Traveling teaches you many things - how to be independent, how to make decisions, how to budget - but sometimes experiencing new things and cultures can lead to learning more about yourself. This eventually leads you to loving yourself.
Okay, let me back up.
When Alyssa and I were planning our Southeast Asia trip back in May, she suggested that we start a travel Instagram. I had a lot of reservations. At that time, I was graduating with 40 extra pounds ... something that I'm not proud of. I was super active in high school - I played two sports and was super lean. Gaining so much weight in such a little amount of time really negatively affected my self esteem. I could barely go out in public without obsessing about what others though about my weight. I couldn't try on clothes without wiping tears away from my eyes. I couldn't go out in public with a bathing suit on without having a momentary panic attack. Simply, I did not feel like I was good enough to have my picture taken and posted on the internet.
Eventually though, Alyssa wore me down, and I reluctantly agreed to be a part of the "Sisters Who Travel" Instagram.
The first couple of pictures posted, I obsessively checked if people would comment on my weight. It is not a little known fact that the internet is a cruel place. People love to sit behind their computer screens/phone screens that hide their identities, and make comments about others because it makes them feel better about themselves. To be honest with you, there has been a couple of times where I have seen a curvy woman and thought "she has no business wearing that." Terrible, I know.
But the negative comments never came.
At first I was a bit shocked ... "Look at me ... I look as big as a whale, how can all of these people like this picture and not see that?"
Then I was just downright confused - "Do they not see my flappy arms, the rolls on my stomach, or my double chin?"
And by the fourth or fifth picture posted of me, I started to de-thaw. "This might not be so bad."
I started getting comments in real life about how our travels looked fun and how pretty our pictures are. Not about my weight. Comments about the adventures. That's it.
No one gave two craps about the fat rolls.
They only cared about the beautiful Balinese ocean waves behind me, the Singapore skyline, or the sea creatures swimming around me.
Experiencing that roller coaster of emotions made me think about all of the pressure that society puts on women. Think of the ideal woman... Did you think of someone like Kim Kardashian?
Sorry - you need to be super skinny like Heidi Klum.
Okay what about Beyonce? Ew! Beyonces thighs have cellulite on them!
Okay, fine! What about Michelle Obama - her arms are amazing! YUCK! If you are too muscular you will look like a man!
Good lord ... I could go on and on and on and on ... but then this post would never end.
If there is one thing that I have learned from all of this - is that putting your worth in a number like your weight will never truly make you happy. It will only hold you back ... and life is way too short not go out and experience what you want to. Or better yet - start a freaking Instagram!
I have included some of the pictures that are taken in moments of time where I was my happiest.