I love myself: An open letter to millennials in search of confidence

Dear Millennials,

imageWe grew up in a generation where we were told we were not enough. Not smart enough (maybe you have ADHD- get some meds), not happy enough (Prozac), not creative enough (take every lesson on the planet but also have time for homework), but at the same time make sure you don’t pursue all that creativity and choose a job that is not too unrealistic. Most of us were brought up in a lose lose situation. Here are some examples from a Kacey Musgraves song I just love.

“If you save yourself for marriage, you’re a bore.
If you don’t save yourself for marriage, you’re a whore-able person.
If you won’t have a drink, then you’re a prude.
But they’ll call you a drunk as soon as you down the first one.”

It’s hauntingly relatable. This is what we were taught! These are smaller examples but at it’s core the message is: we are too much and not enough all at once. Self confidence is almost impossible with these standards. And the irony? The ones who fake it till they make it are the ones with the most success in this world. The ones who feign confidence until they’re putting down everyone in sight because it’s the only way to keep the pseudo confidence alive. There is something seriously damaging about this upbringing. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned in life it is that you are responsible for your reactions to everything. You are not responsible for what happens to you, but you are always responsible for your response. And this goes for our cultural responses as well.

I was a huge fan of Meghan Trainor. I seriously listened to her last album on repeat so many times on my long runs I probably have every word memorized. It’s almost embarrassing.. but also not, because it was a GREAT album. Very clever, musically brilliant (the 1960’s feel was the bomb), and right with the times as far as the message about loving yourself exactly as you are. So, I went to listen to her new album today and I have to say I was sorely disappointed.

“I love me, because I’m sexy and it ain’t my fault.”

Yes, we all heard the bass that she was all about. She is very confident and it was inspiring. I’ve learned so much over the past couple of years about learning to appreciate and love yourself. I’ve learned that you can’t give to others when your well is running dry. You have to take care of the source and you truly have to protect your self image. Create boundaries. Learns to say no, learn to say yes, and all of that. But this? It wasn’t just this song either. It was the whole album. One was about her friends and how they’re the best friends in the whole world, which is great until you hear about how her mom is better than everyone else’s mom and her life is better than anyone else’s life and how you should be jealous because of how famous and awesome she is. And then, “I love me. I love me, hey. I love me.”

Is this what our upbringing has turned us into? I know older people are constantly referring to our generation as narcissists with all the selfies and posting on social media about every second of the day. AND I know how belittling that is and how they don’t understand our generation or technology as a whole. But the root of their complaint comes from a true place. We act like narcissists to mask how small we feel. How unimportant we feel.

Brene brown did a study on narcissism in our society and this is what she found:

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”

So this isolating image of overconfidence with a complete lack of humility, this is our solution. We are all feigning confidence to the greatest extent possible (because apparently it works- #1 on the Billboard charts). And we become this. “I love me, because I’m sexy and it ain’t my fault.” We become the people that make others feel less than. We become the people that told us our whole lives we weren’t good enough through hidden messages like “maybe she’s born with it… or maybe it’s Maybelline.” Only, we’re worse. We’re not hiding behind these cultural messages.. we’re walking billboards that you are not enough, because if I am not enough then you can’t be either.

Listen, I know confidence is not easy to find. It’s not. It’s maybe the hardest thing on this earth to find. But I believe we are all better than this. We ARE enough. We are capable. And we are also responsible. Let’s create a world where everyone is allowed to be beautiful and everyone is allowed to love different things and have different dreams, just like we wish we had growing up. Let’s stop putting others down because of our own insecurities and becoming ugly people in the process. I always say the most beautiful people in my life are the ones that make me feel beautiful just by being in their presence. The same is true with confidence.. true confidence makes me feel confident as well. There is no scarcity in this. There is enough to go around.

I love me, but I do this so that I can love you.

Because you are also enough.

-Joy

A Perfect Fit

I was in a yoga clinic the other day getting increasingly frustrated when I blurted out, “I just think my arms are too short.” I’d been trying to do many different balances over the past few months feeling like I’m constantly overcompensating for my short wingspan. The teacher stopped me from my next attempt and got the entire class’ attention. Then she asked another girl come to the front of the room.

Extended-Side-Angle-Yoga-PostI’d been watching this girl since the beginning of the class secretly envying her practice and her body type. She was very tall and slender, and of course had very long arms. The teacher says to the other girl, Joy thinks her arms are too short. The girl responded, “I’m always saying my arms are too long!” We both had to laugh a bit, and the teacher had us get into a side angle position (pictured to the left if you’re not a yogi) and showed us how we fit into ourselves. She said touch the ground and see how your arm fits the exact length of your leg? I looked at the other girl, and it was true. Then she had us stand back up and put our arms next to each other and hers were almost laughably longer than mine. The teacher reiterated, yes their bodies are made differently, but they fit into themselves.

To be honest, I teared up. I’ve been feeling such a burden lately seeing how we treat each other, particularly as women, which is my biggest inspiration to start this blog. We are so quick to compare ourselves. We inhibit our relationships with one another because we somehow think that each other’s beauty is a threat to our own. Instead of having beauty that is contagious and making the people around us feel valued, we feel threatened and are (consciously or subconsciously) create a rift. Some people tear other’s down in what looks like conceit or overconfidence to mask their feeling of inferiority. Some just make small remarks emphasizing the comparison to make themselves feel validated. And some just choose to avoid being friends with certain people because they feel they can’t measure up.

Why do we do this? Women in particular. Think of your best friends. Think of the most beautiful people you know. Why are they beautiful? I’ll tell you, I know plenty of pretty people. You know, the girls you go to high school with that ended up working at Hooters or started doing beauty pageants. I know plenty of pretty girls, but, the ones that come to mind when I think of the word beautiful are the ones who shine from their souls. Their beauty is contagious. They love themselves, and can love me back without threat of competition. They love me so hard, I love myself more when we are together. Some of them are blonde and hollywood approved looking, and some are moms who’ve gained 100 pounds. Somehow, that part of it is entirely irrelevant.

They are the perfect fit and they know it. Beautiful women fit inside their own skin, and they are confident enough in theirs to make you feel beautiful in yours. I think we all have our moments, moments when our beauty shines, and moments of weakness when the world starts to get to us and our bitterness spreads. There are times when we feel like we don’t quite fit into our lives, our dreams, our relationships, our jobs, and that is a part of life. But remember: you are the perfect fit. If your arms were a different length, they’d be too long or too short for your legs, but it doesn’t stop there. If you didn’t have the parents you had, the divorce you faced, the music you wrote, the heartbreak you experienced, the death of the one you loved.. if you didn’t have all of that, the pieces that make you you, you wouldn’t fit.

Your life was built for you. The people that come into your life were built around you, and you fit exactly there. All of your experiences and all of your difficulties including the moments you felt like you weren’t enough. Including the moments you felt like you didn’t fit. These are the parts that have built you, and they are perfectly assembled for you to make your mark on the world. You are always always enough. And you are always exactly where you need to be. Don’t compare yourself. Don’t hide your beauty away. Let’s feed that beauty that is contagious. It is inside every one of us.

Your life is a series of perfectly crafted pieces. It’s what you do with the pieces that lets your beauty shine and lights others on fire. You are beautiful. And you are a perfect, perfect fit.

From my heart to yours,

Joy