I got mean-girl’d at the grocery store today. While I was taking a look at dry roasted edamame, some chick in yoga pants and a pony tail rolled her eyes and made a comment about me to her friend. I don’t know what the comment was, but it was clearly about me. It’s possible that people say mean or snarky things about me wherever I go and they are just usually better at hiding it from me, but I can’t remember ever being insulted like that in my adult life.
It might have been about my faux ripped jeans that are throw back to the 80s. Maybe it was about my black All Star sneakers that have seen better days. They could have been commenting on my super short spiky hair. Maybe they didn’t like the shade of red in my sweater. I might have had a booger on my face. It was probably because I’m fat.
I’ll admit that when I noticed the derision coming from the pair, I was immediately transported to junior high school gym class, listening to a mean girl talk about how fat and uncoordinated I was behind my back. (We were playing dodge ball and my fat, uncoordinated ass was apparently being used a human shield.) The funny thing, though? A.) I can’t even remember that mean girl’s name, B.) that sinking feeling lasted about 3 seconds before I remembered that I’m fucking awesome, and C.) I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin than right now at this moment in my life.
It obviously stung a little bit or I wouldn’t feel the need to blog about it, but it stung only because it was a reminder that people can suck. It also prompted me to think about why I have high self-esteem, when society seems to think that I shouldn’t. Here are the things that seem to work for me:
- Role models. There are a lot of really amazing women (and men) in my family who taught me to love myself, craziness and all. They skipped in public places. Danced as though no one was watching, even when everyone was. Went to the store in curlers. Encouraged me to be a raving beauty OR a raging lunatic – whatever made me happy.
- Sense of humor. Nothing is more important to self-esteem than being able to laugh at yourself.
- Early and unconditional friendships. When I was in elementary school, I had best friends who stuck with me through high school. (And one bestest friend was more like a sister. And a sister who was like a best friend.) We were silly together. We liked to eat. We were loud. We were always just there. And we still are.
- Lifelong friends. I have made great friends (men and women) throughout my life, including a select few who I know will continue to be there no matter what.
- The internet. It’s crazy how destructive the internet can be for some people, when for me it may have literally saved my life. A small group of online friends got me through some tough years, and it may surprise you how many of them continue to fall into that “lifelong friends” bucket above. Instant message chats, message boards, Livejournal – and now Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr – kept me going when my “real life” was falling apart.
I am so far from perfect – and so far from the person I want to be. I want to be healthier. I wish I was better about returning phone calls. I wish my anxiety made me clean or work out instead of eat or shop. I am a work in progress. Self-esteem isn’t about feeling like you are perfect. It’s about recognizing that you are awesome despite your imperfections. And I am awesome.