I’m in a funny place. A place of not being what I used to be. Trying to embrace living in the moment and being who and what I am. And not knowing what that looks like day to day, let alone in a month, year, 5 or 10 years in the future.
Physically, if I’m being totally honest, I’m in a good place: comfortable in my skin and being happy and proud of that. But at the same time trying to figure out how to make it last (or if that’s even what I want to do). I’ve worked real hard to get to where I’m at in so many ways, and yet I’m scared to just sit back and enjoy it.
Here’s a crazy thing: no matter how much work I’ve put in or how far I’ve come, I’m still comparing myself. Looking at old photos versus now. Seeing how I stack up next to my friends (or coworkers, gym goers, or strangers). And still thinking that I’m not the small one.
I take a weird sense of pride in muscles that might be bigger than your average girl, and also enjoy certain areas of my body that are smaller than they used to be. But you know what I’ve realized lately? I’m not meant to be small.
How many of us adopt healthy habits – whether it be eating or exercise – with the end goal of somehow shrinking ourselves? Like taking up less space makes us better people? But lately, through a combination of outside influences (podcasts, social media, articles…) and further consideration, I’ve started turning that question on its head. What if being healthy has nothing to do with size?
What if you succeed at shrinking yourself but are failing in other major areas of your health? What if looking one way on the outside is hiding things that might be going wrong on the inside? What if you achieve what you thought was your ultimate goal but no longer feel like yourself, or had to change so many things in the process of getting there that you realized that it wasn’t worth it after all?
What if I’m not meant to be small?
This is the question I keep coming back to over the last few months. I struggle with the whole idea of “set weight/this is how my body is supposed to be,” which is totally valid in many cases. But also can be used as an excuse for defeat (trust me – I’ve been there).
Then there’s the other side of the coin – I genuinely like how I look. I’m pretty happy about it. I would have no problem if this was the way the I stayed for the rest of my life. But I know that things ebb and flow, seasons change, and maybe where I am now isn’t maintainable for the long term.
… so what do I do about that? If I’m not meant to be small, what am I meant to be?
Let’s take a detour for a minute here. So far, I’ve been using small in the literal, physical sense of the word. But I’ve also realizing lately that my sense of smallness (or lack thereof) goes far beyond the physical.
When I was younger, I believed that I was meant to be small. Not physically, but as a person, in my being. I believed I was content to surround myself with strong people and personalities; happy to ride their coattails and live in their shadows.
I told myself for years that I was “the quiet one” (if you know me now you’re probably enjoying a good laugh as you read this). I sat back and let others steal the show, failing to even realize the extent of the gifts I had to offer.
A few months ago, when I was at my sister’s house and they were trying to put one of my nieces to bed. She came down and asked me to be quiet, as apparently my voice carries upstairs quite easily (and my niece was even asking why I was being so loud!). At that moment, I realized I have had this feedback in one form or another multiple times (not that I’m a loudmouth in particular – I hope) – but I don’t think anyone would describe my voice or personality as “quiet.”
I thought back on it. Once again, determining that I am not meant to be quiet or small. So what am I meant for?
I am meant to be heard. I am meant to take up space. Sometimes that might be more space. Sometimes it might be less. But either way, I will fill every glorious inch of that space, and not hold back who I am because I think I am supposed to shrink either my body or my personality.
It’s taken me while to get to this realization (I’m a slow learner), but I don’t ever think that someone would pick me out of a group photo as “the small one.” But is that really so terrible? Wouldn’t I rather be memorable for my amazing personality and attributes? The funny one? The quirky, out-there one?
It’s a perspective and paradigm shift to realize that smallness and shrinking is not the goal. And while that is in one sense liberating, it is in another way confounding and a little scary. If I’m not chasing the ideal I thought I was for all these years, what am I chasing? Or do I need to be chasing anything at all?
What if instead of chasing something that I don’t have, that I am not; I celebrated who I am? What if I used every last millimetre of space I occupy to be uniquely me, and to love others? To help them see that the amount of space (physical or metaphorical) you occupy on this earth is only one very small measurement. That who you are and what you can do are the things that will truly make a lasting impact (and what you will look back on and be most grateful for and proud of in years to come).
Here’s a secret: It is true that I am happy with my physical appearance and comfortable in my skin. But I think when I’ve been most content over all is when I prioritize what I can do over what I look like. I might not be too far down the rabbit hole (thankfully), but maybe in trying to be small, these things have gotten a little out of balance.
What do you think? Will you join me? Will you stop trying to prioritize being small over everything else (*side note: I totally applaud and encourage weight loss for health goals – but that’s not really what I’m talking about here)? Can we listen to our bodies and what they want (both mentally and physically) instead of making what they look like have the final say?
I don’t know, but I think there might be some of you out there reading right now who aren’t meant to be small either. So, if we need to, let’s listen to ourselves, then unapologetically take on the world with our bigness and boldness. Trust me – there’s enough space.