Friends, I’ve spent more time by and in a pool in the past two months than I have my entire life, which is a pretty big deal in my world, considering I’ve lived the bulk of my life avoiding pools and water at all costs. When invitations would roll in for pool hangs, boat days, or weekend getaways where pool time was inevitable, I immediately found a way to get out of going. “I forgot to pack my suit,” “I don’t feel like getting in today,” “I can only come for a little bit, so I’ll sit by the pool and chat,” were the most common excuses. Frankly, I hated how I looked in a suit and cared far too much about what others might think of what I looked like, that I ultimately missed out on a lot of fun.
featured image via julep
photo from the12ishstyle
I can’t pinpoint the exact shift in perspective, but I do remember the feeling. I was tired. Tired of feeling that something as simple as enjoying the pool felt daunting. Tired of making up a story in my head about what someone might think of me – someone that I didn’t even know. Tired of thinking that I wasn’t worthy of partaking in one of life’s best activities simply because of what I weighed or looked like. And tired of missing out on fun and establishing closer bonds with the people I love. I felt trapped in these thoughts and I was tired of it.
I remember being so upset and down, and would think, “How can I have so much confidence in everything else, and not this?” I found a few people on social media that I could relate to: the12ishstyle, nicolettemason & ashleygraham, While all different individuals, they share a lot of the same ethos and are the best body positive advocates. I immediately channeled their positive vibes and said to myself, “Screw it – life is made to be lived fully every single day. No one cares — at least not the people that matter. Put the damn suit on.”
photo via airbnb
Lesson #1: Wear the damn suit.
Though, as you can guess, I didn’t have a well-fitting go-to suit. I just had one “back-up” suit that sat at the bottom of my miscellaneous drawer waiting to be worn once every other summer, typically with a pair of shorts so I could cover up as much of my body as possible.
Thanks to some really great and size inclusive brands, I ordered close to 15 different suits, and if I’m being honest, truly dreaded the day they all arrived. It had been years since I shopped for a suit and I was so worried that I wouldn’t fit into any. I had just told myself to “Wear the damn suit,” and what happens if nothing fits?
photo from ashley graham
Lesson #2: Don’t assume the worst.
Not only did the majority of the suits fit — I looked great in them. My curvy body — cellulite and all, looked great. I felt beautiful. Nothing had really changed with me physically — I was still wearing the same size of suit that I had in my miscellaneous drawer. What changed was my shift in perspective. I chose to see myself as beautiful in a suit. I chose to see myself as a human being wearing something that doesn’t define a single thing about me. It’s a piece of clothing worn to enjoy a fun activity, nothing more, nothing less. I chose to see myself worthy of a fun time in a pool or on a boat, wearing whatever I want.
photo from ashley graham
Lesson #3: You get to choose how you see yourself.
So I wore the suit. With two swipes of Megababe, a great hat, zero shorts or cover-ups, and tons of SPF, I went down to the pool, hopped right in and stayed there for hours. I had the time of my life. I’m a Pisces – a water sign – we are geared for the water. While I was in pool I noticed a similarly shaped woman on the opposite side sitting on the edge fully clothed. She and I exchanged glances a few times. My gut told me she wanted to get in but wasn’t comfortable. About 10 minutes later she got up and left, then came back down to the pool in a suit and cover-up. Close to 15 minutes later, she finally took the cover-up off and got in. I’ll never know what she was thinking or feeling, but I’d like to think that she saw me get in and it made her feel comfortable.
photo from nicolette mason
Lesson #4: Your actions may have a positive impact on others.
After putting the suit on, I thought about fear and insecurities as a whole, and how often those two can hold us back. Creatively, I’m motivated by fear and driven to do the things that scare me. Give me an unchartered territory with no security blanket, and I will figure it out. But I’m also human and can be doubtful or unsure of things, and at times even shy. I give myself to the patience to understand these feelings, think about them, and my favorite: unpack them in therapy. Then I move on. I thank them for popping up and remind myself that I’ve got this – because I do, and you do, too.
Lesson #5: Let fear help keep you curious, not stop you.
If you get one thing from this piece, my friends, I hope it’s that you realize you are in control of every thought and decision. Please don’t waste your energy on limiting beliefs that prevent you from enjoying life, excelling in your career, or trying something new. I don’t want to live life like that, and I don’t want you to either. The number on the scale, the size of clothing, the amount of cellulite, or whatever you think might be imperfect is in fact beautiful just the way it is in this very moment. You owe it to yourself to enjoy your life right now.
Wear the damn suit.