I’ve always considered myself a fairly confident person. I’ll find someone to talk with in a room full of strangers, I don’t get nervous speaking in front of a crowd and I handle interviews with grace and composure.
But now, as a thirty-five year old woman who is starting to notice more lines appearing on my face, a few more gray hairs along my part and some extra pounds that I can’t laugh off as “winter weight,” I’m noticing that confidence wavering.
After concentrating on very little else other than the health and care of my son in the past three years, it’s no surprise that these changes went unnoticed. I haven’t really looked in the mirror much, gone shopping or applied makeup. But now I’m working a full time job and I want to portray professionalism in my appearance. I know that my strength of character and work ethic are more important than how I appear to others, but I also know that grooming and style are the first impression, and that resonates with people.
In my childhood and through my early twenties, I never worried about my weight. I didn’t have to. I was always playing sports that involved lots of running and was active through college. But once I hit my thirties and gave birth, it was tougher maintaining an ideal weight. My son was born 16 weeks early and I was only five months pregnant when he arrived. It’s pretty tough to blame a one pound baby for being twenty pounds overweight.
Before he got sick, we used to walk around the neighborhood, both dogs in tow. The neighbors would joke that they couldn’t tell who was walking whom as each dog was trying to pull me in a different direction, the stroller was veering off the sidewalk and I was just trying to keep up. It was our favorite part of the day.
When we lost him, walking the neighborhood, passing the parks where we used to swing, seeing the neighbors’ sympathetic expressions, was just impossible. The dogs missed the walks and got a little lazier and a little heavier, as did I.
But slowly, I’m learning to walk again. Some days I walk the new neighborhood around my new office. Some days I walk our neighborhood but try a different route. And some days I find a friend so I don’t have to walk alone.
And yesterday morning as I was getting ready for work – casual Friday – I decided to try a pair of jeans that haven’t fit for about five years. I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea, but I did it anyway.
Not only did I get them on, but they buttoned. Sure, I may have pulled a muscle getting into them, and there may have been a little extra skin above the waistline than I remember, but my thirty-five year old ass was in them.
So I am counting that as today’s small victory to rebuilding a little bit of lost confidence.