this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on May 28, 2009.
People say that the prettier you are, the more insecure you get.
I don’t really know how true that adage is, but I’m sure it does not apply to me. Yes, I have my insecurities—a lot of them actually, if only I think about them often. For instance, I am insecure about my physical appearance. I am short. I have big arms and big, short legs. I have allergy marks on my back. I have scars as big as 10-centavo coins on my knees and calves. I have split ends. I have manly hands and fingers. I have feet that could be likened to that of a duck’s. I get pimples. I have a scar on my face due to a dog bite. I have a bulging bilbil when I sit. I have a huge, sun-designed navel (oh yes, I have counted the “rays” and there are eight of them). I have bad eyesight (200 on my left eye and 220 on my right with 25 astigmatism). I have short and thin eye lashes. And the list goes on and on.
Jeez! It’s hard to think about the things you have but don’t really like. But frankly, I don’t care much if I don’t possess perfect physical features. I just thought of mentioning them to point out that we ourselves make our feelings of insecurity come alive.
Wanting to be better is normal, and can actually be good. The danger comes when you go out of bounds. That puts you through unnecessary pressure and stress. Which is crazy. You are dying to have better looks, but you don’t see that by ranting too much or even just thinking too much about it, you achieve the exact opposite. To illustrate; you stay up all night looking for the diet or exercise that would help you achieve the body and looks to die for. Yet you don’t realize that you are sacrificing your beautiful eyes just to get that diet plan or exercise program. Okay, you get a nice body, but then you have eye bags that touch your cheeks. I may be exaggerating a bit, but you get what I mean. Some people worry too much about something, little realizing that what they are doing makes their goals so much harder to reach.
I recently enrolled in a gym. (I actually just wanted to enrol in a dance class for summer but my partner persuaded me to go to the gym.) The goal I had in mind was to lose weight, burn off at least 8 percent of the fat in my body and have sexy abs. But only last Tuesday I felt lazy to go to the gym. And today, I thought about my goals.
Self-fulfillment? Ha ha. I realized that my reason for going to the gym isn’t right and that’s why I have no motivation to finish my workout.
Come to think of it, I go to the gym so that I will look sexier. So that I will have smaller legs and arms, nice abs and all. All of that in order to look better in photographs? Gosh. I feel so shallow. I’m not going to the gym just because of that. I’m going to the gym not just to lose weight but also to be fit.
I want to give my workouts a deeper meaning. I want to be fit not because I want to run around the beach in a bikini, but because I want to have enough stamina to climb beautiful, high mountains. I want my muscles to get used to the kind of stress that comes with scuba diving so that I can see the amazing corals under the see. I go to the gym to gain more muscles that help produce heat so that I can be protected from the cold winds when I am on top of the mountain. I go to the gym to increase my strength so that I can do more the next time I visit Gawad Kalinga and carry in my arms my cute nephews and nieces for many long hours. I go to the gym and take dance classes not just to sweat but to be more flexible and graceful so I can deliver a better dance number for my family and friends the next time we have a reunion. I go to the gym to meet more people who can teach me important lessons in life and people whose lives I can probably touch. And the list goes on and on.
Each one of us wants to become better in various aspects of our lives. All of us have our insecurities. All of us want to change for the better. This is why I believe in looking at things from an optimistic point of view. Let us not allow our insecurities to pull us down or make us feel bad about ourselves. Let us look at them as challenges on our journey towards making ourselves better.
The next time you think of, say, improving your abs, don’t look at it as a way of fishing for compliments like others do. Have a better reason for doing so. You can say, for instance, “I wanna have abs so that every time a little kid in the orphanage punches my tummy it won’t hurt much. In fact I can tell him to use it as a punching bag for fun. So we can have bonding moments pa.” Isn’t that more inspiring and uplifting?
Most of us will always have some insecurities, but we can manage them better if we look at them in a positive light. Don’t feel sad because you are short. Be happy instead because you can hold the hand of your kid sister or brother when you are walking. If you cannot change some things, change how you look at those things and you will enjoy life better.