Back to the Start

Sometimes I stick my foot in my mouth. It makes my heart push against my ribs and my skin clammy. Then I wish I could hit a button and restart.

Maybe restart that moment, or conversation. Entire interactions could be reset to solve how much anxiety I get.

While we can’t necessarily hit a big red button and reverse everything that happened. But maybe what we can do is take a step back and reflect.

Back to the Start
If only it were that easy.

A few years ago I took a step out of my friend circle. Its a long story full of sighs, but the tl;dr version is that I needed some time to reflect. Moving 3,000 miles away helped in taking that step, but it provided me with some breathing room to deal with my inner turmoil and grow.

In taking that step out of my friend circle, it also meant I was starting fresh. I could figure out who I was, and try on different hats.

I did not stop talking to all of my friends in Seattle. There were a few people that I kept in contact with through correspondence and text message. But there were many friends that remained at arms length with.

Recently, one of those friends got married. It had been some time since I had talked to this person, but I felt the need to say something. So I messaged them one day on Facebook to congratulate them on their marriage. They responded and we got talking.

It was weird at first, as it had been nearly 2 years since the last time we spoke. They’re part of that long story of sighs. At the end of that first conversation, we decided to talk on the phone on Tuesday night. And we did.

Tuesday came, and we spent a considerable amount of time talking about her wedding and marriage, and our history as friends.

We both felt this was a good restart. That after time for each of us to reflect, we were in a much better place to rekindle our friendship.

While we don’t necessarily get a life reset button, time can be the best way to restart. People need time to grow in their own lives, and reflect. Sometimes all you need is some breathing room.

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Messages to Ourselves

“I used to think there was just fat and skinny. But apparently there’s lots of things that can be wrong on your body.” – Cady, Mean Girls

At some point in elementary school I determined that I wasn’t beautiful.

And that mindset was reiterated to me through high school.

“Let me see yours,” Miranda said. She gestured to the large envelope I was putting in my backpack that contained my prom photos.

messages-to-ourselves
Oh gosh, me in a dress, with a guy I’m still good friends with.

I stared at her for a moment before I reached in and took out the small, black cardboard framed photo from a few weeks ago. She snatched it up, and examined the two figures grinning up at her.

“Why’re you so short?” Miranda looked up at me. She ignored the dress I wore, or the fact that my date was two feet taller than me. Miranda and everyone else had to point out it was my fault I was vertically challenged.

I shrugged. My height was something my friends had picked on. If it wasn’t that, it was my choice in clothes, or boyish haircuts.

Reading became my escape. It was much easier to face He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or the murderous trail of Count Olaf, than the friends that picked on my appearance.

I got used to telling myself in the mirror, “You’re not good enough for anyone.”

When I found myself in a relationship in college, my inner monologue didn’t change.

“Why would you date a hobbit like me?” I asked my then girlfriend.

“Why would you say that about yourself?” She looked at me as we sat on her bed doing homework.

“Cause its true. You’re beautiful, and confident. And I’m going to fuck this up,” I said. She set aside her textbook and scooted across the blue comforter to me.

“I happen to like hobbits. And you’re beautiful, too,” she said.

We showered each other with compliments, but I still had a hard time believing the kind words she said to me.

A childhood of negative thoughts had skewed my reflection.

Children are aware of body issues and methods to control body size and appearance by the time they are preschoolers, and many young children start exhibiting socially motivated distortions in their body perceptions.­[1]

At ten years old, I compared myself to the other girls in my class. It started when they took more time in the bathroom to fix their hair and apply another layer of LipSmackers. They cared about impressing the cute boys in class, and I cared about playing kickball at recess.

No one told me I wasn’t beautiful. I told myself.

My own words caused more damage than the casual or joking comments from friends. These micro aggressions taught me to see what was wrong with my body.

I stopped loving who I was.

[1] See “Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image.” Common Sense Media.