I spent the day by myself on Tuesday. I took a day off and went to yoga, then took myself for a lunch date on my own. I sat there and smiled at myself and my own courage because even a year ago I would have felt uncomfortable and judged going in and sitting for a few hours in a restaurant by myself.
I posted a photo and caption on Instagram because I felt really empowered sitting there alone. I wanted other women to know that it is OK to be by yourself. It is OK to enjoy your own company. It is OK to feel bloody good about yourself.
I posted the words... 'I am f*cking awesome today'... yet inside of me something was squirming and I had such a huge amount of fear about being judged for saying something positive about myself. It was all I could do not to go in and edit that post and change the words - because I felt that people might perceive me as arrogant, or over confident.
When I was at secondary school, me and my girlfriends had this thing... we used to joke about being a 'bighead'... it became so en-grained in us that if anyone said anything even remotely positive about themselves, we would all shout 'bighead' at them.
It was all done in jest at the time, but looking back it was such a harmful and toxic way to talk to each other.
It became much safer to say something mean and nasty about ourselves, because you were far less likely to be considered arrogant or over confident if you did that. Anyone seen to be happy or sure of themselves were considered to be 'full of it', and that was not a good thing! In reflection I realise that was a big trigger towards our own insecurities and it breaks my heart to see it so clearly now - but as a 16 year old girl - all you want to do is fit in and be 'enough'.
As a teenage girl growing up in an all girls school, life isn't always the easiest. There are a lot of insecurities flying around, a lot of confusion, a lot of hormones and a lot of judgement.
The default setting is comparison... whether it is clothes, makeup, weight, boob size, bum size, boyfriends, girlfriends... and thank god we didn't have social media back then.
It worries me a lot about the effect of things like Facebook on our younger generation (sounding super old right now!!) and recently I worked in a retail outlet over the Christmas period and was shocked at the number of mothers coming in looking for anti-anxiety solutions for their teenage daughters.
Still to this day, having left school over 15 years ago (bleurgh - I was nearly sick in my mouth writing that!!) I can hear the words 'bighead' every single time I think anything positive about myself.
And posting that photo on Instagram, with a positive statement about myself took me right back to being 16 years old and being called a bighead for maybe being proud of something I had achieved. Every time my confidence began to grow, I was taken back down a peg (or 6) by either my peers or my own belief system.
Is this just a rite of passage?
I am pretty sure that a lot of people will have had a similar experience at school. I love my girlfriends dearly, they are the most beautiful group of inspiring women and I would not be where I am without them, but I do question how harmful our words were. And how we could have perhaps spent those years building eachother up?
This week, on Wednesday, it was International Women's Day. It was a day when women felt 'safe' to celebrate the fact that they were female. They felt empowered to be confident in their bodies. It was overwhelming how many people stood up and celebrated their wobbly bits, praised their beautiful curvy bodies, rejoiced in not having a thigh gap and said amazing things about themselves and other women in their life.
And this goes for the men too... I know it is not only women who have these insecurities.
It makes me ask the question... why does this have to be just one day of the year? Why can we not adopt this attitude on a daily basis? Why is it easier to be abusive towards our own selves than to build ourselves up? Why do we judge others for their confidence? Is that jealousy or does it trigger insecurities in ourselves?
I don't have the answers to these questions. I have ideas and my own thoughts on the matters, but I feel like it is time to challenge it.
If we could even start our days by stating one loving thing about ourselves, I wonder what would happen?
Maybe it is time to try?
PS.... You, and I, are f*cking awesome!