Have you ever been to a nude beach?
I have never been, but it's certainly an experience I'd be curious to have some day. Maybe on the French Riviera beside a loved one with a glass of wine... There's one major problem, however.
I don't love my body the way I should most days. I'm old enough now to appreciate the one body I'll ever have in this life and all the things she allows me to do. But it's difficult to shake the insecurities I harbored as a teenager thanks to he societal pressure to be either thing or curvy. It didn't help that I wasn't very girly as a teenager, and that was considered "unusual" for some reason. Looking back, I think I was just tryin not to grow up too fast. It was fruitless, of course; the world made sure I grew up before I needed to (a story for another day).
There was even peer pressure to present yourself a certain way, and we got it indirectly from one another and from the media we consumed. We inevitably—almost unconsciously— developed a metric to measure each other's level of attractiveness, and what followed was an unhealthy habit of comparing ourselves to each other using that metric.
Everyone wants to be thought of as attractive. And only by receiving that external validation will we ever feel truly beautiful and worthy of love.
That's the lie we all accepted at some point in our formative years, and it's an idea that is reinforced everywhere we go: billboards, commercials, social media, film and television. It's a deeply buried seed whose roots are near immovable and whose branches are far-reaching. And for many, it's a tree no lumberjack can ever cut down.
I haven't cut down my tree yet, but I have started trimming its branches. The insecurities are there, but I refuse to let them outgrow me, because insecurities can spread and infect all areas of our lives. We may start to feel insecure about our bodies as well as who we are as people. That affects our relationship with ourselves and with others, and it can lead to self-destructive behaviors and habits. Or worse: it can lead to stagnation.
I haven't found the cure for insecurus demitritus, but I do know this: they never fully go away except in moments when we don't require external validation to love ourselves.
And that is a giant oak of an obstacle for so many of us.
But even a giant oak was once a fragile sapling.