If you do not enjoy being you, then you have some work to do. As I approach my fourth decade, I feel only one thing is being asked of me: that I let my true self take root and live authentically—with no qualifications or apologies. Not conceit—just love and acceptance of self and confidence.
My first decade was marked by an abundance of self-assurance. As a child I was confident (perhaps even conceited), bold, brave, and out-going. I had no antagonistic or ambivalent feelings towards my body. I had an unlimited well of faith in my abilities.
However, puberty proved to be something of a Trojan horse for me. At first (mostly thanks to Judy Blume books), I saw no reason to be any different. I would (as my pediatrician commanded) shy away from nothing just because I had my period. Menstruation would never be an excuse I used for stepping back from something I wanted to do—neither would my gender. I was fiercely feminist—proud to be a girl and looking forward to being a woman.
But then my body began to visibly change—thickening and rounding in very non-ballerina-esque ways. I ceased to see the physique I’d come to esteem and associate with beauty when I looked in the mirror. And that’s when the Trojan horse of puberty burst open—insecurities pouring out of it like an armed and hostile regiment then attacking my identity along with all the confidence I’d cultivated.
My second decade contained a cold war between me and my body. I tried to will it and then deprive it back to the lean and lanky way it had once been. I hid it under bulky clothes. I regretted the veiny appearance of my arms. I appreciated my body’s speed, agility, and strength, but I wished it looked different.
College proved to be a summit of diplomacy. I negotiated a cease fire and then true peace in the company of diverse bodies. I began to focus less on what my body looked like and more on what it could do. I stopped having any feelings of guilt connected to food. And as others made their appreciation of my form known, I began to appreciate it too.
Every decade since has been a journey forward to get back to the unabashed confidence I had as a child. There is still more internal territory to reclaim—still further to go and grow in loving and being who I truly am—both the exterior and what’s inside. But each day, as I age, I try to take a few steps past my comfort zone and to be even more comfortable in my own skin. Each day I seek to love myself more—and this body I’m in.