“I spent my 20s really riddled and depressed and on drugs and miserable. I was having an acid flashback to all of the hours spent in front of the mirror staring at my naked body and face and trying to imagine how I was seen by others and feeling less than. Some of us are really fucking insecure and will do anything to belong and some of us aren’t. And I was born that girl who was like why does that girl look like she has it figured it out and why does that girl have it figured out? I want to have it figured out. I was chasing this idea that if I wrote for a magazine, I would be Caroline Bassette Kennedy.” - Molly Stone (Creator of Stone Fox Bride)
While most people seem to view me as a confident person, especially if they knew me when I was younger or aren't a close friend, I am here to tell that this is not totally true.
I have struggled greatly with self esteem, body image and my place in the world. While insecurity is one of the worst feelings, the only way to get over it is to go through it. I'm a master at resisting what is, so when these feelings of extreme discomfort start to rise, I naturally go fight mode. Unfortunately, the resistance is the very thing that will perpetuate the feeling. Cue a lot of enlarged insecurity.
As a result of confidence being a highly admired trait in our society, the opposite felt shameful.
Like there was something wrong with me.
Like I was less than.
A big part of this has to do with the fact that as a younger person, when it came to certain areas, I had a lot of "self esteem." While some of this self assurance came through being bold, creative and a fierce protecter of the truth, it was also based off of a lot of outer stuff. I was constantly complimented on certain traits and the way I lived my life, which only fueled my (false) sense of self. Although I knew that developing an identity based off of superficial or fleeting qualities such as appearance, place in the world or sense of style, was not the deepest version of confidence, it's what most people are operating off of in our world. So following what I saw around me, I built what I thought was me.
I was intelligent and well-educated.
I was known for my sense of style.
I drove a nice car.
I traveled a lot.
I had "cool" friends.
I dated attractive men.
And I was thin.
Essentially, I lived an enviable life.
Now I wasn't unaware that most of what I just listed doesn't bring true happiness. In fact, the more I had and the thinner I was, I often found a greater level of dissatisfaction. And so slowly, beginning in my early to mid 20s, I started to let it all go. I gave up my eating disorder. I gained a good amount of weight. I began dressing like a messy hippie in baggie clothes. I traded my gas-gussling car in for a hybrid. I let go of my fun friend group. I stopped shopping and partying.
In some ways, I felt proud that I could live without all of the things that society deemed important and in other ways, I felt like I had let myself go. My closet was no longer a dream. Nothing fit. My sex drive and energy level were non existent thanks to meds. I had created a healing practice, both privately and at an East LA center, only to then abandon them both. And I was really struggling to balance my brain chemistry. So naturally, my self esteem dipped. As I got off of my anti-depressant, due to the fact that a man told me I was a little plump, it only went lower. Yes, I had my sex drive back and my weight began to drop, but I felt insane. It was the worst drug withdrawal of my life. One that some say takes a full year to two years to recover from. It was actual hell.
Today, as I slowly pull myself back into a state of normalcy, I am choosing to work with the insecurity. The med experience over the last year, as well as other traumatic, life-altering experiencing, helped to strip away identities that never really belonged to me. And as I rebuild both my life and my brain, I have the opportunity to create a real foundation. One that is based on things that matter. I'm also able to reclaim lost parts of myself. The me that loves clothing as an art form, the me that loves connecting with people and being alone with a great book or computer to write with. The part of me that enjoys feeling beautiful and appreciates nice things, while simultaneously knowing that the outside, beauty-obsessed, material realm isn't real.
Over the past few months, I've been re-locating my place in the world, while always standing up for what I believe in. It seems as if I have always existed somewhere between the superficial, skinny, fashion and boy obsessed, party girl and the style and sex-less, meditative, hermetic healer. Today I am grateful for the long, stretched out journey of lost in translation in order to experience authentic self discovery.
So here's to finding out who we really are. May we find ease and support through the process.
Photo by @lalovenenoso