Being a middle school teacher, I see a LOT of self-consciousness happening (some of it for good reason, some of it not). Basically, I feel like on most days, I can literally almost smell the awkwardness and hormones and puberty craziness going on (no, really—sometimes the stench in my classroom is enough to make me want to go around with a clothespin pinching my nose). On the bright side, it’s basically a constant reminder to myself of how far I’ve come since my own awkward teenage years.
Just for fun, here are 5 things I’m no longer self-conscious about:
“Red-Face” Syndrome –
This might have been one of the first things I really remember being sensitive about. You see, in my family, if we get the least bit hot (usually due to exercise or to an intense summer-y day or some combination of the two), our faces go an intense shade of bright pink that makes us look like we’re either second-degree sunburned or about to faint from dehydration (when in fact neither is true). I distinctly remember one time when I was playing catcher on my softball team and getting pulled from the game because the coach’s wife or somebody was convinced that I was going to pass out due to the redness of my face. I felt totally humiliated (not to mention a bit frustrated) that I was being made to sit out the rest of the game and drink loads and loads of water when I knew perfectly well that I was fine.
After my Saturday runs outside, I still get the red face, but I have finally gotten to the point where it no longer bothers me (probably because people probably figure that because I’m an adult, I’m old enough to decide if I’m really dehydrated or about to pass out or something like that).
Wearing Sandals (“Gap-Toe” Syndrome) –
Due to a large gap between my big toe and the one next to it, I avoided wearing flip flops for years. I would stare in envy at other girls with their dainty toes that all lined up perfectly next to each other, and I would look down at the mutant gap in mine, horrified that my toes just refused to lie flat.
I was so self-conscious about the gap, in fact, that I actually trained my toe muscles to straighten out while wearing sandals or flip flops so that the gap was much less noticeable (and so the flips flops could actually stay on).
Although I will probably never love the look of my feet, I am WAY beyond foregoing the use of sandals just because of a silly gap between my toes.
Due to some comments from my family when I was younger that I was “pitchy” or “singing off-key,” I was intensely shy about singing alone in front of people for a long time: I was convinced that the second I tried, they–like my well-meaning family members–would immediately zone in on everything I should be doing better.
To my surprise, after singing a duet (which had some solo parts in it) in 9th grade during a concert, I got a pretty positive response from almost everyone, which encouraged me to keep pursuing my dreams of becoming a good singer. While I’ve since accepted the fact that I’ll never have a “showy” singing voice, I am confident now that I can hold my own if asked to sing a solo or as part of a group.
Even after the tanning craze of the late nineties pittered out and everyone became crazy about sunscreen, I still noticed that seemingly everyone in magazines still had perfectly bronzed skin. I knew from many sad experiences trying to “get some sun” (and burning and burning and burning) that I should really just give up on my dreams of being a sun-kissed beauty, but I definitely went through a stint for about 8 – 9 hours of getting into the whole self-tanner thing (and insisting on stupidly continuing on with my idea of getting a “little glow” every summer from time spent outside). Although I tended to get more compliments if I did look a bit tan, I finally gave it up about 4 years ago (with the exception of using a little bronzer on my face).
My pale skin can look a bit vampire-like at times, but the maintenance and/or sun damage to make it otherwise just isn’t worth it to me anymore.
It’s so funny to me that I used to be self-conscious about my overbite (which is really not that noticeable) because I’m always bragging now about how I never had to wear braces as a teen. The one time I went to an orthodontist (to see if I needed braces or not), he commented that unless I was unhappy with my overbite, he couldn’t see any reason for me to get them. The funny thing was, I didn’t even know I HAD an overbite before he pointed it out, but me being 13 or so and unsure of everything, I immediately started scrutinizing my teeth in the mirror, grimacing as I saw that my teeth were far from being lined up perfectly (and wondering if I should just bite the bullet and get the braces).
In the end, the dread of getting braces overcame the disgust over the overbite, and I never ended up doing anything to straighten my teeth.
(Best. Decision. Ever. At least I was able to avoid ONE of the awkward parts about being a teenager!)
However, lest you think that I’m all vampire-skin confidence and solo-singing sensation, I’ll have you know that I AM still a *little* self-conscious about some things. I’m definitely closer to complete self acceptance than I was even a few months ago (when I was in the throes of the “moon face” syndrome of Prednisone), but I’d like to be able to lose my self-consciousness completely when it comes to these things:
– the lingering skin rash left over from my recovering autoimmune disease
– my mom pooch (which doesn’t seem to budge, no matter how many pounds I’ve lost so far (48 out of the 50 pregnancy pounds, thanks for asking!))
– my round face shape (I’ve always been a little self-conscious about this, but it got a lot worse when I was dealing with the side effects of Prednisone that were beyond my control)
What things are you no longer self-conscious about that you once were? And what are you STILL self-conscious about?