September is officially underway. With that being said, universities are back in session as classes dive headfirst into their lessons. My university, The University of North Alabama, started back two weeks ago. I have struggled with what to write about.
As summer ends, we all compare what we thought our summers would be like when finals ended in May to what the result was come mid-August. I will still give my thoughts on that. But there is a more pressing topic to write about.
My interpersonal communication class met today. The topic we are currently covering is our own “self-concept.” Do our own personal views of self-concept line up with other’s idea of our self-concept? Simplypsychology.org defines this as “the individual’s belief about himself or herself, including the person’s attributes and who and what the self is.”
My professor talked a lot about how we view ourselves and define ourselves based on the types of relationships we have-are they toxic or positive? How do we see ourselves based on our friendships or comparisons? This hit home with me because it is something I struggle with.
In an earlier post, I opened up about my eating disorder. I have struggled with seeing myself the way my female friends say they see me. It does not matter how many times I hear “you’re beautiful” or “you are not fat. Don’t lose weight.” I don’t believe it.
My self-concept from an internal and personal level is negative. All I see is that I don’t have abs or a flat stomach. I don’t wear a size zero. I look in the mirror and see that I’m fat. I define myself by a number on a scale or by what most media portray female by.
The media are one reason for me developing this self-concept. Females are portrayed as sexual items. They are supposed to look a certain way. They are supposed to be skinny. Victoria’s Secret models come up in television commercials all tall, thin and beautiful. I cannot help but compare myself to that.
Hearing males say things like “you’re so tiny and cute” to me should make me feel good about myself. But instead it makes me pick myself apart. I am supposed to work out every day and skip meals or force myself to puke in order to stay that way. Otherwise, I won’t be the same size and males won’t like me anymore.
This part of your self-concept is a lot of self-image issues. But for me, my self-image plays a large part in what I view or have viewed my self-worth. The truth is this: being healthy is more important than being skinny or weighing 100 pounds. Learning to love the body you have is going to help you see your true self-worth. Having a positive self-concept of is not an easy thing to come by. If you struggle with body image issues or truly have an eating disorder, you believe the lies. Your friends and family may see the public self you put out but don’t understand this private battle you fight with yourself.
Sometimes it takes years to stop believing the lies you open yourself up to. It is not easy to accept and see the person your support system sees in you. Recovery is not easy. I’m not saying that I am even there yet. I definitely do not have the best view of myself. I still read into the lies and brush off what my friends say to me.
Part of me doesn’t want to believe what others say about me. I hear all kinds of great support and feedback from my friends. But learning to see myself that way is hard because it requires work and change. It requires someone being willing to call me out if I put myself down or start to see myself in the way I used to.
My self-concept and self-worth is a work in progress. I believe it is that way for most of us. Recovering from an eating disorder is really hard. There are days when I strategically plan to not eat all day AND work out. I validate eating only if I puked the night before. This still happens. But I am a work in progress. Believing in my self-worth is a work in progress.
Believe me, it is worth it. One day, I will be able to truly say I love myself and am comfortable with myself.