I have been glad of some of the excuses that living on a boat gives me. One is that people have less expectations of me titivating myself and presenting myself fully groomed. Most days I have come to not care how I look.
My daily routine includes my teeth getting brushed, moisturiser and sunscreen being liberally applied (because … wrinkles and sunburn! 😳). And … wait, that’s it!
My mirror measures all of 5cm x 12cm (the approximate size of a car rear view mirror) so I never know what I look like from head to toe at any given moment. There’s such an incredible sense of freedom in that. I hadn’t realised quite how much seeing oneself over and over again throughout the day can to an extent erode self confidence that is already low.
Thankfully I got used to this ‘bitsy’ self observation when travelling for 2.5 months in a little camper van through some of Europe last year. I only had the little visor mirror to see myself in during most of that time. I remember catching a glimpse of myself in a shop window one day and knowing that if I’d had a full length mirror available I would have never left ‘home’ looking like that! But you know what? I didn’t care! Not one little bit – it definitely helped that I knew not a soul in that great big city! I continued to skip down the road with a whole new sense of joy feeling liberated.
During that time I was practicing for boat living. A girl must keep on top of SOME beauty necessities, so I got used to using tweezers without the need for a magnifying mirror. How wonderful to not focus on any of the blemishes and imperfections (and the beginnings of wrinkles 😱) that those mirrors bring to self-esteem destroying, magnified attention. It was good to look at my face in an ‘I really should be wearing my glasses’ haze instead.
However, denial isn’t true acceptance of self. I have to learn to accept myself without judgement and minus that jarring self critical sound track that plays loudly the song of low self esteem.
Pink puts it so well in her song ‘Perfect’ – “you’re so mean when you talk about yourself. You were wrong. Change the voices in your head. Make them like you instead.”
We don’t want to ‘exchange ourselves’ to fit into someone else’s idea of perfection (or what we perceive to be their idea of beauty). Why do we do that?
As far back as I can remember I missed out on enjoying my young, healthy, and in retrospect perfect body, because I was constantly comparing myself to those around me. I mourn the moments I missed to revel in my own skin.
My new goal is to enjoy me. Right here and right now. Not ‘when’ or ‘if’ I reach some unrealistic weight or fitness or level of perfection. But just to be happy and content and enjoy the NOW. I feel this has been easier to achieve without the regular critical gaze of others (or again what I perceive to be critical and judgemental!). But that’s not how it works. 😏
I need to be accepting and actually loving myself despite any criticism, real or perceived. And that my friends is the hardest goal I’ve set myself!
But what I have learned is that surrounding oneself with people who love you and think you’re amazing, not because of your dress size, but because you are YOU – ‘flaws’ and all – takes away that sense of anxiety to be what we are not and reduces our attention of all that is ultimately vanity.
So day by day I’m packing away the vain and useless baggage of my life. Feel free to come along for the ride.