For perhaps two decades now, I have heard it said that for women, your thirties are a time when you become comfortable in your own skin. A time when you embrace those quirks and imperfections and care much less about the opinions of those who have invested very little in your life.
Part of me agrees with this. I am certainly at a place where I am so comfortable being me, perhaps even more so than at any other point in my life. I am also in my thirties, so I guess if I put the two together the statement does ring true.
The other part of me believes this is the case because of the people I have chosen to surround myself with, the values and support instilled in me growing up, the love I am shown constantly by my husband, sons, and family and friends, and the challenges I have been able to experience.
I love this place in my life because I am completely aware that social media provides a very limited snapshot into people's lives where you only see what people let you see. For this reason, I don't post a lot of photos on my Facebook page. If I were to post photos regularly, they would include photos of my cleaning my hair off the bathroom floor, off the bath, out of the sink, and pretty much everywhere else in the house. It would show photos of me sweeping the floor and muttering to myself. Me washing the dishes and then stopping mid-way and forgetting about them, leaving a sink full of dishes in stone cold water. Me lying in bed playing solitaire when I know I should get up but am feeling lazy. This would be the honest shots of me. True, real, photos of me. I am all for honesty, but this would be boring for anyone who I am friends with on social media, so instead of manufacturing glamorous, but far from genuine, photos to post on a regular basis; I just live my life and forget to post photos. And it's actually very liberating. I still go on Facebook daily, but I appreciate the understanding that everything I see has been carefully selected for public viewing.
Along with this I have taken greater effort in surrounding myself with people who put a bounce in my step. People who don't make me feel like I need to tidy up my house before I would be comfortable with them coming over. If I don't have to make "the fake house" for you, I want you in my life. I will still apologise for the mess, but I'm ok with you seeing it because you can appreciate that I have a life, and children, and this means things get messy despite my daily tidying up. These are the people I choose to surround myself with because they make me feel like being me isn't just "good enough", it's exactly who I should be.
I was brought up feeling like being who you are shouldn't feel like hard work. We should always strive to try and improve in areas that we want to improve, but there was also that acceptance that no one is perfect and the acknowledgment and acceptance of flaws is realistic and perfectly ok. I was never told by my parents that I should "watch my weight" or "exercise more" or anything like that. I was already aware of what the world deemed a "good body" by the time I was 11, but I didn't feel the pressure to try and become that. I have never been on a diet.
I have also found a man who tells me every single day that I am beautiful. It doesn’t matter if I am in my pj’s or dressed in my Sunday best, he sees beauty in me and he tells me so.
For these reasons and many more, I am l am comfortable in my own skin. My physical body is far from perfect, but boy am I proud of what it has achieved. It has endured great pain, it has been broken over and over and it manages to repair itself the best it can, it has grown two human beings and then was cut open to bring them into my arms, and it continues to function every day despite the pain. Some days it functions better than others, but I am proud of my body because it works hard and has given me this life that I am so thankful for.
Enough with all the body hate and shame - I don’t have a perfect body at all, but I am proud. I am proud to be who I am.