I absolutely love being a girl. I mean, let's be real, what's not to love? CNN has reported higher female college graduation rates for many years (we're smarty pants), companies like Facebook and Pepsi are seeking out female leaders (we're successful) and, as shown by the 2014 Oscars, we are practically taking over comedy (we're funny too!). We are leaning in, making changes, and thriving in any way we can (basically... we're awesome).
But, why don't we feel this way on an individual basis? Why is it that every girl seems to suffer from low self-esteem at some point during her life? There are many theories floating around, I am especially happy that women are taking a stand. However, my expertise comes from the opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of seeing why things are happening, I listen to what is happening. And I see it every day. After life coaching girls from across the globe, I have found four annoyingly sticky bugs that tend to bite all of us at some point or another. The good news? There are ways to ward them off. Awareness is always the first step -- so here we go.
1. Carnival Mirror Sight
No, your body is not misshaped. In fact, you look good, girl. Own it.
Let me guess, a lot of you just cringed at the thought of "owning" your physical appearance. Let's get this straight: having a healthy body image is NOT the same thing as vanity. In fact, they're not even close. Vanity is superficial. It has no depth, and is incapable of seeing past the skin. On the contrary, body image is all-encompassing. It's an extension of loving ourselves on the inside. Our bodies are transformations of our inner selves into a visual presentation for the world to see. We should absolutely find that beautiful, because it is.
When girls look in the mirror, we naturally zoom in on everything we don't like. We hyper-focus on the negative and blur out the positive, as if we are looking at morphed versions of ourselves. Every time we focus on something negative in the mirror, we must remember there are two truths in every room. Our truth, and reality's truth. Guess which one is nicer? Hint: it ain't us.
And can we please remember that Photoshop doesn't exist in real-time? If you can't erase your cellulite, neither can I, and neither can she. And I hope we don't yearn for a world where computer touch-ups can be applied to daily wear. Instead, let's invite confidence be our Photoshop. It's way more powerful.
2. Chronic Guilt
Pleasing everybody is impossible. We all know that, so why do we keep saying YES when guilt asks us out? It's not even cute.
Yes, occasionally we make that terrible, horrible mistake, and we hurt someone else's feelings. We feel awful, apologize, and feel guilty for a few days. That is normal.
But what about the times when guilt pangs us for weeks? Think about a life choice you made recently. Maybe you chose volleyball over cheerleading, or decided to accept a job and change cities. Whatever it is, I bet you can think of one person in each scenario that could have been "let down."
We have the antagonizing ability to beat ourselves up about any decision we make. It's toxic. Guilt is supposed to be a temporary emotion, just like anger, but we allow it to be permanent. We must let it go. The one thing we ARE guilty of is not being confident in every choice we make. So, whenever guilt calls on that lonely night, let's remember this quote:
"The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them."
3. Invisible Spotlight Syndrome
As girls, we think our imperfections are way more noticeable than reality. We assume everyone else sees us through her version of Carnival Mirror Sight. But, the truth is, we zero in on our mild flaws, and give others a pass on theirs. Others don't notice our annoying blemishes, because they're focusing on their own annoying blemishes. Let's face it! We're all self-consumed. For every time you are obsessing over your frizzy hair, somebody else is fixating on the measly two pounds they gained over the weekend. News flash? Both of you look great.
4. Obsessive Comparison Disorder
Have you ever noticed that us girls check out each other more than we check out guys? No? Ok well just go to a yoga class and let me prove you wrong. Oh. My. Word. We look at each other's EVERYTHING all the time. And we do it just to compare.
Someone else will always be prettier, will always be smarter, and will always maintain her balance for longer. That will never change; there are a lot of talented humans on this planet. We have the power to stop focusing on others and start focusing on ourselves. Once we stop comparing, our mind has room to focus on our own strengths and talents. We can find peace in our abilities, our style, our intelligence, our body, and yes, even your yoga. (By the way, cred to Relevant Magazine for this amazing term.)
Awareness is the first step to warding off these annoying bugs and letting go of these impossible standards. Once we embrace ourselves, there's not much we can't accomplish.