Today, Talley is blogging for us and I am SO excited for you to read her story!
It took Talley sixteen years to discover self love. Her story makes me sad and glad all at the same time. It’s sad to me that the world can trick us so harshly into thinking we aren’t good enough and we should hide ourselves away because of it. BUT, it makes me so glad to know that Talley found her way out, and that she now inspires others through her example and her strength.
I chose Talley for this week because I see that strength. I follow her on Instagram and I see daily, weekly, monthly how she grows. She inspires me. She encourages me. She shows me it is possible. Those are the kinds of women I want the world to see and know more of. That’s why I share your stories every week. I want the good and the bad to surface so no one feels the need to hide like Talley did. We all have something beautiful to contribute to this world. So like Talley will tell you, bloom!
Enjoy her story!
“I thought that this made me happy. If I covered it up, the insecurity wasn’t there.”
To Bloom or Remain a Bud
There is a quote I read the other day that made me think about self love:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anias Nin
To me, this is the unexpressed anthem I have been living by on my journey to fitness and self love. If you’re anything like me, you carry fear of judgment and failure around with you. For myself, I’m afraid of wearing bathing suits, crop tops, shorts and even sleeveless tops because my body isn’t perfect. For a long time I had this image in my head that people would look at me and say “You really shouldn’t wear that. Do you think you have the body for that?” It sounds absurd now that I say it out loud (or type it), but nevertheless the fear was so ingrained in me that I would do anything to cover up my flaws.
Around the age of 13 I began to become acutely aware that my body was less than perfect. In gym class, I noticed my legs weren’t thin and elegant like those of my peers. My arms weren’t small, my stomach not flat. The longer I looked, the more flaws I found. Although it could have driven me to learn about cooking healthy meals and how to encourage a lifelong habit of health through exercise and stress relief, instead it just made me feel BAD about myself. It never once occurred to me that other girls were going through the exact same insecurities as me. As I grew up, I learned to avoid situations where I might be expected to bare myself. I live in Texas; we have 100 degree weather for a good chunk of the year. Rather than wear comfortable shorts, I wore jeans because I didn’t want anyone to see my legs. If I had to wear a dress, it was down to my ankles. Swimming became a juggling act of finding how many layers I could wear in the water to cover up my swimsuit. I thought that this made me happy. If I covered it up, the insecurity wasn’t there. As time went on, I just convinced myself that a 30 year old woman doesn’t wear these things anymore, so it didn’t matter.
Coming back to the flower metaphor that I shared with you, I feel like I was a bud my whole life. From my limited memory of biology class, I recall that flowering and growth of any kind requires large amounts of energy for a plant. A plant doesn’t have to branch out. It can spend its life just existing, like a seed lying dormant and waiting for the right conditions. 16 years after this story began, I discovered the Blogilates channel on YouTube. I don’t know what made me choose to click my first video, but I’m honestly thankful to God that I did. I began to hear the positive message of Cassey Ho on a daily basis and the wonderful affirmation of the POP Pilates community. It was like jumping into cold water. You can’t help but be shocked! Before I knew it, I was hooked, and when Cassey posted a Power Girl Challenge in February 2016, I knew I had to start my first Instagram account. My blossoming began.
At first, all of the yoga and pilates moves I saw on Instagram scared me. I was inexperienced to say the least. How could I post something so imperfect when everyone in the challenge looked so graceful and strong? They seemed to have no trouble twisting and lifting themselves into crazy shapes while my body protested every step of the way. Part of me felt that I would somehow be letting down the people in my personal life if I posted my less-than-perfect pictures. But with the support of the community, I did my best and not one person had anything negative to say. On the contrary, people offered encouragement and sympathized with my struggles to let me know I was not alone. I began to grow in confidence and slowly accepted that it was ok not to be perfect. It was ok to let others see me as imperfect.
Months of workouts were starting to pay off and I saw muscle where I had only had fear and insecurity before. But I was not finished yet. When Cassey launched her Popflex line, it offered an opportunity to grow in a whole new way. The clothes were gorgeous, but they were also tight and short! I saw all of my new Instagram friends glowing in Popflex designs and I longed to glow too. But my mind told me that if I wore those shorts and those bras, everyone would SEE my rolls, they would SEE my cellulite and flabby stomach. I resisted the clothes for months, convinced by this inner voice of insecurity that I had been feeding since I was a teenager. The months of exercise HAD begun to change my body, but it was my mindset that held me back. It was my mind that stopped me from blooming. So I purchased my first pair of athletic shorts in years with the encouragement of my Instagram friends and shyly began to incorporate Popflex into my Instagram shots.
This was a HUGE breakthrough for me! I became so JOYFUL taking pictures and trying new poses. I delighted in comparing my progress pics and in offering encouragement to others the way I too had been helped. I was BLOOMING in a way that I never had before. My flaws in the mirror began to lessen physically, and most importantly, mentally. I saw for the first time that the women I looked up to were not perfect either. Every one of them were carrying around insecurities of their own and by admitting it openly, I too could become free. I’m not perfect! I feel like I should shout it out, but with joy now and not with fear and self condemnation. I still have my bad days. Part of me still wants others to get the impression that I have it all together more than I do. But now I know that I’m beautiful in ways that surpass my old fears about my body.
I wore a bikini without a cover up for the first time in 17 years just last week. It wasn’t some magnificent unveiling where everyone marveled at the work I had done. But emotionally it felt like I had dropped an anchor and was swimming free for the first time in years. I was elated and felt (dare I say it?) sexy! As I look back on my journey, I see how much energy I was pouring into hiding myself and staying a little flower bud. I see that that way of living was survival. But it was painful, and it wasn’t growth. It wasn’t blooming.
If you’ve gotten through this novel I’ve just written, it’s okay whatever stage of a flower you are. I have been a similar flower and I don’t blame you for your fears. But I promise that if you’re afraid of blooming and stepping out of your comfort zone; of wearing cute things and trying a class or new pose because everyone you see is perfect: I want you to know that blooming is painful. But it is so much more joyful than remaining a bud.
Thank you for reading!
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