I am a warrior. A born warrior. Trained from birth to be physically strong and mentally impenetrable, my mentor saw a spark in my eye and she knew that I was destined to… Hang on. That doesn’t sound right. Oh no, I’m a worrier. Sorry. W-O-R-R-I-E-R. One who incessantly worries. So that’s infinitely less cool and comes with a pretty uninspiring story, which is that I born and then I started to worry almost immediately, especially about my body insecurities.
If you’re a worrier like me, people love to tell you that it’s a pointless exercise and that it doesn’t achieve anything. Which is true, but do I let that stop me? No I don’t. However, I really should because worrying is exhausting.
If I won’t take the easy option by taking advice from people who love me, I’m going to delve into my own experiences to prove to myself – and you! – that 99.9% of worries really do pass with little to zero consequences. The proof? A big old list of body insecurities I spent hours and days and weeks worrying about that I couldn’t care less about now even if I tried:
Having short eyelashes
My best friend in school had lovely long eyelashes and I didn’t, so I used to worry about it; thinking that no one would ever fancy me with my poor offering. Now the only time I even think about my eyelashes is when one gets in my eye. (Oh and people did totally fancy me, long eyelashes or not).
Having thick eyebrows
I know that having thick eyebrows is basically the holy grail now but when I was in school 8,000 years ago it was pencil thin or see ya later. All of my friends started plucking theirs before me and I worried that I would be picked to pieces for daring to have eyebrows more than two hairs wide. Fast forward a few years and 1. People would kill for my bountiful brows, and 2. They cross my mind maybe once every six months.
Having arm hair
So, it seems like a lot of my worries were hair-related, which is pretty understandable seeing as the debate around the amount of ‘acceptable’ body hair still rages on despite being literally no one’s business. But I despised the fine, light brown-ish hair on my arms. I would gaze jealously at other people’s smooth forearms and scan magazines to see if anyone else on the planet had arm hair (if they did I wasn’t seeing it). I fixated on it and worried about it all the time, but now my arm hair means literally nothing to me. I don’t love it, I don’t hate it. It’s just a normal thing that plenty of people have.
Being a slow runner
It takes me around five years to run 100 metres and I was always the last to cross the finish line during PE. I am the opposite of Usain Bolt and it made me want to skip every single track session for fear of the embarrassment. Now? Don’t care. I mean, yeah it would be nice to be able to sprint for my train when I spend too long saying goodbye to my cat but I’m definitely not going to be losing any sleep over it.
Being found out to be on my period
What if a boy found out and told another boy?! What if someone saw a tampon in my bag? What if I had to leave the room to change my tampon and people knew why? To answer those in order: So what, so what and so what. I have periods and it’s normal and healthy. I’ve got period pains to complain about; there’s no way I’m keeping this a secret.
Shaving my legs for my boyfriend
Back to body hair again, everybody! It wouldn’t have been unreasonable for my first boyfriend to have assumed I was a mermaid because he never once laid his eyes upon a single leg hair. That’s because I would shave my entire being before I saw him. I would worry about an unplanned encounter in case he found out I had – shock horror – body hair. Luckily, my now boyfriend is well aware that I’m a human being who is partial to growing a nice furry layer from time to time.
I dressed differently to other people, I wasn’t in the popular group, I got good grades, I shirked PE and, to top it all off, I had a lovely combo of depression and anxiety that resulted in big gaps in my school attendance. Instead of giving myself a break, I decided it would be better to worry about what everyone thought of me. Smart! I was convinced that everyone at school thought I was totally, utterly weird. But, you know what? I am a bit weird. And it makes me who I am, so instead of worrying about it I embrace it instead.
I’ll have to stop there because, believe me, I could literally talk for 24 hours straight if I were to go through the entire list. But the point is that despite all of the worry and all of the agony I put myself through, none of it came to anything. My eyebrows didn’t take over my face and swallow me whole. My short eyelashes haven’t seen me shunned from society. My inability to run fast has, at worst, made me miss a couple of buses.
I’m not here to say ‘stop worrying’ because it’s not that easy, and I’m not here to tell you that worrying is stupid or that you’re stupid for worrying. I still worry all the time! But I do it with the knowledge that, just like everything else I used to worry about, most of it will pass and become insignificant.
If worrying is your default setting, that’s fine (I don’t want to give you something else to worry about, after all) but do past me a favour and take something positive from my list. Worries might always be there swirling around in the back of your brain but don’t let them take over. Give yourself the mental space for fun and love and happiness too. Let your friends and family reassure you and believe them when they do. Take it from me, a famous warrior. I mean worrier.
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