Having The Courage To Be Yourself

I've decided that I'm going to try to write when I feel inspired to do so, and as I've been feeling ill today with a migraine and I've been unable to do anything much apart from rest and sleep, I thought I'd use this moment where I'm feeling slightly better to do something useful with my day.

Intermission 7, 8, & 9. Acrylic on canvas. 16x16" / 40x40cm © Natasha Newton 2016. Available at Blue Tree Gallery in York, UK.

Intermission 7, 8, & 9. Acrylic on canvas. 16x16" / 40x40cm © Natasha Newton 2016. Available at Blue Tree Gallery in York, UK.

This is actually something that's been on my mind for a while and in a way it isn't art-related at all, but judging by the feedback I've received from several of my readers, you seem to appreciate the more personal posts, so I'll occasionally be writing about other subjects that are close to my heart.

Just to start so you know the incident that sparked this off - the other week I bought a bracelet from a company I hadn't heard of before called Dogeared. It's just a simple bracelet made from four strands of black silk with a little gold bead that you can use to adjust the bracelet to the size of your wrist. I love simple jewellery anyway, but I especially loved this as the accompanying description said something along the lines of making a wish as you put the bracelet on, and then every time you look at it you must remember that when you let your true colours shine, amazing things can happen.

Being someone who has struggled with feelings of low self-worth and self-esteem my whole life, and the doubts that come along with that, I thought that the meaning behind this bracelet was a nice concept. And weirdly, it helps! The other day I started to doubt myself in a social situation. It was nothing major, but I felt those uneasy feelings of self-consciousness coming back. I noticed I was wearing the bracelet, and that little reminder to "let my true colours shine" was all I needed to feel just a bit better. I immediately relaxed. It made me realise that sometimes just a little nudge in the right direction can be all we need, and that how we feel about ourselves really does come from within. Of course, it helps if you've had (or have) people in your life that cherish you, value your feelings and opinions, and tell you - or more importantly, show you - that you're worthy of being respected and loved.

I am lucky enough to have that, but still I fight daily with these feelings from within. I'm going to be very honest here and tell you that I wear make up every day. Some days just a little make up, some days more. But I wear it every single day. The reason for this isn't because I'm vain or that I love myself; in fact, it's quite the opposite. I feel so self conscious without make up that the thought of going out without it - or even answering the door without it - fills me with...well, 'fear' might be going a bit far, but something like it. I long to be one of those women who can get up, wash her face, and run out of the door. But something stops me. And that something is the fear that I'm just not good enough. But the only thing that's stopping me from being that woman is me. I'll tell you something else: despite being well past my teenage years and 20s, I still get spots. Over the past few weeks I've had more spots than when I actually was a teenager! This has made me even more self-conscious of my skin, which is crazy really, because I certainly don't judge other people in the way I judge myself. I don't care if someone else has a few spots, whether their skin is a little blotchy or not air-brushed to perfection. In fact, I like it. So why do I always feel this need to be 'perfect'? I'm searching for a perfection that doesn't exist anyway. This worry about my appearance extends to almost every part of my body. I long to feel comfortable in my own skin, and so all of this is a work-in-progress - I'm trying to deal with and get over these feelings. The reason I wanted to talk about it and be honest about it, is because I think that if there's someone else out there feeling like this, at least you'll know you're not alone and I know from personal experience that this fact really helps.

I find other people's quirks and imperfections endearing, and I think I - or we - need to extend this kindness to ourselves. Even people who you may think 'have it all'; a confident personality, good looks, a wonderful job, a loving partner etc., can still feel the way I do. We never know what's going on in someone's mind, so being kind at all times is very important. If you find someone with whom you can be yourself; the real, vulnerable, imperfect you, and yet they still love you - hold onto them and cherish them. And learn to love yourself in the same way they love you.

Being yourself - your true, authentic self - will draw the right people towards you. So fight those negative feelings, remember that even the most unlikely people can feel like this too, and "let your true colours shine". We may never be fully at ease with ourselves, but we can definitely keep trying to have the courage to be ourselves. Because you are worthy of great things and great love - and that really does start with valuing yourself.

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