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Ya’ll. I used to be so self-conscious. Zero confidence. My self-esteem was nonexistent.
So freaking self-conscious
I came up with excuses to not have to ride the bus the second week of school every year, even faking being sick to miss whole days if needed. That’s when they did the emergency drills and everyone had to jump off the back of the bus. It meant ALL EYES ON ME when it was my turn to jump and the thought of it gave me anxiety attacks.
I sat out every activity my church youth group did – bowling, skating, volleyball, acting out skits, playing pool. I was too self-conscious to let anyone see me do something badly. And of course, I was going to be bad at it since I never let myself do it to gain experience. I was terrified they would laugh and make fun of me. So I sat on the sidelines.
I sat on the sidelines for most of my life.
I didn’t even dance at m own wedding because I was too self-conscious.
Then I became a mom
I became an instant mom to a nine-year-old girl through foster care adoption in my early thirties. It was important I set a good example for her. I wanted her to be confident, love herself, try new things, and not worry about what anyone else thought. And I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines of her life.
So I went into FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT mode!
She was a little fish and we live in Florida, so much of our time was spent at public pools, splash pads, and the beach. I refused to be too self-conscious to put on a bathing suit and play with my daughter. So I wore the bathing suit. We chased waves, built sandcastles, hunted for shells, swam like mermaids, and ran through fountains.
Then we’d go home and have living room dance parties. I didn’t even dance alone before her. We’d play fashion show, model, or makeover, all of which involved looking in the mirror or being in photos, both things I’d always avoided because I didn’t like the way I looked. But I was committed to changing my patterns.
I started applying it to other areas of my life – advocating for myself more at work, starting a blog, applying to teach at the college even though it meant speaking in front of groups of people, trying things that terrified me, including roller coasters and water slides. Being a good role model for my daughter pushed me out of my comfort zone again and again and again. It was terrifying, but I was committed.
And then I really went outside my comfort zone
I started posting photos in bathing suits – even bikinis – on social media and on my blog. This was SO FAR outside of my comfort zone. What started as “fake it ’til you make it” became “FACE it ’til you make it.” Face the fear and insecurities head-on and do it anyway.
People started telling me I inspired them to buy bathing suits and play with their kids at the pool. Or that they started being in photographs with their loved ones. I LOVED hearing I inspired people to feel better about themselves.
And little by little by FACING my fears and insecurities, I started faking it less and less.
Having the self-worth to make big life changes
Making the conscious daily effort to model self-worth eventually led to me finally having enough of it to leave a marriage I’d been unhappy in pretty much from day one. My daughter was 17 and chose to live with her father full-time for the first several months. I’d literally never lived on my own. I spent my whole life thinking I wasn’t capable of functioning on my own. The transition definitely required me to go into FACE IT mode. It was hard, but I didn’t regret leaving that marriage for a second. I only wished I’d done it sooner.
Going viral in my underwear
By the time my daughter graduated high school, I had done multiple boudoir photoshoots. An article I’d written called, “I Did a Boudoir Shoot at Nearly 300 pounds” – which included photos of me in lingerie – went viral on XO Jane, which sadly is now an extinct website.
Pitching the article to XO Jane was a huge moment. The website was from Jane Pratt, publisher of “Sassy” and “Jane” magazines in the 90s. I was a huge fan. Younger me never would have had the self-confidence to even dream of being published in something she was affiliated with.
The article quickly got millions of views and hundreds of thousands of social media shares. My daughter’s teachers saw it. I was recognized at the grocery store and movie theatre.
I went from being too self-conscious to throw a bowling ball to beaming with pride that basically everyone I knew could see me in my underwear on the Internet. All 290 pounds of me.
I was no longer faking self-confidence while wearing bikinis at the beach or pool. Or when posting the pics on social media.
I’m an empty nester now, which has been a rough transition. I still spend a lot of time at the pool or beach. Almost always in a bikini. It just feels natural to me now.
I did a boudoir shoot on the streets of Atlanta. In winter.
I post photos on social media, even when they aren’t the most flattering because I’ve embraced being real, authentic, and vulnerable. That has definitely become the theme of my writing as well. I share the hard stuff because so many people have told me it helps them feel less alone.
And I keep posting photos in bathing suits, slinky dresses, lingerie, etc. because I love it when people tell me I inspire them.
I’m rarely faking it these days. I fell in love with my body. I’m no longer terrified people are going to laugh at my every move. I’ve taken yoga, dance, and boxing classes, even though I’m much less fit, flexible, and coordinated than most of the class, even though I’m often the largest person in the class. I’ve done things I never would have imagined when I was younger – from singing karaoke to selling all my stuff and moving to a temporary vacation house in another state with no plan beyond three months.
Volunteering to pose nude
And last week, I volunteered to pose nude for a painting.
An ex-boyfriend of a former friend recently slid into my DMS, telling me I look amazing.
Younger me would have been convinced he was playing a cruel joke on me. I never would have believed someone actually found me attractive.
2021 Rach simply said, “Thank you!” while agreeing with him 100% in my head. I do look amazing!
We’ve since exchanged a few other messages back and forth – all very general.
He’s a phenomenal artist. I noticed his paintings of women – which are almost all nudes – on his Instagram feed are all very young and slim.
So I messaged him,
“Hey, if you ever want to paint a more mature, rounder, softer woman I know someone who would model. ;)”
Peep the winky face.
The last exchange we’d had was literally about the weather.
I went from being too self-conscious to participate in my own life to offering to pose for a nude painting.
(And, yes, he was totally into it. So that might actually be happening.)
Fake or Face Your Way to Better Self-Worth
I’ve wanted to do a webinar or course on self-worth for a couple of years, but haven’t managed to put it together yet. (Because life is often messy and complicated.) I’d also love to do confidence coaching. I wasted too much time sitting out my life, thinking I wasn’t “enough” – pretty enough, smart enough, think enough, confident enough, etc. Those were lies. I want to help others to start to fake and face their way to being active participants in their own lives, even if their self-conscious and scared.
Because it is SO WORTH making those terrifying steps. And it really does get easier little by little until you aren’t faking anymore.
I created a self-worth journal. It offers daily prompts and affirmations to help you realize you’re worthy of your wildest dreams. Get it here:
Confidence and self-worth look different for everyone. I’m not saying you have to hang out in a city tunnel in your underwear, offer to take your clothes off for near-strangers, or even wear a bikini. But you can certainly join me if you want, too!
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