“You come across as somebody who doesn’t care what other people think,” a date told me over dinner earlier last year.
“Really?” I quipped. It’s not the first time I’ve heard someone share those sentiments before. And yet, every time they’re said aloud, I can’t help but scoff at people's perception of me.
Despite this commentary—which I simultaneously deemed the most frightening and most kindest I’ve ever received—I have not transcended primitive human needs. Still, the offhand remark always finds a way to seep into my skin; the very skin that, for the most part, clothes my body and makes me feel at home. The same skin, that at other times, reminds me time and again that I can’t fit into last year’s jeans.
Granted, these jeans that now barely fit over my thighs, were purchased when my anxiety made it difficult to hold down any source of sustenance in my body. Still, I lament over my former figure, peering down at my body every now and then to discover a new roll hanging over my waistline. Last year, I cinched those waistlines at the tailor because they’d fall loose on my hips, and now thread by thread, I snipped them like I was at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, revealing the grand opening of a new school wing. Maybe this was not the grand opening I always hoped for, but it was my grand opening and my body.
A body that carried me and held me like a newborn child during a time when my mind could not. A body that reclaimed its appetite, that was once taken away from me. A body that I'm thankful for.
So, with most things that don’t fit, I made space.
I bought new jeans that provided me with more room to breathe. I exchanged bad attitudes to let in healthier ones. I let selfish friends fall by the wayside to make space for more caring ones. I quit a job that wasn’t making me happy, and made more time to pursue my writing.
This is not to say that I don’t care about what people think of me. But it’s to show you that if you learn to accept yourself, then you’re on your way to living your truth. And if you live your truth and let the world in on your vulnerabilities, then you set yourself free. And if you set yourself free then who the fuck cares if you don’t gain the approval of others? As long as the sun comes up in the morning, you’ll always face rejection, so why stop putting yourself out there and taking risks when you’re ultimately going to face the inevitable?
I’ll always care about what people think of me and my work as long as I care about what I think of myself and my work.
But if being whoever the fuck I want makes me happier, then, to hell what they think.