“You dig. You isolate and you ache from being lonely. You heal. You accept. You look in the mirror and see God.”
At 27 I still have a hard time dealing with my height. This is something I will always criticize myself about. Ironically, it’s the low-hanging fruit of my fault-finding.
I’m not freakishly tall, but I am, most definitely, well above the average woman’s height. I’m basically six-foot, but I do not stand six feet tall: Oftentimes it’s more like, six feet small. Deep down I reeeally fucking hate being such a lankbean. It makes me feel alien and oversized and frankly, undateable. I already have an incredibly strong personality, so when you factor this in with my domineering height, it’s too much for some.
I know this is me overreacting to something I had no control over and cannot change. Yet even though I’m aware my height-related insecurity is an unnecessary form of self-flagellation, it doesn’t alter the situation. Nor does it affect how I periodically feel.
Not sounding particularly self-love-y, hey? So where does this SL come in? When do self-worth and self-esteem make their grand entrances? And how do you find yours? Step 1:
Getting older changes things. You’re no longer the impenetrable life force you were as a kid, the world’s knocked you about a little bit. Perhaps you’ve seen “behind the curtain,” so to speak, or your confidence has been shaken.
I used to wear my giraffe height proudly. It was the thing that made me stand out and was how I defined myself as a youngin’. I also used to wear heels and wouldn’t give two figs if someone commented on my soaring stature. I’d interpret the “Wow, you’re so talls” as “Wow, you’re so specials,” not the “Wow, you’re so massive,” which I have done the past few years.
“You cannot build a strong person from a shaky foundation.”
Ever-so-slowly I chipped away at my self-confidence. I did. Me. I allowed others’ opinions to feed my growing insecurities. But then, thankfully, little reminders of how I used to be popped up. Gradually I became cognizant of this timid version of myself and how she wasn’t who I wanted to be. Yet I didn’t know how to return to me.
Now, whenever I’ve a problem, I retreat. In my cave, I do the heavy-duty digging and locate the issue. With enough effort, I eventually find the solution. From this I’ve learned that it’s only from being fully alone, do you uncover epiphanies that lead you to finding self-love. Which is why the next part of the process means…
The bastard about generating self-love is that it can only come from doing the hard work: It comes from turning yourself inside out, illuminating the darker areas of your soul — you know; the manky, slightly scary parts you try to forget you have — and owning your shit. To do this you need alone time.
You need to withdraw from daily distractions and give yourself the emotional room to lay out everything (mentally and/or literally on paper) — your issues, the areas of yourself you’d like to develop, the parts of yourself you’re most proud of — and learn why you think the way you do, why you act the way you do.
This is not fun. But it’s also essential to you becoming a better human. You cannot build a strong person from a shaky foundation, so you need to tend to yours. The only way for others — the “right” kind of others, namely the high quality people you want to be surrounded by — to love you is if you love yourself. Cheesy beyond belief, but a truism nonetheless.
“You are your own problem, your own solution.”
Ultimately you are your own problem, and your own solution. The near-unbearable ache of being lonely and processing this puzzle takes time. It’s a gross, uncomfortable phase, but it’s key in finding self-love. Mindfulness is an essential ingredient, too, as you force yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling. Instead of stifling the emotions and thoughts, just like waves, you learn ride ’em out. They’ll roll in, and roll right out again if you let them, if you surrender.
Fighting it is futile. Why? Because the waves will find other ways to come to shore. If you try to barricade them they’ll explode over the top, if you try to suppress them they’ll weigh you down ’til you’re drowning. No, the only way is through. By facing up to your shitty, unsettling thoughts, you shine a light on the cracks in your foundation (to quote Kate Nash). You quickly see how not-as-scary they are. The Boogie Man’s not as terrifying in the day as he is at night.
Until now I’ve been avoiding this particular Boogie Man. I’ve not wanted to have the conversation with myself about my height, chiefly because I know it’s something I can’t alter like other aspects of my being I might want to develop. But, from my self-imposed introspection I found that why it’s such a sore point is because, in the past, it’s been the nail in the coffin for some of my budding relationships. This wasn’t me suiting my own hypothesis; I asked my previous potential S.O.s that why, when it started to get serious, I suddenly went from Girlfriend Material to Friend Zone. They all squirmed in their seats and dodged the question, but we both knew it was to do with the emerging power dynamic and how they felt emasculated. They ultimately wanted their future girlfriends to be the hot spinner who could wear heels and not tower over them.
“You need to withdraw from daily distractions and give yourself the emotional room to lay out everything.”
Sure, this was as much to do with their insecurities as it was mine, but nothing like rejection to make you spiral into a criticism vortex, eh?
After all of this I licked my wounds and carried on. I still pined to be shorter and indulged in my self-pity fantasy of how it would be to wear heels and the love stories I could have had were I a few inches shorter. But in this silence I heard a voice I hadn’t heard in a long time: It was mine, and it was saying, “You know what, bitch? Get over it. Get. Over. It.” I’d finally allowed my zero-fucks-given inner child to speak up. Out of extreme isolation I was finally ready to listen to that tenacious 12-year-old and finally found comfort in me.
So what was the secret? What was the big answer to one of life’s trickiest questions? It’s simple: Forgiveness. It’s forgiving yourself for the things you’ve done, the damage you’ve caused, the things you cannot change; forgiving yourself for not being perfect, for not (yet) being satisfied with the body you’re in, and then allowing yourself to revel in its quirks.
Your current lifetime is but one amongst several, and this body you’re presently in is here to teach you lessons you’ve not learnt before — that’s why you’re in it! Yes, you can wallow. You can feel sorry for yourself for an hour or so, but for silly things you have no say in — like your height — there’s no point wasting time tearing yourself apart for an attribute you have no control over. You know what you do have control over, though? Your attitude.
“What’s the secret to one of life’s trickiest questions? Forgiveness.”
You do get to choose how you carry this “flaw,” how you let others treat you because of it. A lot of the time the people we meet are reflections of our inner state. If you feel as though everyone’s out to get you, chances are you’ll project this and, sure enough, will encounter arseholes who want to bring you down.
But if you meet the world with light and love and a heavy dose of sass, you’ll soon self-fulfilling prophecy your way to a life full of wonderful people on a similar wavelength. Sounds hokey, but it’s g-dang true. It’s your choice how you navigate the world — it’s my choice to accept my gangly-ass self — and it’s up to you to heal your self-inflicted wounds.
I know the “right” dude for me isn’t going to give a rats arse how tall I am. I also know that, as this beautiful Vogue.com article by Julia Felsenthal puts it, “DNA is destiny.” Spiritually inclined or not, there is a reason why you are the way you are. Spending time to uncover why this is and accepting it is where you’ll find your self-love.
So go on; get a move on. You’ve got work to do.