When I was younger I absolutely loathed the mole you see there on my left temple, equating its size and prominence to that of Mount Rushmore, only instead of a hillside, it was occupying a large portion of real estate just south of my forehead. This is clearly an exaggeration, but as an impressionable little girl I was certain it was all people saw when they looked at me. I remember one day in particular coming home from school crying because kids had made fun it. My mom, who in hindsight I realize was a very good liar, simply kissed it and said, “Honey, moles and freckles are angel kisses and yours is big because they love you more.” That is some solid parental BS right there, but the sentiment was sweet. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to love this particular “angel kiss,” no longer feeling like I have a national monument sitting upon the side of my face. What was once an eyesore that I could not wait to have removed has since become a cherished accessory and one I’m thankful I get to keep. Also, there has been speculation (read: lighthearted teasing) among family and friends that it might be the source of all my brain power, so there’s that.
Learning to love my mole is part of a larger story about learning to love myself. People often assume I’ve always been this confident, self-assured person and while most of the time I am, it’s not always the case and was hardly ever so up until a few years ago—I was just really good at faking it.
Like so many people, I’ve battled my share of insecurities and comparison complexes—the kind where you measure the success of your life against the perceived success of others. It is an especially easy trap to fall into given the social media menagerie of make believe that so often blurs the line between real life and the life we want others to believe that we have. While I am currently active on social media, I no longer let it affect me the way it did four years ago when I made the conscious decision to leave Facebook.
In the span of one year (2011-2012), I lost my job in San Diego, went through a long and heart-wrenching breakup and was completely broke (financially and emotionally). To say that I was down and out could quite possibly be the understatement of the century. Rather than being productive with my newfound free time (you know, because I was jobless, boyfriendless and penniless), I found myself getting sucked into the Facebook vortex of living in the past while at the same time being paralyzed by other people’s present, their projected happiness making me feel like even more of a failure. I didn’t have it in me to pretend that I was fine, nor did I want to turn my page into an emotional soapbox, airing all my grievances for everyone to see. Truthfully, I cared far too much what people might think when they found out I didn’t have it all together (a carefully crafted façade that had taken years to create).
Fast forward to today and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, not because suddenly everything is perfect, but because I stopped trying to make it so. The transformation from self-loathing to self-love has certainly been a process—one that has involved several couch sessions, lots of wine, an embarrassing amount of ugly crying and ultimately the resolution to give a few less fucks about what people might think. In reflecting back on this journey, I realize that unconditionally loving who I am—the good, the bad and the ugly—is inextricably linked with letting go of the constant pursuit of perfection.
Nowadays, I welcome the opportunity to be silly and goofy and perfectly imperfect—something I get to do on a weekly basis when I step onto the TEAMride podium and in front of up to 28 people who are quite literally watching my every move and listening to every word I say. When I make a mistake it’s on display for all to see—a notion that would have terrified me even a few years ago—but rather then feeling defeated and crawling into a cave of self-inflicted criticism (a former habit), I laugh it off and move on. Whether it’s under the spin instructing spotlight or that of Instagram and this blog, I am willingly putting myself out there—quirks and flaws and all—because I believe in what I have to offer. Does it still freak me out, even just a little? Absolutely! But at the end of the day (or rather the end of my life), even if it means looking like a fool from time to time, I want to be able to say, “Wow, I can’t believe I did that!” instead of “Damn, I wish I had done that.”
In the end, I’m still a perfectionist at heart and probably always will be, but in learning to love myself I’ve learned that sometimes just good, not perfect, is good enough.
– S A D Y E E V Y N R E I S H