- Understand that accepting your body is a very long process. No one wakes up one day, looks in the mirror, and suddenly loves their body. There will be days when we feel confident and days we won’t like one aspect of our appearance, or even anything at all. That’s human. The goal is to have the good days outnumber the bad ones as much as possible.
- Accept that people have different body structures. Some are big boned and some are short and some have wide hips or flat chests and that’s more than okay. There are many aspects of our bodies that are totally out of our control. Men and women do not have to aspire for a formulaic body type. Every shape and size is beautiful.
- Aim for health, not for image. Love and accept all bodies, especially yours, but with the aim to be healthy. The reason obesity is a problem is because of health conditions. Work out, exercise, and eat a balanced diet in order to maintain strength, energy, and health, not to lose weight and look skinny.
- Don’t think of terms like “fat” or “overweight” as a negative term or insult. It is an adjective with highly negative connotations and is often used inappropriately. If you were born with a large body, there is very little you can and should do to not be socially considered “fat.” It’s not a bad thing if you are healthy. Similarly, if you are a short person, there is little you can do to avoid being called “short.”
- Surround yourself with positive people and positive energy. They will lift you and your confidence incredibly and give you the energy to overcome the bad days.
- Don’t be afraid to drop the people and things that bring you down. Even if takes a lot of sacrifice and courage, it will be worth it. Take that leap of faith and it will make you feel so much better.
- Spread the positive vibes and love. Don’t judge others; see the beauty in everyone and let them know that they’re beautiful. Support each other.
- Accept that Haters Gonna Hate. There will always be critics. No matter what you do, there will always be people who don’t like it, who don’t like you, who find the negative in everything and bring you down. That’s inevitable and totally out of your control. Don’t let the fear of being judged cripple you.
- Don’t look at the number on the scale. It’s just a number, and muscle weighs more than fat. As I have realized personally, you can work out and gain so much flexibility and endurance, and not even lose a pound. That shouldn’t be the goal.
- Make yourself look and feel beautiful creatively. Accessorize with creative jewelry and flattering clothes. Change your hair colour, get a tattoo, or piercings, or whatever you like.
- Cling to what you love. Doing things you love will bring you energy, confidence, happiness, and passion. This positivity is contagious and will contribute so much to personal growth and development.
- Remember that your body does not hold you back from anything. Don’t be afraid to attend certain events or parties because you feel like your body will be out of place. For example, don’t avoid the gym because a lot of intense people are working out and you feel that you are inferior and will be judged. Just go right ahead and use confidence as your shield.
- Remember your self-worth. You are worth so much more than your body type. Do not settle. If someone truly loves you, they will not say “Oh, this person is thinner and prettier so our relationship is over.” Trust that. Have the confidence to hold out and not settle just because you feel like you have to, or don’t have any better options. Don’t respond to people you aren’t interested in. Don’t feel like you owe anyone anything because of how your body looks. Have the confidence to say no and yes to sex, new opportunities, fashion styles, and everything in life.
Six or seven years ago, I would organize birthday parties for my little brother. Towards the end, after cake and musical chairs, we would all be tired out and I would put on a movie and we would settle down to watch it in silence. They used to sit captivated by the television. But it’s not nearly so easy to entertain children anymore. Whenever I look over at my ten year old brother watching TV now, he is almost always playing a game on his iPod simultaneously.
There is an ever-present and increasing need for stimulation. We can’t even watch a movie if the shots are longer than a few seconds. Gone are the days when people could ride the subway alone without music or an app game. Even if it is mindless entertainment, it is as if we have forgotten how to just pause. I have heard countless justifications for this, namely “I like to stay informed/connected,” or “there’s nothing better to do.” My personal excuse is “this is all work related.” I like to think I’m better at unplugging than most people, but I can be just as guilty of scrolling through Facebook without purpose or checking my phone during class.
I am not against technology. I don’t know what I would do without it and I love the ease of connection that it allows. But I have a few significant problems with what this phenomenon has become.
The first is that I have always put a lot of value into putting all of yourself into whatever you do, to experience everything with all of your heart, soul, and mind. I am very opposed to doing things halfway and going through life staring at a screen means that some things will inevitably be experienced halfway. Think about it: people pay money to see concerts live and yet how many experience it through a lens anyway? Most people think they are good at multi-tasking nowadays (“I’m still aware of everything that happens around me when I’m staring at my screen”; “I can still do my homework and watch TV and text 3 people at once”). But while this may be true to a certain extent, it is logistically impossible to do all these things well. Studies have shown that people who claim to be good at multi-tasking are actually more prone to making mistakes under pressure. They have more difficulties focusing and many things are unconsciously missed, like social cues.
Speaking of social cues, I don’t take kindly to being held second to a social media newsfeed. I understand that some messages need immediate attention (so please ask for a moment instead of pretending to half-heartedly keep up the conversation), but it is insulting to meet up with someone in person and feel as though my company is less interesting and less worthy of attention than a newsfeed. Even when there are lulls in conversation, it’s okay to just pause and let things sink in. Nothing ever sinks in deep anymore because we are all so turned off by the quiet, and instantly reach out for a distraction the moment we feel ourselves looking around aimlessly. Is it really more interesting to pop bubble wrap on your phone than to observe people on the subway?
We have lost the ability to take a breath. Everything is always touch and go. Our world is all about speed and efficiency, which is good as long we also have balance. There is not nearly enough balance. As someone who is always busy and compulsive about being productive and making progress, this is hard for me to accept. But I have found that it crucial to allow my mind to settle down, really take things in, and cease living in a constant storm.
“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand . . .” – Thoreau
Nine days into 2014 and I seem to find daily articles rooting for a break from our phones. One of the central claims that these articles make is how phones take away from our relationships, especially our romantic ones. While I definitely don’t disagree with this, I wouldn’t say that they are necessarily harmful if used wisely. Like everything else, it’s all about the balance.
In grade 12, my anti-technology-extremist-French-teacher said to the class, “Those of you in relationships, please tell me, wouldn’t you rather see each other in person rather than have a practically virtual relationship?”
That’s simply not how it works, or at least not how it’s supposed to work. Face-to-face is not a logistically realistic option for many couples, especially younger ones or those in long-distance relationships. Texting can add another means of connecting in a relationship, in tandem with other mediums and face-to-face interaction, and it doesn’t have to take anything away, as long as:
- Don’t overdo it. Space is crucial in any relationship and just because you are not physically together does not mean that you have space. Although texting is a great way to keep in touch daily, share exciting news immediately, or make plans, always being available takes a bit of the spontaneity and interest out of a relationship. It’s a sure way to make room for boredom. Even in long-distance relationships, it’s important to really take a break sometimes and go do independent things with other people.
- Talk only when there is something to be said. As someone who cannot stand small talk, I will rarely text anyone unless I am interested in the conversation. This stands for my relationship as well. We had been texting (lengthy conversations) daily for about 17 months when the first lull hit in the summer, and we freaked because we had never run out of things to say before. But that’s okay (as long as it’s not all the time; if you never have anything to talk about, that’s a relationship worth reconsidering). Conversation, and texting, doesn’t have to be 24/7. Comfortable silence, at least for me, is much preferable to forced talk. Now there are days we only text to say goodnight and others when we text from morning to evening.
- Important conversations/arguments happen in person. I have been dumped over Facebook the day my.. person.. boarded a plane across the Atlantic ocean. I still wish I had gotten the chance to punch him then, but that’s probably why he made that decision. Even though thoughts can be much better articulated and polished in writing, and there is time to reflect and distance to hide behind over text, in-person is still the best way to communicate for many reasons.
1) Two-thirds of communication is non-verbal. It is so easy to deny, lie, or give off a different (perhaps unintended) impression virtually. Misunderstandings happen so easily this way.
2) Raw emotion. There are no masks and nothing is lost in translation.
3) Immediacy. You can’t run away in person, and that eliminates the nerve-wracking wait for replies and the possibility of being left hanging without an answer.
4) Atmosphere. Physically being present makes a huge difference during crucial times because our emotions are heightened. We may think that our feelings for someone are gone, but just one hug could be enough to pull us back. Seeing the other person, being with them, and physically making up or walking away adds a crucial dimension.
- Don’t grow dependent on it. Don’t freak out if there is no response in an hour. Come to see it as a casual method of communication, not a priority.
- The ease of in-person conversation doesn’t get lost. Texting should never become the preferred medium.
- There is enough balance between other mediums. Seeing each other in person should obviously remain the ideal. For long distance relationships or very busy/difficult times, video calling works too and phoning also still exists.
- Phones can be put aside when it matters. This varies according to each person’s definition of “when it matters” (i.e. dinner, bedtime, etc.) and should be communicated clearly and adhered to.