It is human nature to hold insecurities about ourselves. We second-guess our intelligence and our intuitions. We wonder if the person we like, likes us back. We doubt our abilities and downplay our triumphs and successes.
Regretfully, I am most insecure about my body. After all, when I started The Plus last May, I was inspired by my issues with body image. I embarked on a journey dedicated to self-love and body positivity. I am a body positive advocate, who also encourages healthy living. I have seen the most success when I have worked on my health and my body, while also accepting and loving my body as is. You have to coach yourself when you work toward becoming more body positive. A great coach encourages people to try their absolute hardest and continue getting better, while also playing to his/her team members strengths.
My insecurities about my body are deeply rooted – they come almost directly from living with hemihypertrophy. Instead of writing about what hemihypertrophy is (wikipedia can do that far better than I can), I thought I’d share my experiences with living with it and the interesting responses that people give me when I tell them I have it. If anything, maybe someone out there who has hemihypertrophy like me, will come across this blog and feel that they are not alone.
If you are close with me you know that I almost always want to be on the left side in photos. This is because my right side is noticeably (or unnoticeably if you’re not me, lol) bigger than my left. I like when my good side is featured in photos. In fact I am usually pretty quick to “untag” myself in photos where I somehow ended up on the right side (It’s a rare occurrence because I’m picky and annoying). In some instances I have come across other people who also have a “good side” and who fight me to be on the left side. Whenever that happens I just use the hemihypertrophy card. (I’m sorry and I swear I’m working on not doing this anymore – it’s part of my body positive initiative to stop caring about where I stand in photos)
One of the most common responses when someone finds out I have hemihypertrophy is that they never would have noticed if I hadn’t told them. When I tell people I’m very precise in showing where I notice it the most. I show them my wrists and compare them. I say “Look doesn’t my right wrist look swollen?” Or I’ll turn from the left side to the right, highlighting the differences in my shoulders. Or I’ll smile for them and say “Can’t you see the difference in my face?” It is encouraging when people tell me it is unnoticeable, but that does not take away from the fact that I notice it every single day.
Shopping for clothes is the most frustrating part, as I’m sure you could imagine. DENIM is a nightmare. If I find a jean coat that fits my right arm, you bet your ass I’ll be buying it. Jean jackets that fit are hard to come by.
Another response I get is that I am so much better off than so many people. I’m not dying of cancer, I don’t have a missing limb, and all my senses work just fine. Trust me, I realize this and I am so grateful that I don’t have it worse, but that does not make my insecurity any less real. It does not dismiss the countless number of days my family spent worrying about me. It does not flip a switch that magically makes me more accepting of myself just because I don’t have it as bad.
I like to think I’m a gracious person. At the end of each day, I write down what I was grateful for that day – I even have a group of people I text the grateful message too. I tip well, I say thank you when I should, and I don’t ask for much. I am very grateful that I do not have it worse off, but I guess I have a point to make here…
Let’s take this full circle. Let’s go back to the beginning of this post when I mentioned human nature. Along with having insecurities, I think it is also human nature to compare people. (That’s actually where a lot of insecurities probably come from) What I’m getting at is that every person’s experiences are different and everyone experiences their own set of hardships, if we continue to resort to supporting people by telling them they could have it so much worse, their feelings and struggles get swept under the rug and become less real. I’m not suggesting we all sit in a circle and talk about our feelings all the time. I just think it is important to recognize that people’s insecurities and hardships are real, true and valid. Pointing out that people have it so much worse is a nice reminder to stay gracious, but a somewhat deflating reminder in that I feel like my insecurities and feelings about my hemihypertrophy aren’t justified. At the end of the day hemihypertrophy is something an average person has not had to live with. It’s a rare disorder most people don’t even know exists.
1:Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.