I have lots of aspirations.
I’m not an ambitious person though – at least not from a career perspective.
I’ve never wanted power, wealth, money, fame or status in life and so far I think those are the right choices.
I was convinced for the longest time that this mean I was without aspiration – but it’s not true, because I just aspire to being OTHER things in life.
I aspire to being happy, to have good friends surrounding me, to be loved, feeling love in return and being content in my own skin.
I work at all of these as I bumble through life. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong. Recently I have more than enough evidence that the contentment bit needs work.
The truth of it is that to be loved you have to feel the same way about yourself, otherwise you’re just someone in need of an above average level of fixing.
Everyone is helped by others – but what I mean is that exuding confidence (not too much though) is fundamentally attractive.
Sometimes you can fake it – but long term I believe it comes from confronting head on the things that make you doubt yourself.
I’m probably more confident now that I’ve ever been in my life – and that’s mostly because I did a few key things.
- I started sharing myself, my failures and my successes with the world, thereby removing any fear of being ‘found out’ at a later date or appearing weak in public
- I gave up drinking, lost weight and forced myself to confront my demons without using food and drink as comforters
- I work on improving my ‘sober, fit and outgoing’ persona every day
The truth is that you are never completely stuck being just one type of person unless you believe you’re incapable of being different.
No-one that has a fear of heights is incapable of jumping out of an aeroplane. The only difference between the person in the plane and the person on the ground looking up at them is a willingness to confront what scares you.
You can learn to be many things in life.
It’s probably true that I’m a ‘fake it till I make it’ kind of guy on occasion – because some aspects of public speaking still trouble me and I can’t completely switch them off.
Today when I write about aspiration I mean that I aspire to total body confidence – because it’s not 100% there yet.
I would love not to worry or care about what people might think of me undressed and I’m aware that this has at times led me to over compensate in the clothes department.
I own a lot of clothes.
If I subscribed to gender stereotypes (I don’t) then this would place me in a different sex bracket. However one of the reasons I don’t believe in definable gender traits is that I don’t know ANY women with as many clothes as me.
I think my need to always look smart and presentable (which is perfectly normal and not a problem – I enjoy doing this) is because I can control the image people see of me with different styles of clothes and largely be whoever I want to be.
I can be casual, daring, dapper or fun loving with the flick of a clothes hanger and I love that about wearing new things – even though I may not always take the items I really want to the checkout….
Now that my changed body shape has enabled this kind of casual experimentation I can choose to be a peacock or a pigeon.
I can decide to blend in or stand out at will – and that’s a powerful gift to give oneself when you’ve been bullied all your life because of how you look.
When I first started losing weight this was a constant problem (link) and as it’s progressed I’ve tagged a few posts where it’s either happened in public or I’ve been affected by the emotional baggage that remains (link).
The confidence of knowing I look ‘normal’ in clothes enables me to make a conscious choice about whether or not I want to invite comment.
The power has been placed back into MY hands when I do this.
When I was bullied in the past because of my size and called names I had no control and people with smaller minds than me continually manipulated my emotional state without warning and in public.
Now I’m confident enough to put on a flamboyant jacket and go out looking like a piece of modern art because I know that when eyes fall upon me they’re falling on my clothes and my personal choices.
I saw a wonderful pair of shoes at the ball last Saturday worn by someone who has just accepted a proposal of marriage.
His happiness, confidence and flamboyance just made me smile.
His shoes still make me grin – not just because they look ace – but because I too would wear them.
There was another guy with the most amazing embroidered green tuxedo – and he looked so awesome I had to go up and tell him he looked incredible!
They are me now. I don’t wear quite such flamboyant things yet – but I can if I want to and almost certainly will in the future.
If people don’t like what I choose to put on my body who cares?
I will wear what makes me happy – but it’s an important distinction to make that this is also my choice.
I am choosing by placing loud clothes on my body and accepting that this may invite comment – both good or bad. In doing so I’m fundamentally saying to the world by doing so to that I’m confident enough not to care what people say to me.
This way of thinking is a world apart from the mindset of bullied me.
His mood was always dictated by idiots that confirmed his worst fears continuously about how everyone looked at him (link) and he largely lived in constant fear.
Today I do NOT and I love that about myself.
I genuinely do.
I love that I can walk into a room in a suit and draw admiration because I look good.
That’s not me being egotistical or conceited (at least I hope not) because often it doesn’t matter what people think.
The decision I make about how good I look comes well before they ever provide feedback.
It arrives before I leave the house, as I stand looking at myself in the mirror. Right there in that moment I decide that I FEEL good.
When you feel good then you look good. You carry yourself differently and you maintain eye contact.
What is it that I aspire to if everything is so lovely?
I want to feel the same about myself without clothes – because in that scenario I have no control over how people see me and the only armour I can wear exists in my own mind.
There’s so much ‘wrong’ with my body after huge weight loss that I could spend a lifetime of pain and surgery ‘fixing’ it.
If I make one ‘fixed bit’ however I’m pretty sure that the rest will just look bad in comparison.
Where do you stop? It just goes on and on and won’t fix low self esteem.
I also fundamentally disagree with this as a way to live my life.
I do not want to cut bits off myself because they are inconvenient and throw them in the bin.
It’s worth pointing out that one day I may change that perception and if I do then it’s my right to do so – however I hope that I don’t – because I suspect if I do start down that road it will be because I’ve become more concerned with what other people think of me than I am of my own self image.
At the moment I see that as failure but who knows how I’ll view it in the future.
It’s difficult though – when I know that the first question almost everyone wants to ask me (when I speak publicly about my journey) is about skin and what’s left behind after dramatic weight loss.
I know (because of this) that if I go swimming or take my clothes of for more (ahem) intimate reasons that I’m probably going to be confronted with the same reductive value judgements and that will require a strong man to deal with the resulting emotions.
Maybe even a stronger one than I am currently.
I still need to pluck up the courage to go swimming and that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon…
So – this is my project.
It’s the thing that I want to work on the most.
I will get better at this internet and I will grow my confidence – just like everything else I’ve learned to get better at.
This is just a state of mind and I’m going to learn to have it.