I first began writing the beginnings of this blog post on various sheets of BARBIE notebook paper. It was a week ago, and I thought what better way to pass the time waiting in lines at Disneyland, than to jot down a few thoughts and feelings that were circulating themselves in my head.
Evoking a sense of mystery as fellow park guests looked eagerly on at my sloppy scribbles, hoping to catch a glimpse of my perplexing content, my thoughts came to life on paper, and I found myself in the beginnings of a story line that simply begged to be told.
The story takes place at a sports bar in Brentwood, California. In the midst of March Madness, the group I was with naturally attracted a few raucous basketball fans who made themselves comfortable at our table.
There was conversation, laughter, and then came the inevitable request to exchange info via Instagram. Forget Facebook, phone numbers, and Snapchat: it’s the Instagram handle people are most interested in nowadays.
Instagram apparently is the legit way to determine who people are and what they’re like. Based on followers, you can garner access into someone’s popularity, social status, attractiveness, and of course see who that person is. And if they don’t have an Instagram? Serial killer!
Never mind the fact that you just spent the last few hours talking to said person face to face. No no, that’s all pushed to the wayside as your Insta name is now typed, searched, and found for others to creep on.
In the middle of this exchange, the one guy with whom we were conversing most with (or “putting up with”, I should clarify), suddenly asked what my phone’s background photo was. Shy, I showed him the photo, which was a photo of me, and he immediately asked if I was a model.
“Noooo. I used to model a little, but not anymore.”
Oh. Well that explains everything then.
“What does that mean?”
Only models would have background photos of themselves on their phones. Because models are selfish and arrogant.
Now his comments shouldn’t be something to take to heart because 1) they’re false and the only thing I’m taking away from their meaning is that it makes for one hell of a topic to write about and 2) this is the same drunk doofus who later thought it prudent to send me…. pictures of a particular appendage of his.
But his comment stayed with me.
See, without really knowing who and what my story was, he assumed I held certain personal traits, such as vanity and selfishness, because I was attractive and happened to have a selfie as my phone’s screensaver.
What he didn’t realize, in his drunken and probably sober state as well, was that I wasn’t arrogant, selfish, or even a model. I was a sensitive young woman who had this photo on her phone as a reminder of the feelings she felt when it was taken. This photo was one of my most cherished pictures, taken after I had finished writing my heart out, leaving me vulnerable, sensitive, and profoundly beautiful in her skin.
That selfie didn’t symbolize a narcissistic woman who loved looking at herself. It represented a brave decision on my part to practice self-love. That my purpose for even being in this Brentwood bar was for my health and happiness, a brave declaration that I was there taking care of me.
I had a rough winter, and after moving back from California, I’ve been thrust into the family business, without a chance to really take care of me and my health.
I went down south this past weekend to take care of that. After months of 40+ hour work weeks and confined days spent indoors avoiding the cold, I decided it was high time I treat myself and get out of town for a change of scenery. And doing so wasn’t egotistical of me, it was an act of self-love, which this world seems to have a tough time separating.
In an effort to get better, I’m making small changes in the name of taking care of me, decisions I believe are more powerful than ones created out of necessity of “should.”
Despite slowly coming to terms with the fact that I am not lost, I still struggle with this expectation of being someone the world assumes I should be.
I should have a successful job in my field I studied in college.
I should have a boyfriend.
I should have it all figured out and displayed primly on my Instagram layout.
I’ll just keep shoulding all over myself if I go through life following the expectation of what I should be.
And what this Brentwood bonehead assumed I should be was an afront to all that I practice and embody. It was never his business to comment on the intimate photo of me, but I thank him for giving me something to write about because it’s something we, as a collective whole, need to distinguish.
Self care isn’t selfish.
Whether self care for you is kissing your reflection in the mirror, hugging your curves at night as you snuggle in for the night, cancelling on that concert that you’re too depleted to attend, or having selfies on phone is not for anyone to pick apart and criticize. There’s this stigma that taking care of one’s emotional, physical, and mental well-being means you’re not thinking of others; when in reality, it gives you the tools to better support other people. See, if we forgo taking care of our needs and wants, we end up stretching ourselves too thinly and we end up cranky, sad, and critical of people who do put priority on their health (case in point to my bar buddy).
In fact, I find it more of a selfish and vain notion to think that we need to caters to others without paying any attention to ourselves.
Being attractive and feeling good about it shouldn’t mean I’m selfish and vain and yet it seems this guy thought the two should go together.
It doesn’t bother me though, for in the end, he’s the one who created the should show of embarrassment.