It’s been over a month since the big head shave. And since then my mind has been pulling some Simone Biles-level mental gymnastics as I grapple with redefining who I am beneath the surface.
Without getting all sappy and cliche, I was never happy with the way I looked. As the saying goes, if it wasn’t one thing, it was another. All my life I hated my teeth, so in college when I could afford it, I got Invisalign. I’ve always hated the bump on my nose brought on by an incident in 3rd-grade gym class when someone said “heads up” and I literally looked up. My face met a basketball that fateful afternoon and I’ve been bitter about that phrase ever since. I mean, seriously, how is “heads up” a good warning to duck??
The list goes on – my boobs are too big for my frame, my butt has cellulite, I have thick thighs, my torso is short, why didn’t I get my dad’s blue eyes, why did I get my dad’s perpetual under-eye bags?
And now I sit here with a scar on my neck, a catheter in my arm, a patchy bald head, thinning eyebrows, and finally – a sense of worth too big for my body to contain. It’s almost as though I had to strip myself of everything to really see who I am. Because even though for almost nine years I’ve had a partner by my side who has praised all the things I’ve always disliked about myself, I couldn’t hear him over the screams of my own insecurity.
And also, because it never really was about the physical aspects. See, we’re supposed to be enlighted and past this whole idea of building our self-worth over our appearance. Math has never been my strong-suit, which is probably why I got it all wrong when I tried to calculate my value by the inches of my hair and waist.
And all this soul searching has brought up some stuff – shoutout to free cancer support groups! You know those memories that make you cringe? Those thoughts that interrupt your day, making you say, “Oh lawd, I hope no one remembers that!” Let’s travel back to the year 2000. Exhibit A: my 8th-grade yearbook. In it, there was a section cataloging what we couldn’t possibly imagine our classmates doing. You know what everyone decided for me? Can you imagine Ana-Sofia not saying sorry? That still stirs me up. BECAUSE I WAS STILL DOING THAT UNTIL RECENTLY. It makes me feel like this imposter who spouts so much about female empowerment but can’t seem to unleash her own fire. Can’t help but apologize for who she is.
Couldn’t. Past tense. I’m learning to love myself. Loving myself for myself, not for likes or whatever else “Black Mirror” has taught me about this weird superficial, technology-driven world we’re living in.
So here’s to not looking back at photos and saying, “damn, I thought I was fat in 2006?!” I’m going to live in the present and appreciate what I’ve got going on right now. I’m going to appreciate my body because I’m walking, I’m breathing, I’m feeling.
This life is fleeting, y’all. Let’s not look back at our Instagram feeds in 2037 and say, “I wish I knew how wonderful I was back then.” Just know that you probably already are.