It all started with a pair of denim shorts.
They weren't short enough to reveal a bit of cheek (I'm not about that life), but for me, they were brave and a confident statement.
I could hear them calling me in all their acid wash glory -- a subtle rip across the thigh, frayed details and back pockets stitched closely together to make any booty look perky (you can thank me later for that one).
They were so Miley Cyrus' “Party In The USA” and in a moment of madness, I bought them. They were perfect, and I rushed back in excitement to try them on, envisioning everything I had in my wardrobe to wear them with on the journey home.
Would they be my new go-to-garment to give me the confidence I craved so badly?
I stared at myself in the mirror with disappointment as I tried to squeeze them over my thighs, jumping, dancing and wriggling around in every way possible to fit my body into them. I threw myself on the bed in defeat – shorts still wedged at my knees. They didn't fit.
In all honesty, they were badly made.
The denim had no give and there was no way they would've complemented my body shape. But it was too late, my mind had started running away with me: Had I gained weight? Had everyone around me noticed my weight gain? Why didn't anyone tell me? Were people laughing at me?
I felt like a failure. I never thought a piece of clothing could trigger such feelings of self-loathing and, sadly, losing weight was the only way out I could see.
Months later, while the shorts were gathering dust in my wardrobe, it became apparent to me that looking confident and feeling confident are very different things; body weight should not and cannot bridge the gap between the two.
I had lost around 30 pounds through vigorous gym work and healthy eating; I was the fittest I'd ever been in my life, yet I still felt self-conscious, with the expression of disappointment still ingrained in my mind when I realized nothing seemed to fit me anymore.
We seem to make every excuse in the book to create a distance between where we are now and where we want to be, in our lives and in our bodies.
Confidence will only be achieved once we've lost a few pounds; we can get into that dress from last summer; we can proudly wear a bikini on holiday; we are comfortable enough to wear skin tight gym apparel (then maybe we'll actually workout?), once we can hashtag #BodyGoals and mean it on Instagram. Then we'll be happy, right?
Body confidence is only a *insert your biggest body hang up here* away.
Finally, all my clothes fit like a glove, and people were asking me how I did it, how I was so confident and what lotions and potions I used to suddenly break out of my shell into the supposed butterfly I had become.
So, why didn't I feel like one? Why had my body transformed, and I had everything I'd ever wanted, yet I still felt insecure and unsatisfied with my body?
I had everything I'd ever wanted, yet I still felt insecure and unsatisfied with my body?
Even if I had a flat stomach, it wasn't flat enough. Even if my legs were slim, they still weren't slim enough… you get where I'm going with this.
There will be another level to reach when one has been completed, and another flaw to widen the gap between the current situation and the main goal of total body confidence.
It's so easy to become caught up in the idea of physical transformation that we forget the real meaning of being confident. It's very much internal. It's subtly woven throughout our daily lives without us even realizing it.
We need to focus on the confidence behind the words we speak, our beliefs, actions and capabilities, our thoughts, feelings and interactions; everything our minds instinctively do on a daily basis to make us bold, beautiful and, most importantly, human.
Our minds make us confident, not how well we fit into some denim monstrosities.
Focusing on feeling good instead of looking good will make the whole idea of body perfectionism seem rather pointless.
Doing the activities that feed our souls – the ones that don't feel like a chore -- brings a whole new meaning to inner confidence. Naturally, curiosity will push us to discover more of what we can do. Confidence grows.
The next level will be reached. Confidence grows some more. Hello next level, then above and beyond.
Before we know it, we're at the gym in the in those dreaded skin tight gym leggings, sweating like never before, looking a mess – but who cares? WE FEEL AMAZING. And, oh boy, does it show.
Looking after our mind and bodies from the inside, and focusing on how we see ourselves instead of how others see us, will ultimately create an inner confidence that will shine on the outside.
Now I read, I write, I've taken up yoga; I expand my knowledge on the subjects I care about – because it makes me feel confident within.
And that, my friends, is how you actually rock a pair of shorts.