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Other Writings by Liz
How do we define ourselves? What sets us apart from everybody else? What makes us the same? Definitions of self change over time as we accumulate new information and alter our perceptions each and every moment.
And yet, are we limiting ourselves by defining ourselves? Are we limiting the way we see ourselves and each other by putting everyone into categories? By putting everything into boxes? How do you define yourself? How do other people see you? Who are we and who do we want to become?
We are often happier when we are undefined. When we are just allowed to be who we are, we’re happy. Definitions put us into boxes of prescribed notions of how we should act, who we should be, and how we should think and feel. Integrity is defined as being honest or being whole, depending on how you use it.
Are you being who you say you are, truly? No matter how you define yourself, are you true to yourself? Or are you constantly changing yourself depending on the company around you or the situation you are in? Are you a chameleon or do you put the real you out there?
We all struggle with integrity. We all struggle with being who we are. We want to fit in and we want to be loved for who we are. We’ve set expectations on how we should be loved and so we’ve defined the love we wish to receive in a particular way in return.
Once we realize our definitions on what it means to love, what it means to be loved, and what it means to be happy, we can see what is working for us and what is not working for us. Is that the way you want to continue to live your life?
I knew I had to change certain things about the way I perceived myself. All of my definitions of self were based on what I thought other people thought and believed. I thought I had to shave my legs to be accepted (which didn’t prove to be true after shaving my legs at the one-year mark and still freaking out what people thought of me).
I thought I needed to wear a bra and dress up all the time to be loved by the opposite sex (which was also proven to be false as I had a loving, supportive boyfriend for 8 years with and without a bra and whether I was wearing sweatpants or a two-hundred-dollar dress). I put all my limiting definitions of self into a box and I couldn’t see outside that box, even though I was still loved for having fuzzy legs and just being open and honest with myself.
Definitions are the stories we’ve made up. Are they your definitions or are they someone else’s? Did you know that there was a time before the dictionary and thesaurus were created in which people spelled things the way they wanted to, and people talked the way they were brought up to talk like, and yet society still functioned?
We’ve put all these labels on what is the right thing to do: the right way to spell a word, the right way to dress, the right way to act in public, the right way to talk. No one fits perfectly into that box.
Who are you? And I mean the real you, behind the mask, beneath the facade of the human shell we call a body, beyond all the labels you and society have given yourself and your body? Only you can answer that. I can’t tell you who you are or who you should be. Just like no one else can tell me who I am.
So What? Who Cares?
So, who are you beyond all the ideas, beliefs, and stories you have created around your body? We get to work backwards, and continue to work backwards, until we have the answer. Where did you get this idea about yourself?
It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact answer, but answers will still come to mind. Maybe you remembered an ad you saw on T.V. as a kid watching cartoons, or maybe it was something your parents said. Who are you? Why do you think the way you do? Why do you do the things you do?
And yet, the answers don’t really matter. Okay, so your mom told you that you were stupid and you would never amount to anything in your life. So what? Who cares?
Maybe your teacher said you should never speak in public because you have no idea what you are talking about. So what? Who cares? Maybe your ex-partner broke up with you to be with someone younger than you. So what? Who cares?
Do you care? Are you allowing yourself to be defined by someone else’s thought? By someone else’s opinion of themselves that they have projected upon you? Are you allowing someone else’s story to be the story you tell about yourself?
We’ve been conditioned to care what people think. We’ve been conditioned to believe that there is only one right way to be and that we have to work hard to be that one thing. The human body is not “wrong.” What we believe is not “wrong.”
We shame ourselves more than other people shame us. We keep ourselves in a line we’ve defined and stick to walking that line as our entire life. Can you change your definition of self? Can you not care what other people think of you? Can you not care what happens to you? Yes, you can, but do you want to.
That person has hairy legs. So what? Who cares? That person is wearing pajamas in the store. So what? Who cares? That woman isn’t wearing makeup. So what? Who cares?
You can choose to change your beliefs. You can choose to not be affected by what other people think of you, or what you think of yourself. You can say “I don’t believe that anymore.” You are free to believe something new, especially about yourself.
So what? Who cares? Use these questions as another tool when your mind starts to run amok thinking of all the elaborate definitions and stories you created about a person, place, or thing.
Ok, so John doesn’t like me because I like turtles and he is more of a dolphin fan. So what? Who cares? Katherine won’t go out with me because she wants to date someone taller. So what? Who cares? Keep asking, keep wondering, keep figuring out who you are and who you want to be, and just be that.
Don’t worry about what is going on around you. You have to be okay with yourself; because that is the one person you are stuck with your entire life. It is your head, those are your thoughts, so choose which ones you want to believe from this moment on and get okay with the rest.
-Excerpt from "The Fuzzy Leg Experiment: How I Grew to Love Myself in Two Years"
by Elizabeth Crooks
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