I was talking with a coworker today about work related….blah blah blah. While we were talking I noticed that she would “sneak” quick glances at my body like she disapproved of my attire (she was not “checking me out”). I’m sure she thought she was being subtle, little did she know that I’ve taken on the gift/curse of hyper-vigilance and as discrete as she may have thought she was being, darting eyes don’t get passed me. It wasn’t until her darting eyes kept sneaky glances at my body that I became quite insecure about my body and what I was wearing. I literally spent the rest of the day sucking in my stomach as I walked from here to there and everywhere.
I don’t consider myself overweight by any means, but that’s not to say I’m happy with my body. I would love to lose about 10 lbs and tighten up a bit. I’m 5′ 4 1/2″ and I weigh 140 lbs +/- 5 lbs depending on the month, my mood, and my eating habits. Today I was sporting a long-sleeved athletic shirt, it was semi form fitting but still lose enough that it didn’t cling. It’s one of my favorite shirts and it’s really comfortable (until someone keeps darting their eyes at your body and you become self-conscious about it). I didn’t pay much mind to how it fit when I put it on this morning, as I’ve worn this shirt several times. After my insecurities and self-conscious thoughts kicked in I began to notice that my little tummy poodge was a bit noticeable in this shirt and my newly washed/dried jeans weren’t really helping much either. My muffin top was a little more muffiny than normal.
In no time at all I had thoughts such as “I need to start exercising”, “I’m not wearing this shirt again until I lose a few lbs”, “does everyone realize how chubby I am in this shirt?”, “Am I sucking in enough?”, “Can they tell I’m sucking in?”. I found myself periodically pulling at my shirt in an attempt to stretch it just a bit. I noticed I had subconsciously started using my hands and arms to try to cover my stomach. I tried to sit up as straight as possible as to not cause my stomach to not look even more poodgy than it already was. I mean, at this point I wasn’t far off of my muffiny muffin top being a damn cake! At least that’s how I felt.
Then I realized how ridiculous I was being. I love this shirt and I’ve received many compliments on it. I don’t weigh any more or less than I did the last dozen or more times I’ve worn it. Maybe she wasn’t looking at me in judgement, maybe she also liked the shirt. Or maybe she was looking at me with judgement. Either way, why did I care so much? I let those few minutes of interacting with said coworker affect the rest of my day with constant ridiculous thoughts about my body. Why was I letting my made up perception of what her looks meant make me feel the way it did?
My thought of the day was, “How easy it is for one person to trigger such insecurities and self-conscious beliefs about myself. All of the negative thoughts I was telling myself, and believing, about why she kept looking at my body/shirt the way she did were all presumptions made on my part. Was I placing how I view myself on her, making it easier for me not to own what I don’t like about myself? Were my presumptions of her thoughts really a reflection of my own?”
My take away is this:
If my presumptions of her thoughts were really a reflection of my own thoughts, then I need to change something I am doing; I need to own my own self-image and change what I don’t like.
If she was looking with judgement, then I need to remember that what other people think of me is none of my business.
If I am wrong on all accounts and she just liked my shirt, then I need to stop over-analyzing (did I mention I’m a little hyper-vigilant?)
Whatever the reality of the situation was, what I do know is that I’m not the only one who experiences situations like this. Hyper-vigilance is a symptom, healing is a process, and awareness is the first step to recovery.
We must begin to love ourselves, even the imperfections. After all, we’re only human.