For as long as I can remember, I allowed numbers to take full control of my life. The numbers staring back at me on the scale; always too high, or too low. The numbers on my diabetic meter; showing inconsistency & unhealthy habits. The number of dollars in my bank account; was there enough to live the life I wanted? To help my family when needed? The numbers that measured my bust, waist, & hips; constantly fluctuating triggering comments from agents, clients, family, friends, & boyfriends alike. The number of followers on my Instagram; never enough. The number of men I’d allowed full access to my naked body; too little, & I’m a prude who needs to live a little. Too many I’d be called a whore. Numbers; constantly reminding me I wasn’t good enough, that I could always do better. Numbers; holding me hostage. I wish I would’ve learned earlier though that numbers are just that… numbers.
Looking back, it seems so strange to allow such shallow things to hold such a prominent place in my mind. As women, especially young women in this generation, we are conditioned to believe these things. We are taught from such a young age that our worth comes from all of these exterior places. Our worth is contingent upon how many followers we have, how many likes we get, how much we weigh, what our body looks like, & of course how pretty that face is. We are taught as women, if we are not beautiful, we simply aren’t worth as much as those who are. This is the most ass backwards logic I have ever heard & it makes me so upset that this is the reality we have accepted. Now, I’d be a huge liar if I tried to tell you I wasn’t aware of the fact that I am indeed a pretty girl. I would certainly be lying if I tried to tell you I didn’t use the beauty to my advantage, because I do, often. But I can tell you, I’ve finally learned that I am beautiful because I believe I am, in every sense of the word, far beyond the exterior beauty & not because of others telling me so. Not the men at the gas station, or the men with blue checks on Instagram. Not the modeling agencies or casting directors. Not my family or friends. I simply decided for myself. Me. You see if my confidence was based solely on the outside factors, the numbers, then at 20 years old I should’ve been happy. I was a solid 110lbs, I had a 22.5in waist & 34in hips to match. I had a boyfriend who called me beautiful often, & I had only slept with 3 people total. My instagram was growing & the likes matched. Modeling was going well, & my summer job had me making more money than I could’ve imagined. All my numbers looked good so why did I feel like shit all the time? Why was I so incredibly insecure? Why didn’t I feel good about who I was? Why wasn’t I confident in what I brought to the table?… oh yes, because numbers are just that… numbers.
You see it took me a really long time to figure out that all of those numbers that I obsessed over really, in reality, didn’t matter much. Everyone values different things, so while those numbers still matter to me, it’s only to a certain extent now. They don’t take up 90% of my mental capacity, or dictate how I ultimately feel about myself. They do however remain in the back of my head & act more as boundaries. Instead of stepping on the scale multiple times a week, I avoid it until completely necessary. I know where the numbers on my diabetic meter need to be & take active steps to get there. The amount of money in my bank account really doesn’t matter so long as I can take care of myself. My measurements don’t bother me as much as they used to & instead of starving myself, I work hard to maintain the body that I want. Instagram is a fake reality that each of us curate & really doesn’t matter; my follower count & likes don’t determine who I am as a person. And while I still don’t like giving just any man access to my body, sex is simply apart of adulthood & I don’t have to be afraid of it. The numbers, they don’t matter.
What really matters most is how I feel about myself. On the inside. True confidence doesn’t come from all of these outside factors, true confidence comes from yourself. I can tell you from experience that when your confidence is dependent upon the outside factors it will never last. You might hit a peak for a while & feel really, really, good, but when it’s gone, then what? I’ll tell you, you’re right back to where you before. Searching for approval & praise in all the wrong places. When my confidence was dependent on the outside factors I felt good sometimes. But when the outside factors disappeared, as they always do, I didn’t know what to do. It was then, that I had to learn the outside factors, the numbers, didn’t hold the weight that I believed they had. It’s crazy because oftentimes we’ll have conversations with those we trust & value & they’ll tell us these things. For me it was usually my mom or my aunt, but their words hardly mattered because I couldn’t see it myself. I wish I could tell you I just woke up one day & had an epiphany but that wouldn’t be the truth. The truth is it took me a long time, a lot of work, & a lot of uncomfort to see it for myself. I had to spend a lot of time alone figuring out who I really was & what I really valued. I had to figure out what I liked & what I disliked. I had to figure out who I was & have confidence in just that. Before, when all my numbers seemed to be exactly where they were supposed to be I still needed the praise, I still needed the attention & acceptance. Today, I don’t really need any of it, please don’t get me wrong I love all of those things (I’m not going to lie) but the difference is I don’t need them to feel good. I feel good on my own. I can remain myself (the real version), because I worked so very hard to find her & even harder to accept & love her. I can carry myself with both grace & dignity because I deserve too, because that’s who I am regardless of the numbers may try to tell me.
As young women in this generation we are conditioned or manipulated even, into believing that the numbers define us. But they don’t. We define ourselves & we can’t forget that. You’ll find eventually (like I did) that once you are confident in who you are (fully) that you won’t need the outside praise. Instead, you’ll praise yourself & because of this you’ll present yourself SO differently to the world & people will feel it. When they do the praise will absolutely come, & come more often, but this time it won’t be needed. Instead it’ll feel like the icing on the cake because you already know you’re good enough. I know that the numbers seem so important & so crucial when trying to figure out who you want to become but they aren’t. If you must, use the numbers as boundaries like me, but don’t allow them to hold you hostage like I once did. They simply do not define you, you define you.
& always remember that numbers are just that…. numbers.