We often pursue thinness because we want to be enough. We want to be worthy, and so we search for the very things we assume will get us there. In our culture that usually means our looks — and changing them.
But it doesn’t have to be. It could be yearning for a different personality or past or present. It could be a feeling that sits in your stomach that you’re just not right somehow.
Recently I came across a beautiful series on photographer and author Tracey Clark’s blog called “I am Enough.” I was blown away by these women’s stories.
I could relate so much to their words, and I think you will, too.
Even today after years of body and self image struggles (and victories), it’s interesting that I still find myself caught up in a cycle of unhealthy wishes. Wishes that deem me unworthy as I am.
I’ve wished that I wasn’t so serious or sensitive; that I didn’t dwell in my head. I’ve wished that I was more muscular or even smaller. I’ve wished I was different in so many ways.
While it’s wonderful to wish and dream, these kinds of desires don’t do us any justice. They leave us treading water in a pool of negativity and even shame. They undermine, and they sabotage.
These wishes are part of bigger stories we create; the stories that tell ourselves we’re simply not enough as we are.
And when we wholeheartedly believe these stories, we look for proof of our not-enoughness everywhere — and we always find it.
I made myself invisible.
And I was.
Everywhere I looked I saw proof of that.
Proof that I was a mousy younger sister of someone beautiful, that people noticed. Proof that by her side I disappeared. Proof that no one found me attractive and that I would never be loved. Proof that I was doing everything wrong. Proof that how I walked, ate, swallowed, even breathed was annoying to someone around me, so I must be horrible to be around. I took looks of disgust and counted them as evidence that I was invisible, or at least should be.
Harsh, I know.
When we seek out proof of a story we’ve created for ourselves (or accepted), we can find it. Interpreting every bit of criticism or negativity as proof of that story we wrote into our bones.
I believed those things and consistently saw the proof of them.
For McMaster it was empowering to realize that these stories are a choice. She discovered a different kind of proof through her lens:
One of the most profound ways I made this choice was turning the camera on myself. When I did that I created a space where only I was in control of the way I see myself. Where there was room for what was quirky about me, where there was room for all of my identity. Where there was room to see my body as beautiful in its curves, all 200+ pounds of it.
I became the narrator of my own story.
I just started to let myself be seen, by me.
That led to feeling seen by others.
I was no longer invisible and now I had reclaimed personal power over how I was to be seen.
I just finally started to see the proof in myself. In the mirror, through the lens.
I love the idea of using an inspiring instrument to explore and discover that we’re truly enough. This is different from trying to change ourselves so we finally believe that we’re worthy human beings. This means changing our perspective and sharpening our vision.
It’s a technique that I’d never tried before. I’ve pursued change and transformation and yearned for so many different things. But I’ve rarely pursued a way to see better, a way to narrate my own story.
And the Winner of Susannah Conway’s book is:
Misty, who left the following beautiful comment:
I just moved my office so that I’m right next to a window which gets a gorgeous breeze. I’m trying to remember every few minutes to be mindful and feel the breeze on my skin and in my hair. So soft and cool!
Thanks so much to everyone who commented!