I was twenty and working out six days a week. I had a beautiful girlfriend. I felt good about myself a lot of the time. I was traveling with Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, doing public speeches, and spending money I didn’t have on new, nice clothes for those events. And to impress my girlfriend, of course. Despite all of that, though, every morning when I would get out of the shower and look in the mirror, I would see the reflection of an overweight fifteen year old with an awkward gait and an aura of terror that nothing I could do would ever make me look “good enough.”
Now, to be clear, I do not work out like that anymore. A wedding—to the girlfriend from above (love you Victoria!)—a new baby, and an international pandemic can keep a person from working out. And while I’m on the topic, yes I am writing this while in semi-quarantine. I’m considered an “essential” employee at my day job, so I’m going out for that most days, but spending my evenings with my wife and baby at home. Oh, and of course we’re playing Animal Crossing New Horizons, too.
Sorry, back on topic, though I didn’t get ENTIRELY off my path there. Most of the US, and people from other countries that read this blog, too, are in quarantine right now. We’re stuck with ourselves, and maybe our families or roommates, for a long while. Those who struggle with depression or, like myself, battle anxiety might be limping through this thing. So, I’m here to tell you that you’re beautiful and/or handsome.
No, I mean it. You’re beautiful. You’re handsome. You are a freakin’ delight. And not just because you have lovely eyes and a rockin’ bod, but because you’re great at gardening, or weight lifting, or reading, or playing video games, or being there for your peers, or being a great parent, or being an example for others, or standing up to bullies, or painting, or doing puzzles, or praying, or writing, or being an amazing version of you. Or, I suppose, writing intensely run-on sentences.
This year on this blog, I want to do things differently. I want to help make a difference, to be the change I want to see in the world, as the well-worn saying goes. And today, I want to help the people stuck at home, struggling to face themselves in the mirror because, despite anything anyone might say or anything you might do, you can’t see what you want to see or what others see. There’s no silver bullet for this, of course, because self-hate—which is what body dysmorphia is in almost all its form—self-hate is like an addiction. It’s hard to break the habits of harm and harsh words that we bully ourselves with. But, there are some things that can help, one thing in particular that I’ve tried with some success: Sticky notes.
Before COVID-19 quarantine started I impulse purchased a pack of sticky notes and some pens. Before Victoria and I tied the knot, a pre-marriage counselor told me I needed to work on staying more positive about my day because I would often bog down my morning with phrases like, “It’s gonna be a rough one, I can feel it,” before heading to work. Almost two years since he told me that, I was going to implement it across my issues.
I put sticky notes up around the house. At the door I wrote, “It’s gonna be another great day!” That was the beginning. Victoria and I started leaving them for each other, too; we’re two full grown parents passing notes at recess, essentially. Anyway, after doing this for a bit, on the bathroom mirror I stuck a note that told myself I looked great today. I was never going to hear it from anybody else if I didn’t hear it from myself, first. I still struggle to just take a dang compliment, but I look at that sticky note every day and repeat it back to myself, even when I am really not feeling it. Now, Victoria has put up some self-love guidelines for our Enneagram types, too, and I read those every day. (I’m a 3w2 and she’s a 4w5, if you’re wondering.)
So, I’m issuing a challenge to all my readers: Write yourself three sticky notes this week and put them places you’ll see them every day—on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge or front door, maybe on your coffee maker. Tell yourself that you look great, or that it’s going to be okay, or to drink more water. Whatever you think will best help to improve your day to day. If you have a partner, kids, or roommates, ask them to do it with you. Right now, and always, we’ve got to help each other get through each day.
Here are some resources for body positivity and general confidence/mental health improvement.
This is a Canadian website. I liked what they had to say: Here To Help
This site has a list of ways to boost confidence and self-image. Some of them seem like common sense, but we all need to be encouraged to be kind to ourselves: VeryWellMind
I hope everyone is staying healthy during this COVID-19 situation. Please practice social distancing, wash your hands long and often. Put those at higher risk first; my wife and I are being extra careful because our baby is in the high risk category since she’s under a year old. Keep your loved ones in prayer and in mind.
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