Last year, about this time, I earned the ire of my so-called friends by making the best of my dead-end job, taking lots of selfies, exercising (woot, INSANITY), blogging, meditating, writing (job applying and reflecting), driving, and social mediating. So much so that a friend challenged to give up social media for a week and dress more J Crew than Hot Topic.
Giving up social media for a week was refreshing, but I didn't learn anything from it other than I needed Facebook messenger in order to keep the number of text messages I sent and received within my parents' plan.
Dressing more J Crew was out of the question since my salary was below poverty and my great aunt sent me cool clothes for free. Besides, bright colours--save neon exercise clothes--look painfully bad on me because I have pale skin and dark hair. Ownie Mom agrees about this, and as my tailor, she doesn't make anything brighter than blood red skirts for me.
See, I love having a blog because I explain myself without interruptions. It's my soapbox in my own web domain.
The well-intended purposes of these tasks--dares--was to make me less self-centred. Now I defend myself since I have the words. Yes, 2013 was my year of living from the ego instead of the spirit. I chose to work a job that was "beneath me" and learned a lot in the process. I don't think working as a cashier was beneath me because it challenged me to stretch in ways I never had to as an academic or white-collar worker. Valuing the blue-collar is an old topic here, so I move on.
It doesn't matter what clothes a person wears; self-centredness will continue or not because that's a trait that runs more than skin deep. Caelum non animum. Changing the internal needs more than external stimuli sometimes. Celebrating how I was changing my body for the better through exercise and diet and also assuring myself I was still alive through all the pressure of a crazy schedule and constant bombardment with people--let a kid take a selfie, OK? I invented the #sevendaysofskirts hashtag; it wasn't a success, but I ran a social media campaign for fun. Other people do more inane--and might I add, harmful--things on the Web. Besides, I wasn't and am not vain. If I were vain, I'd wear makeup and shave my legs and care about the so-called "message" my clothes were sending.
I remember describing this outfit:
to my peer coach in a practice health coaching call and she said it made me look "ready and willing." I thought a button down shirt with only the collar and last button undone, lime camisole, regular women's mid-thigh shorts, opaque silver tights, Docs, and US Navy Petty Officer First Class hat (not pictured) was pretty damn conservative and color-coordinated. No matter what I wore, I got hit on at work. I could have worn a burqa and it wouldn't have mattered; apparently my face is pretty. Note that I never hashtag a photo with #beautiful or #pretty or #hot. Not my style. Those are judgments that other people are free to make; they can call me ugly, too, whatever. My self-esteem does not depend upon the approval of random Interwebs people, or even upon the approval of people I know in real life. Just never tell me to stop being me.
...me and my woodland camouflage BDU shorts, black tights, argyle socks, and probably a Lady Gaga shirt.
...Or a Straightedge xLFODx shirt. I mean, really, people, what's wrong with celebrating being sober? I don't drink or do drugs, and I'm not telling anyone to stop, unless they really should because they're hurting themselves or others. People misbehave when under the influence, and I'm not about to join that flock of sheep what thinks they need to drink at all or do drugs in order to have a good time. That's bullshit and fear right there.
Vain people are afraid: afraid the outside might reflect the corrupt(?) inside, afraid of not being accepted into a certain clique because they don't conform to "the rules." One friend accused me of trading one form of conformity for another; i.e., by rejecting preppy dress and embracing Goth dress, I was just following "unity in nonconformity." Also false.
I am myself. If being myself happens to mean I'm most easily classified as Goth, so be it. I am creative, and hey, interesting clothing combinations are one way to express that. In a natural foods store with one of the most liberal dress codes in the industry, I did what I could, and people began to recognize me for my socks. Or they were checking out my ass. Heck if I know.
Also, one of the most important things I did last year to push myself, to break out of a rut, was to do Beachbody INSANITY. I loved it and I loved to share that I had completed my workout each day. I loved my results; while I didn't lose weight, I gained muscle and endurance and I lost sizes. I was at the weight my doctor told me I should be, for my height. I was fit enough to do anything I wanted. I loved my protein shakes and weird veggie food. I still ate dessert every day. I was finally recovering from bulimia in 2013.
Oh. My. Goth. You would've think I had told little children to go to Hell from the response I received for sharing my workouts and noticing my results. "You're too thin." "Your ribs and hips shouldn't show like that." "You're not still doing that crazy exercise program are you?" Now, at a BMI that's classified as overweight and twenty pounds above the healthy weight and body composition for my height, one "friend" told me I didn't "look like I would blow away in a strong wind" and I looked "so healthy." I don't think I ever told anyone--except those whom I was coaching--to lose a single pound or to eat more veggies. I especially am not a vegangelical.
Wait, Q, didn't you just say not to judge people from the outside yet you're judging yourself on your weight, which has little bearing on your character? Ah hah, you have been paying attention, dear reader!
If the purpose of social media is to share what's going on in our lives, why wouldn't I share how I'm taking care of myself? If my self-care is different from your self-care, who's to say who's doing better? Self-care is a one size fits one endeavour. What I do for me is not what you do for you, and that is OK.
I took what others said to heart, because underneath all the selfies and protein shakes and new clothes, I was still totally unstable. I couldn't separate the censorious voices from the compassionate ones. Giving into the censorious voices and the shame they rained, I relapsed.
I wasn't happy, wasn't content with the status quo, but I felt powerless to do anything about it since "you must follow the crowd and you must not talk about yourself." Weight, appearance, whatever, not important. What was important was that I wasn't myself. A friend told me I was "lost" in September of 2013, when I was wasting my intellect/developing more practical skills. Pff. I was lost from when I got a new job until I finally saw a naturopath in April.
I lost interest in social media for a while the beginning of this year because I no longer believed I had anything important to say. From ego-centric to low self-esteem, there was no in-between. Looking through my Instagram feed was more depressing than inspiring.
Then I realised I had something to say. It was a gradual process, but I remember what one of my metaphysical church friends tells me often: I was given my food allergies because I'm here to teach others how to eat.
I watched Brene Brown's TEDx Talks on shame. I went to the Casey Health Institute. I began to be myself again. To hear the writing voices and record what they say. To write again, creatively. To reflect. To exercise. To drink the green juice.
Now, with all that, these muffins. They are super-easy to make, but the recipe lacks description. The originals are MINI muffins. Not regular-sized muffins. The picture on The Pretty Bee's blog looks nothing like the outcome; the picture almost looks like raw coconut banana chocolate chip treats. Which would be delicious, but they are not the muffins at hand. Also, the original recipe has no leavening, which is probably why they look like raw treats. Again, great, but a smidge of baking soda puts this at six ingredients. Add salt and xanthan gum, and you've got yourself a traditional muffin lookalike.
Banana Almond Muffins
Modified from The Pretty Bee
- 2 ripe bananas (1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or paper a 6-well regular muffin tin or a 12-well mini muffin tin.
In a blender or food processor, blitz bananas, coconut oil, and sugar until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the blender and blitz until combined. Transfer to the pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Delicious! Don't care how they look on the outside, they are awesome on the inside!
And so, unless the point of those two dares--to dress more mainstream and to give up social media--was supposed to return me to myself, then the challenger lost. No via negativa here: by making time for what I love, I returned to myself. I didn't have to share every--or any--detail to an audience who didn't like what I did when I did what enjoyed. The lost art of self care.
I can tell you for a fact--thank you Facebook archive for backing up my memory--that my being more fiercely individualistic was not the goal of the game. I'm no sheep for liking selfies, exercise, and the color black. I'm healthy, active, and I confidently am my creative, blogging, muffin-baking, crazy sock-wearing self. No shame in my game!
Here's a #flexin selfie!