It’s been happening for a while now. I’ve been so BUSY I don’t know if I’m coming or going half the time. Maybe it’s the age of the kids, who have tons of extracurricular activities and are too young to drive themselves, or maybe it’s that my husband has been in a show 30 miles from where we live since the end of January, or maybe- just maybe- it’s the fact that I’m so overbooked I can’t see straight.
Whatever the reasons are, my emotions have been raw lately. Stuff bothers me that normally I could shove to the side because I know they don’t matter. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like this, but I am to the point that I feel like I cannot meet everyone else’s expectations of me.
I’m funny, but am I funny enough?
I’m still thinny, but am I thin enough?
I’m nice, but am I nice enough?
The breaking point for me came in a very surprising area.
I wrote a song about Explosion Bus and filmed a video. I made my outfit, tried to make my hair unique, and went all out. My friend Theresa pampered me (like I had a proper assistant on set) (in the middle of my living room) and she made sure I was tucked in here, lifting my chin up there, etc.. For the first time in weeks I FELT BEAUTIFUL instead of exhausted. I felt like the world couldn’t touch me. This was something that I totally enjoyed, it restored my heart, and I saw it as a lovely thing in my head.
Then, I started editing the video.
When I go into editing mode, I hyper-critique. I want every shot to be the best it can be to tell a story. I don’t like there to be an unnecessary second in my videos. (A skill I’ve learned that benefits my videos greatly) And while in hyper-critique editing mode, I started hyper-critiquing myself.
“Wow, Charlie. You haven’t gained THAT much weight back, but you look so flabby.”
“Your arms are so flabby. People will think you are gross.”
“People won’t enjoy watching this video of you because you don’t LOOK like girls in other music videos.”
(Seriously, I was in a mood and totally brutal to myself.)
It is one thing to not meet the expectations of others. But when you don’t meet your own, you need to decide:
Is it me that needs to change? Or is it the level of my expectations?
When a woman is in crisis, she does one thing.
She gets the opinion of a trusted friend.
So I called Steve. Because he is the perfect 3rd party. He’s not inside my head all the time, like I am, and I totally respect his opinion. Plus, he makes me laugh.
We talked about the issues. The bottom line is that I WAS being too hard on myself. I’ve done a lot of work to lose weight, and this 15 pound creep up does NOT MEAN that I have failed. Also, that I probably needed to take a shower.
I took a shower and really thought about my predicament. As a person, I never want to stay the same. Growing and changing are essential events. That doesn’t mean that I am losing my grip on changes I’ve made already, it just means things are a little different. There is nothing wrong with different. My life is in a different place than I was a year and a half ago. I’m busier, I’m taking horror-moans to try and get knocked up, I’m stressed out about getting everyone where they need to be on time and picking them up on time. The fact that I am keeping my head above water right now and still smiling should be enough.
SO WHY WASN’T IT ENOUGH?
Stupid freakin’ superwoman expectations. That’s why it wasn’t enough.
And I knew that drastic measures had to be taken.
The most drastic thing I could think of was reminding myself of how far I’ve really come, regardless of how I felt in that moment.
So I did this.
I pulled up one of the most unflattering pictures of me at my highest photo-documented weight, and I kept it up while I was editing my video. And I forced myself to look at the footage with new eyes.
“The before Charlie would NEVER have made a video like this. She didn’t have any confidence at all. The Charlie of 2009 would have never danced with so much happy awkward swagger, or felt as proud to be wearing an outrageous outfit like that. Sure, the Charlie of 2013 has arms that jiggle a bit, but look at the difference between you both! Your arms are tiny in comparison to where they used to be! Self of today- YOU LOOK GREAT. Now OWN IT.”
All of a sudden, editing the video started to go faster. It started to get bolder. I began putting more of myself in it, instead of relying on the cartoon bits to fill it in. I started allowing myself to interact with the characters in the video, which had been my intention all along until my insecurities got in the way.
In the end, I made something that was new and different for me. And I learned a valuable lesson about forcing myself to live up to unreasonable expectations. I gotta knock that crap off. I am going to disappoint others from time to time. I will not be who others think I should be.
But when it comes to me- I need to be true. I need to be kind. I need to speak loving words over myself. I need to allow myself to change in ways I didn’t expect. But most of all, I need to remember the girl I was, and how proud she is of the girl I am today.
Because she never dreamed she would make a video like this…