I was born a perfectionist.
And one of my earliest memories of my perfectionism was the habit of making my bed every morning as a child – something relatively trivial but which seemed extraordinary at the time.
As the years passed and even right into my adult life, I realized the inordinate amount of time I’d spend fussing over every wrinkle and crease. It just had to be perfect. Ask bae!
Ensuring my bed was perfectly made was a sign of something deeper. I started my day with perfection because I wanted my whole day, and my life, to be perfect. To be predictable. To be safe.
I craved predictability because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. Although a bright student at school, my teenage years were fraught with the idea that I would be a chubby misfit with a “BIG MAMA A**” my whole life.
I craved safety because I was often teased by friends and family about how big my butt really was and how “physically different” I was to my teenage peers.
No matter how hard I tried to hide my imperfections (baggy jeans, big shirts, shapeless dresses), my body wouldn’t cooperate. The more I fought it, the more insecure I became.
I was ashamed. And regardless of the A grades and school achievements, it literally ate away at my self-confidence.
As I reached early adulthood and in particular, after signing my first job after graduation, it slowly dawned on me that the work of my life was not to efface all my imperfections but to let the imperfection itself become perfect.
One day, I simply decided to accept my body, just as it was. I would not try to become a zero size model; I would just be me.
Over time, something amazing happened. I became happier, more at peace with myself and inevitably grew a sense of pride in my achievements which lead to unwavering confidence in my capabilities.
My negative body image and the years of self-destructive dialogue in my head ceased.
Now, I know many of you are wondering why I’d even consider sharing such a private and intimate part of my life…of myself. But you’d be surprised how “coming out” on social media has actually helped me grow as a person.
I figure if my story can inspire or help anyone out there then I am doing something right.
One woman’s (my own) perspective of a few things I have had to consider on the road to self-acceptance :
Accept that you are imperfectly perfect
In my quest for perfection, the energy I spent on an unrealistic goal was ironically worsening my situation. Exhausted from trying to mask my curves I realized that they were and would always be a part of me and that I was fine just the way I was.
This realization allowed me to focus my energy on the blessing in my life.
Today I feel powerful and an unexplainable sense of relief and freedom that I’ve managed to apply to other areas of my life, especially work.
Some of the most painful memories of being a “fat teenager” include the merciless teasing from my friends, the pitiful looks from strangers, and the demands of family to “watch my food.” Like what does that even mean? I was just a teenager, going through a million other problems, realizing I had little to NO control of the changes I was going through!
So, behind the extroverted, smarty-pants demeanor, I began to shut down, especially in my post graduate years. I fought my demons in silence, trying every method under the sun in the hopes that it would cure my heartache and make my “big bum” disappear! That was until the day I decided to speak up and admit I had a problem. As painful and ridiculous exposing myself seemed at first, I felt more and more empowered each time I did.
Over time, the unexpected began to happen — I stopped internalizing the looks and comments of others. I no longer saw them as a reflection of myself.
Let your imperfections change you for the better
Its naturally difficult for anyone to confront their imperfections openly and honestly. It’s always easier to see the downsides then the upsides.
In my attempts to draw people away from focusing on my “physique“, I became very cerebral and developed a passion for documenting my thoughts or speaking in public. Over the years, I’ve become an efficient communicator and have been given unexpected opportunities to demonstrate this “new skill” on an executive level. I’ve learned to develop my listening skills and am particularly good at aligning my thoughts. I am also a keen observer of non-verbal cues. When I speak, I feel my thoughts are clear, succinct, and add to my discussions in meaningful ways.
Let your imperfections inspire others
I struggled with this idea for a while. But if you think back to your favorite childhood fairytales, notice how the main characters rarely led perfect lives?
Through self-acceptance, I have been able to push myself beyond my comfort zone and fight for things I previously thought were impossible like leaving South Africa at the age of 19 to pursue my studies, start a career and build a life for myself far from my family and references.
Today I hold a double Masters degree, have a good job, promising career perspectives and rank amongst some of the top performers in my firm.
From the feedback I get from Instagram and my social channels, sharing my story has inspired other people struggling to overcome their personal difficulties.
Self-Acceptance is a lifelong journey
Despite all the progress I have made in my life, and the momentum I get from daily victories, the struggle persists, especially with age.
There are some days when I totally feel like a “fat-slob” because I’m either tired, stressed, or anxious about a deal at work. Sometimes self-doubt creeps back in. On these days, I recommit to my decision to not let my old demons and imperfection silence me. I continue to “dress my curves“, even on days when I don’t feel like it.
We all feel this way too from time to time, but know that it’s a part of the journey.
With time, you realize that it doesn’t get easier, you only get better.
Don’t let your imperfections prevent you from accomplishing your goals and dreams.
Don’t let them hold you back from living.
Let your imperfections transform you!
Love Teekay xx
Coat (Vero Moda)
Clutch (Louis Vuitton)
All images are Copyright©
Photos credits by Nanamybrass
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