For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with insecurities about myself, especially when it comes to all things physical. Having grown up just shy of obese, I’ve always felt self-conscious about my body: how I look in certain clothes, whether the trousers I’m wearing are showing off those love handles that I can’t seem to get rid off, whether my butt looks big in this dress or that dress and so on and so forth, a seemingly never-ending cycle of self-doubt and fat-shaming.
When I moved to London, I started to realise that I didn’t do myself any favours by constantly putting myself down. Its true what they say, you truly are your own worst critic. Most of the time the flaws you see in yourself are noticeable only to your own eyes, eyes that magnify every imagined fault and imperfection. I think I’ve been living in this city for almost 6 months when the scales fell and I saw that a lot of the time, being and feeling beautiful is rooted in self-confidence and being comfortable in your own skin.
Let’s face it, I’m not a Victoria’s Secret model by any stretch of the imagination, and I shouldn’t attempt to judge myself according to that standard of beauty because I have not been blessed in that department. There are other ways in which I have been blessed however. In my country, we call it “consuelo di bobo” (literally translated it means “at least I’m not stupid” ) and it may sound like sour-graping, but to me its just about enumerating and capitalising on your God-given strengths.
For example, I am confident enough to say that my intelligence is above-average. I am also good with words; either in the written format or in the form of a witty repartee, words and conversation have always come easy to me. I love a good banter and I enjoy making people laugh. According to a program at work that I am currently enrolled in, I apparently also have strong social intelligence, whatever that means. My Thursday boss says that its the ability to lie and manipulate people into doing what you want them to do. Well, hey, that sounds like a good weapon to have in my arsenal. Lol
You might be wondering where this blog entry is coming from. I know I always come across as someone who’s really confident and most of the time I am. Its just that when I’m placed in situations where I feel like being conventionally beautiful is everything, where I start to compare myself to other women, where the setting is not a platform where I can showcase my strengths, then I really struggle with my self-esteem.
For the trauma and orthopaedic christmas party, I went against all my natural instincts and decided on a look that was more mature and different from how I would normally look. The dress was tight-fitting and my heels were so high I think I struggled walking the short distance from my flat to Leicester Square. I got to the party and I felt like I had slipped into someone else’s skin and I might as well have impostor stamped all over my forehead. I didn’t feel like me, and my insecurities came out in spades.
Its funny how much the clothes we wear make a difference in how we feel. I guess in a way its because the clothes really do make the man (or woman), and what you choose to wear is a reflection of who you are. For that night, I attempted to be sexy and glamorous when I’m probably more classy and feminine. I’m not any man’s pin-up fantasy, but I am the kind of woman you can bring to dinner parties and introduce to your friends as an equal and accomplished partner. And that is where I’m most comfortable, that is my natural resting state and I swear to God, I am never going to forget that again.
I’m proud of myself and the woman I’ve become, and I’ve made peace with my weaknesses – for the most part. Its just that this whole physical attractiveness thing is one of my most deep-seated insecurities and I sometimes struggle to remind myself that I am beautiful in my own right, and that I am at my best when I’m just being myself. What I have may not be beauty in the conventional sense, but that doesn’t make it less, just different – in the same way that christmas lights are as beautiful as the blooms of spring. And dammit, maybe beauty is overrated. If you ask me, I would probably rather be interesting than beautiful.
Last week I did 5 long day shifts (0800-2030) because we were short-staffed at work. Friday rolled around and I just could not be bothered to wear my usual make-up. These days you can usually gauge how stressed I am by the shade of my red lipstick: the more stressed I get, the lighter the shade of my lipstick. My friend Romelyn asked me that Friday if I was going for the bare-faced look because I didn’t have anything on my face apart from powder and blush.
That day we did the first robotic orthopaedic case in the NHS, a couple of hip replacements and a couple of knee replacements. I love orthopaedics, and I particularly love joint replacements. So I was so confident in what I was doing that I was able to do my job while still engaging in light banter and, perhaps, harmless casual flirtation with my colleagues in between cases. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have make-up on or that I was wearing the world’s most unattractive uniform (raspberry scrub suits, ugh!), I felt confident and in my element.
The team had a lot of fun that day; work was made lighter by the easy camaraderie among the members of the team. That Friday, I apparently caught the eye of one of the visiting doctors in the team, who then asked for my number and asked me out on a date that weekend. In the course of scrubbing for a total knee replacement, even when I was bare-faced and gowned up with a mask on, I was able to make an impression just by being myself. That speaks volumes, doesn’t it? As cliche as it is, you really just have to do you and the rest of it will come easy.
So dear readers and fellow blabbaholics, let this be a reminder to me the next time I feel the need to be someone other than my fabulous self: Be you, the real you; own it and be proud of it.
Let’s put it this way, there are people who are more beautiful than you; there are people who are smarter than you, and there are people who are wittier than you, but there’s no one else with the combination of beauty, intelligence and wit that makes up you as a unique individual, and that is what makes you special.