I Hate Myself, But In A Good Way
I hate myself sometimes–my face, my body, or even my hair when it won’t go quite exactly how I want it to go.
Since I was 13 years old, my weight has remained fairly constant, but my height has changed by around a foot. In a span of a few years, I went from awkward overweight child to awkward underweight teenager. I’m only now just at a healthy weight for someone of my size, and it only took me seven freaking years!
Since I’ve experienced being both overweight and underweight, I sympathise with the arguments for each. I’m often asked which was worse, which I considered the worst to deal with.
The honest answer? When I was “just right.” That perfect moment of equilibrium, when my height and weight were in perfect harmony? That sucked, ironically enough.
Being either side of the “right” weight meant I had a goal to aim towards, some target I was aiming for that would grant me a sense of accomplishment when I reached it. Because when I was unhappy with how I looked, I was damn well motivated to do something about it.
But when I was just the right weight? Well, that was hemlock for my motivation.
When I was overweight, I was around 5′ 4″ and weighed 10 stone (or 60 kilos, for you non-Brits). This put me on the cusp of being obese. For around six months, every meal I ate consisted of junk food, but no one in my family or circle of friends commented on this. Despite seeing me literally killing my insides with junk food, no one batted an eyelid.
Of course, my family’s silence was more than made up for by the bullies at school. Their insults made me turn to food more. It wasn’t until I tried running at a school sports day that I realised that even though the bullies were Class-A dicks, they had a point: I wasn’t healthy.
I vowed to change my diet and lifestyle. Lucky for me, this change coincided with a massive growth spurt, and the weight loss came naturally as I grew.
However, as I got to over six feet, I became painfully thin and underweight. The same clothes I’d worn whilst overweight were now in my wardrobe, too big for me to actually wear. I took instead to burying myself in baggy long-sleeved tops all year round. Touching or looking at my body quickly became something I wasn’t comfortable with.
Strangely, no one commented directly on my being underweight–not even the bullies. What were once direct insults about my weight that forced me to act were now snide jabs at how I couldn’t lift my arms, which simply made me feel worse. Being a brooding teenager, my self-confidence took a huge hit, of course. It came to the point where I wasn’t comfortable leaving my house without layers of clothing to make me seem bigger. It didn’t work, but that didn’t stop me trying.
It took another long hard look in the mirror to decide that I needed to sort myself out and get my weight to a healthy level.
Ironically, when I did finally reach the literal embodiment of the Goldilocks adventure, I became complacent. Why would I do anything to improve myself? I was already fine. So, I stopped exercising, and my health suffered as a result. I wasn’t being spurned on by my jeans feeling looser or flexing in a mirror when I thought no one was looking. I just stopped, becoming lazy and unmotivated in the process.
So, I had to find a new source of motivation. And that source was a simple shift in attitude, something as simple as always remembering my self-hate.
After almost a decade of being on both sides of the weight spectrum, I realized that focusing on what I hated about myself actually motivated me to do something about it, far more than a vague New Year’s resolution, or a bet with myself after a heavy meal.
Now, going to the gym isn’t about hating that I just ate cake. It’s about hating the fact I’m angry with myself for eating cake. When I work out, it’s not about getting rid of those love handles or totally working on my abs. It’s about wanting to get rid of that niggling feeling in my head that tells me I don’t look great, but at the same time, always needing that nagging feeling to be there.
That’s the part of myself I don’t like now–the part of me that doesn’t like me.
And I have to be honest, it feels great.
But not so great that I stop hating myself.