You have to be a ME before you’re a WE. A phrase I grew up hearing time and time again by my mother. “Kelly, you have to be a Me before you’re a We.” How is a teenager supposed to take that? Who are you? How could anyone possibly know! You have years of awkward adolescence, growth spurts, mistakes, break ups and obstacles ahead of you that you don’t know exist yet. Teens, well I guess even adults, think whatever is happening to them at that moment is the end all be all. We get consumed in the moment while fantasizing the future. I look back on that simple phrase and realize I always thought my mom was referring to relationships and past boyfriends I had broken up with, “It may not be the right time,” “If it is meant to be it’ll happen.” Now as a 27 year old, I realize that I interpreted that phrase completely wrong. I was focused on the second half of it, when the first part was what mattered, “You have to be a me…
After years of fighting a battle of body image issues day in and day out, I had enough. I decided I needed to go to therapy, become a yogi, drink kombucha, take a hike, eat avocado toast, SOMETHING that wasn’t what I had been trying for the last however many years. I read articles, listened to podcasts, asked friends and even tried painting! (I really loved The Notebook and thought if Ally could paint, I should paint, “If you’re a bird I’m a bird”). I was desperate to change, because in reality, I had no fucking clue who I was and that killed me. Things I did know; I hated my body, I couldn’t go 15 minutes without thinking how my thighs have never NOT rubbed together, my stomach has never been tight and flat, I constantly apologized for acting “myself” around anyone, I was ultra-aware of any characteristic that wasn’t perfect, I was paranoid I was never nice enough to others, welcoming enough to strangers and confident enough to be out socially. I was exhausted of myself and drained. So I decided to start tackling this question I so badly wanted to answer; who am I?
I’m not going to delve into what I went through in counseling because I truly believe that is a journey everyone should take for themselves and if you go into it for any other reason besides being open and honest about everything you need help with, you won’t get what you are looking for. Along with the therapy, I started really opening my eyes and ears to the world of self-love and acceptance. I’ll be honest, in the beginning I hated every blogger, wellness website, Instagram account that preached about it. I was jealous! Crazy, stupid, jealous that all of these people seemed to crack some code I couldn’t and were living some confident peace, love and happiness lifestyle that I would kill for.
It was at that time that I realized once again, I was interpreting something completely ass backwards. Finding myself wasn’t going to happen reading articles and drinking green juices, but by taking the time to fall in love with myself. Hang in here with me cause it’s about to get weird, but I promise it worked! In my late teens and early twenties I put HOURS, weeks, days, months and years into relationships that never went anywhere. I traveled to crazy states for boys, I put off studying for exams and made plenty of stupid decisions. I did that all for “loving” a boy(s) who I would never marry or think twice about. Yet how did I treat myself, the one person/body I saw and spent every day with? I was verbally abusive to her, thought she was annoying and didn’t deserve her friends or any real happiness the way she was. WHAT!? Please tell me you see how absurd that is. So when I decided I was going to fall in love with myself, I made the choice to talk to myself the way I used to text or speak to old boyfriends, treat myself to a nice dinner or Whole Foods trip once a week, walk past my reflection and think “DAYUM”. Why couldn’t I think I’m hot?! Why couldn’t I flirt with myself?! I started loving the imperfections, because it seemed like everyone else already did. My friends were my friends because they knew how I was, extroverted until I was shy, loud and enthusiastic but quiet when I was moody, loving but overly protective, short and cute with a spunky personality. I was the only one who hated those things before.
So back to the real task at hand, who am I? Well I have been me all along. I just never accepted that version before, I was waiting for the newer, better, more improved model to come out. Well, an I Phone is always an I Phone. Next year, there will be a new model. The funny thing about life is, everything is always changing, and nothing stays the same. I would never be perfect or that version of myself I would just one day up and accept. So the answer…? Accepting the flaws and learning to see them as what makes you stand out. Why do we try so hard to fit in when we may be born to stand out? Now is the time I have chosen to love myself, embrace the imperfections and be proud of who I am. I’ve been in a relationship for almost 4 years and was terrified taking this road to figure out who I was would push me from him, but it didn’t. That was the thing, everyone else had seen who I was all along, and I was the only one who couldn’t.