“The body was a cage, and inside that cage was something which looked, listened, feared, thought, and marveled; that something, that remainder left over after the body had been accounted for, was the soul” –– Milan Kundera
Human duality is body and soul: they are the two opposing parts of who we are. The makeup of our basic humanity.
But, for as long as I can remember, I have struggled with both my body and my soul. On one hand, I’m too fat, I’m too round, I’m too chubby, my hair is too fuzzy, my nose too big, my teach stick out out etc, etc. On the other hand, I’ve accused my soul of being weak, not enough, too sensitive, not smart enough, not intellectual enough. I’m going to stop here because the list of slogans that lead to self hatred and resentment can go on and on.
The thing is, I’m not alone. Because for as long as I can remember, none of my friends, or the women in my life have been satisfied, or completely happy with who they are and how they look. They are always on some kind of diet or exercise plan; calling themselves fat, not toned enough. I know women who have gotten plastic surgery, chemically changed their hair, pile on thick layers of makeup. My friends always tell me they are not smart enough, that they’re dumb, that they don’t have enough to offer.
I remember, starting from the age of 12, looking at my body in the mirror, staring at it. Who am I? Am I what i see in front of me? Does my soul, does my ‘being’ shine through this pasty white skin? But most importantly, do I see what others see? When you look at me, will I see the same thing in the mirror? Because what I’ve always seen is imperfection. I look at only what I hate. Even at age 12, I saw that. I was angry that I was flat chested. I focused on my protruding tummy, sucking in the air. I resented my spotted freckles. Could I ever be the perfect person, if I looked like this? Because if I looked like that, I felt like that. Horrible. Defeated. Unhappy.
Even today, I stare at myself in the mirror- looking at my stomach, hoping that dieting, and exercise will flatten it out. Hoping that I’ll transform myself into an image I have stored in my imagination of what I should be, of how I should look.
Yet, the thing is, I’ll never be happy, none of us will be, as long as we are always chasing a perception of what we should be. I listen to some of my closest friends, who I see as “skinny” and beautiful complain about their stomachs, or their bodies, or their hair or their faces. I sit there stunned and wondering, how someone that beautiful can complain. I had one of my smartest friends tell me she’s not smart enough, that she’s just not that smart. My face fell flat. What is enough?
But what else can I expect? When even the most beautiful and thin girls in the media need to be additionally airbrushed, thinned out into an imaginary standard that is non- existent, how are we supposed to connect with ourselves? With our own body which can never even physically compare?
Until it hits you, that unless we celebrate what and who we are RIGHT NOW, we’ll never be happy. Even if I lose every bit of weight I’ve ever wanted, I’ll find something else to see fault in.
And so, because I don’t want to live my life in a never ending race that I can never win, I’m starting a 365 day challenge. I already live a healthy lifestyle: I exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. I read constantly, I’m always learning, challenging expanding my mind. BUT there is an obscene unhealthiness in looking at myself in that mirror and wishing I saw something different. There is unhealthiness to expect myself to be more, when I’m already enough. There’s a difference between wanting to grow and putting myself down. I want to love who I am right here and now. With an extra 5 pounds, or without it. With a bad hair day, or without it.
And so, I’m challenging myself this year to love myself more fuller than I ever have before.
What is the challenge? Each day I will write a post about one thing I love about my body, and one thing I love about my mind/soul. It can be something small, and it can be something huge. But no matter the day, no matter how much self loathing I have that day, I want to tell myself what I love about myself, what is WORTH loving.
And so this challenge is much more than a list of what I love about my body: It’s a lesson in love. In self acceptance. In being healthy. In happiness. Because the more I love of me, the happier I’ll be. And with only one life to live, with only each day to hold in my hand in the context of my existence, I want to love every second, I want to smile more, I want to feel lightness in my step but bring depth to my soul. This can only be done from the inside out.
I know this journey can’t be easy. I know that in the depths of my soul there is darkness. Darkness that in the past has held me back from even uttering that I like myself: That I accept myself in any shape or form. But I’m stepping away from that darkness and opening myself to a challenge that will bring me to the opposite side. No matter how hard self love, acceptance and happiness can be, I deserve it, WE ALL DESERVE IT.
And so, as I blog through this personal challenge, I hope that whoever stumbles upon my blog can join me. I’m not writing this in public for myself, but for YOU. So please join me in rejoicing in the self: in the body and soul. Write your own comments about what you love about yourself, about your own challenges and fears. Join me in celebrating ourselves, no matter where we are, where we’re heading, or where we’ve come from. Because with more love, we have nothing to lose and only that to gain.