Using your struggles to affect positive change
TW: Body Image Issues
I remember taking this picture on a hot July day, in a tiny AirBnB apartment in 2014. It was soon after arriving in Manhattan, traveling on my very own, for the first time in my life.
I love that T-Shirt. It’s linen and lace, stripy and lightweight. I felt good taking this pic. But I don’t think I ever shared it anywhere. Why? Because when I looked at it on my screen all those years ago I saw someone who is bigger than I could accept at the time. I had been exercising so much that it influenced my monthly cycle. I had been on a rigid low calorie diet for over a year. I was the smallest I had ever been in my life. Yet I looked at this picture and saw someone who would never be slim, delicate, slender, worthy. All the things I had been told all my life are desirable. I felt too ashamed to post this picture anywhere. I felt shame that I’m not good enough and never will be. Shame that I had to work ridiculously hard and still wouldn’t make the cut. It was soul crushing. It’s all one big lie of course, but I didn’t see that.
Jump to 2020
Now, 6 years later, I look at it and think how healthy and fit I looked. I was the fittest I’d ever been, had done a half-marathon and some other runs, clothes fit nicely, I got compliments for my looks and I started trusting my path. I was where I needed to be, but I didn’t fully realize that my eating disorder was raging and my skewed body image had crept up on me again. Or that it had never left. It’s deceitful. It can *make* me see something that isn’t there. It made me question everything I saw, which made me susceptible to outside validation. That’s a dangerous situation, even if you’re not working in an industry that is so excruciatingly fixated on outward appearances and weight. I was an actress at the time.
So how come I can now see myself as I really was in this picture?
T i m e o u t
… from all the opinions, all the talk, the rat race, the hamster wheel, the fitting in, the emulating and assimilating. Time out. Distance. Reflection. I have done a lot of thinking (and feeling) and I’ve stepped away from acting – for now. This may not resonate well with some, but it was soul-saving for me. It doesn’t have to be years either. Time out can mean taking your weekends off, nurturing other interests and seeing the bigger picture. It can mean understanding that we’re people first, actors, dancers, creatives, executives second. Even artists are people first. There, I said it!
I still have body image issues and I still have days where I can’t see anything good about myself, but I’m building something worthwhile nevertheless. I’m translating my experience into something that can help others heal. We all have challenges.. We all deal with them the best way we know. And that’s ok.
I coach actors now (and leaders and all kinds of creatives). Unsurprisingly one of my rock solid focus points is empowerment through self-worth and self-care.
I’ve been in dark places in my life. The way I see it is this: I can use what I have learned or I can let it go to waste and stay unhappy – and likely run into similar issues again. Speaking from experience…
The questions I have for you today are:
- What struggles have you been through?
- What helped you?
- How can you use what you have learned to affect positive change?
If only one thing sticks, let it be this:
You’re more than a moving prop or a cog in the machinery.
So. Much. More.
The Cordial Coach
Jasmin Egner is a Whole Person Certified Coach, working with clients from various industries across the globe.
Jasmin is a Co-Founder of Cordial Fox Limited and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.