In my efforts to connect with more people during my time spent in Nashville, I reached out to an acquaintance from college who has lived here for several years and asked her for some recommendations that might be accommodating for a single 30-something new to the city. The girl was gracious enough to not only share her phone number, but also invited me to dinner with her and a few of her girlfriends on Saturday night, which I eagerly accepted. I’ve only really gotten to keep up with her through Instagram over the years since ETSU, but beyond being one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met in real life, she has incredible style and an active (and enviable) social calendar. This is the adult equivalent of being asked to sit at the “cool” table during lunch, and I suddenly felt a strange anxiety about the whole ordeal that I’ve not encountered since middle school. For the first time in decades, I agonized over what I was going to wear and how I was going to do my makeup so I could fit in as best as possible. Finally, Saturday rolled around and I met them at a hot new sushi restaurant in Germantown. I only THOUGHT my nerves were bad leading up to this event.
As soon as they stepped out of their black SUV Lyft, my stomach sank. Their tiny, toned bodies were wrapped in skin-tight dresses, designer handbags dangling from their shoulders and there wasn’t so much as a smidge of their makeup that wasn’t perfectly blended and contoured. I stood there, in my goofy ruffly “cute” dress and heels from Ross, looking like I was waiting to be picked up by the church van for Sunday School. Thanks to the sudden monsoon I had to brave on my way to the restaurant, my hair extensions were somehow frizzy and stringy at the same time, and every bit of my makeup had shifted slightly to the left. I looked and felt like a total nightmare.
These girls turned out to be really sweet and fun. They made me feel welcome and included and were not snotty in the least, which they had every reason and right to do the total opposite. We had a great dinner then went to my favorite rooftop bar, but despite their best efforts, I was just too self-conscious to be able to enjoy myself, so I called it an early night and headed home to crash. Upon waking the next morning, I found myself in the throes of insecurity like I’ve never known before. The first thing I did was hit the gym, then the store to meal prep tons of lean protein and veggies, all the while maintaining a constant stream of hateful conversation with myself about how I’ve let myself go to hell.
“Don’t even look at the wine section, you fat turd. Can’t you feel your gut bouncing with every step? You don’t deserve to even look in the direction of desserts after you’ve let yourself get in this shape. The only thing you deserve is an eternity on the treadmill and filling dinners of grilled chicken with a side of air.”
I considered setting my closet on fire and just cooking my food in that, since nothing I own is fit to be worn anymore, but opted for a gas grill in the end. All week I’ve managed to make it to the gym at least once, sometimes twice for cardio sessions on the Peloton bike and HIIT strength conditioning. I’ve stuck to my diet, only straying for a margarita in honor of National Tequila Day. I am sore, hungry, tired but ultimately I feel better about myself.
The point of this article is to address insecurity. I’ve previously mentioned my lifelong struggle with body image, but despite those issues, I’ve been able to develop myself into a confident and secure woman. In my comfort bubble back home, I never felt pressure or unease about mingling with a certain group of people regardless of their social status or beauty, because I know who I am and what I bring to the table. I’m not saying there aren’t stunningly beautiful women in the Tri-Cities, this is just a whole other level. When the girls around you all look and dress like Kardashians, it’s hard not to feel inadequate.
I’ve realized that the pressure I’m feeling is actually fear. These girls have the life I’ve always wanted. They’ve achieved the look I’ve always wanted and now I’m being slapped with the reality that it’s not just the intangible stars on TV and Instagram who live like this, there are real human beings with a ton of discipline who have managed to build this for themselves. My insecurity comes from the awareness that due to my own laziness and lack of self-control, I have still not achieved something that I’ve always wanted. Yet again, I’m being faced with a fear to conquer.
Listen, looks and material things are not what matter in the end. I could lose all the weight in the world, win the lottery and marry People magazines Sexiest Man Alive. None of that would matter if I didn’t address the root of my issues, which I am doing now. I don’t need to fix my outward appearances that I dislike, I need to fix the inward, and that is my tendency to half-ass things and not finish what I started. That is the real root of the problem and it is also the root of the things that are manifesting outwardly.
I am so glad to be given this challenge. I love being in a position where my discomfort is motivating me to do better. I need to be healthier and get back on track with my diet and exercise and this is pushing me in that direction. I always feel happier and more confident when I’m active and eating fresh nutritious food, as opposed to when I’m splurging on alcohol and pizza. I am grateful to this new group of girls who have been kind enough to offer me a seat at the popular table and without saying a word, encouraged me to shape up. This is the type of motivation that I need to build self-confidence and eliminate my insecurity. Do I think every woman reading this needs to look like a Playboy model to achieve their highest self? NO!! I want every woman to be comfortable and secure, no matter who she is with or what she is wearing. One of my biggest role models right now is Lizzo. Her confidence inspires me every day and she is unapologetically a bigger girl. But she is comfortable in her skin and loves herself and THAT is what makes me look up to her. I think women all have a responsibility to lift each other up and share our strengths where they are needed because there’s enough bad stuff in the world without having to face negativity or isolation from our peers.
Cheers to becoming our best selves, and I hope you all have an amazing week!