I woke up this morning at 5am and had every intention of getting up and having a ridiculously productive day. It’s our first snow day of Winter in Boston, so I figured with not having to get the kids to school I could really take advantage of this quiet morning time as they sleep and get stuff done. However, it didn’t go at all as I had anticipated.
My first mistake was that I grabbed my phone while still cozy in my warm bed. I saw text messages waiting for me from the night before and some Instagram notifications. I opened Instagram and instead of going to my notifications, I immediately got sucked into looking at my newsfeed and all of the perfect and gorgeous people on it. And it didn’t stop there…Suddenly, I realized I was already 90 minutes in of looking at and COMPARING myself to all of these people that I do not know AT ALL and what I can just assume is their highlight reel. If I could explain the inner dialogue that was going on inside my head, you may feel completely relieved that you’re not alone because you’ve done the same thing or you may think I’m completely crazy….or maybe a little bit of both.
Just to give you a little glimpse of what that inner dialogue was and how unreasonable it was, I will reluctantly tell you that I was comparing this forty-two year old body to a twenty-something year olds and all the filters that were used to get that perfect shot. For over an hour this morning, I so badly wanted to be in my 20’s again….but then I remembered my twenties and how I was an insecure mess and that got me thinking about how painful those years were. Yes, there definitely were some fun times but I never completely enjoyed everything to it’s fullest because I spent the majority of my days fearing rejection, feeling like I was never enough, worrying about what everyone thought of me and trying really hard to conceal all of those insecurities and emotions. It was exhausting. When I think about it, I can really get mad at myself for wasting those years of my life.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about what I would do now if I could go back to those younger years with what I know now and do it all over again. I’m sure I’m not the only one! I sometimes wish I could go back with all of the lessons I’ve learned to-date and apply them to all of my relationships and interactions with people, in school and work and most importantly, my relationship with myself. But let’s be honest, there is no possible way that I could have the knowledge I have today without living through those years and making the mistakes I’ve made, losing friendships, the ups and downs in business, marriage and motherhood. Who I am today is all a result of every single person that has been a part of my life, every “failure” and every heartbreak. But even though I know all of this, I still like to torture myself from time to time imagining how perfect I’d be if life had been…well, perfect.
And this morning’s Instagram comparison session had me going all the waaaaayyy back and wondering who I would be if my birth father was in my life and if I had his approval during my time on this planet so far, especially those earlier years. I’ve thought about how if I had experienced that key relationship in a positive way, then my fear of rejection might not be so deep and the time I spent on building walls to protect myself from ever experiencing that feeling again could have been spent on something so much more beneficial and positive, like loving myself and loving others.
So after 90 minutes of painful groans, whining and wishing I looked like all of these gorgeous women on Instagram that I was so convinced have perfect lives, zero emotional scars, acne or cellulite, and fairly certain none of them eat cake for breakfast, I made myself get out of bed and stop the madness. It was time to have my coffee and some quiet time with God and try to recover from where my mind had gone upon first waking up.
Every morning for me starts with coffee and typically a half-hour conversation (one-sided) with God on my couch. It may sound crazy to many but I’m cool with that. I say “conversation” but I can also refer to it as prayer. I guess my traditional Catholic upbringing makes me feel guilty calling it that because I’m not actually reciting any of the formal prayers I was taught in Catholic school. But to clarify, this half hour is me thanking God for so much in my life, asking for his grace, strength and trying to make sure that I am on the right path. This quiet time in the morning has been amazing for me to get on with the day in a busy life of being a mom and building a business. It helps me stay focused on goals and what matters most during my time on this earth.
So this morning I had to make an effort to spend EXTRA time to express gratitude for all of the things that God has blessed me with since I wasted valuable time this morning knocking myself down. I needed to remind myself of all the things that make me awesome.
What came to me was this. “Tanya, would you want your daughter to hear what you were saying to yourself this morning?” My answer was simple. NO. Then I thought, “How do you want her to see you through all of those things that you so often look upon as failures or flaws?” And I came up with this important exercise that made me write down the following:
-I’d want her to think about how every scar on my body has a story to tell. My legs that have so many scars and those lovely dimples called cellulite have carried this body through and completed 2 difficult Boston Marathons. And that second Marathon that I completed that didn’t go quite as well as I hoped, I STILL finished. I could have given up during that run but I didn’t because I’m stubborn as all hell and my mental toughness often outweighs my physical strength and anyone that’s run a marathon know that is REALLY what it’s all about.
-That these jiggly arms that I’m hating right now because they are not what they once were have carried my beautiful babies and are there to hug them when they need to feel comforted and let them know how much they are loved. These arms and this body have also been in a Boxing ring and have also taught hundreds of women that they are strong and about the sport of Boxing.
-This stomach that I am hating this morning once housed my beautiful babies that have brought so much joy in my life and have taught me so much about myself and what love really is all about.
-That every business risk I ever took is because I don’t want to ever be left wondering “what if” again, if I can help it. Every “failure” has taught me something to carry onto the next chapter in my story, because we all have one to tell. It’s helped me to learn how to get back up after being knocked down and that if that dream is still inside you nagging away at you, it’s doing that for a reason, so be BOLD and take one more shot at it.
-That every mistake, emotional scar or bruise has helped me to be more empathetic and be able to put myself in another person’s shoes. It’s given me perspective. It’s made me a kinder person to others and to myself (most of the time.) It’s taught me to forgive myself and others and to look for the good in people beyond their scars and imperfections. It’s been a lesson to own my mistakes, where I’ve been, what I’ve been through and commit to being the real me….Flaws and All.
THIS is how I want my daughter to view my “flaws and failures”. This is how I need to view myself. This is how we need to view each other as women.
So yes, I’m human and I fell into a BIG trap of self-comparison on social media for far too long this morning but I made sure to turn it around. That is the part I’m going to focus on. I’m not perfect but can I tell you a secret?? NO ONE IS! We all have flaws. We are all awesome. It’s time for us to own our FLAWSOME, embracing all of your flaws and still knowing you are AWESOME. #nofilterneeded
Now take some time and make a list of all of the things that make YOU FLAWSOME. Read it. Own it. Wake up. Repeat.