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Dear Younger self: you've got it all wrong

Dear Younger self: you've got it all wrong

"Are you going to do it Mom?"

"I think so."

"Are you nervous?"

"Yes, terrifed actually"

"Then why are you going to do it?"

"Because as nervous as I am, I know that if I don't do it I will look back one day in the not too far away future and wish that I did.  I will wonder what I had been thinking when I had said no."

"That's a good reason Mom."

Good enough for me.  Good enough because 13 years ago my husband asked me to be in one of his music videos and I said no, I let another woman take the part.  

I said no because I had just had two babies in a row. I said no because I wasn't back in my pre-baby shape.  I said no because I thought I looked tired.  I said no because I thought someone else would do it better than me.  I said no because I didn't understand that real, unshakeable confidence doesn't come from a number on a scale, a reflection in a mirror, a false approval from strangers.

How many times has someone wanted to take a photo of you and your kids or you and your husband or (gasp!) you alone and you have expertly averted the situation and got yourself out of that photo op? We become pros, us women, at taking the spotlight off ourselves when we don't feel how we think we should look.  

I will be the first one to advocate taking care of your health and you in general - you look good you feel good right? Absolutely!  But the confidence that comes with looking good on the outside when the inside is a complete contradiction is short lived, it's surface level, it's easily shook and it's always fleeting.

As much as we begrudge the aging process because of the physical challenges it presents to us, it brings something we don't have in our 20's, for some of us even our 30's.  

It brings us the gift of experience.  Experience brings knowledge.  Knowledge brings power.  And power is what brings unshakeable confidence.  

The power to internally feel like you can walk into any situation with a "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" attitude.  It's not abrasive, it's not boastful. It's quiet, it's humble, it's an internal peace I spent years looking for.

 

 

At 43, I may have moments when I wish my skin looked younger and my body kept weight off with one trip to the gym like it did when I was 30, like it did the first time I said no to being in a video.  Like it did the time I let someone else take "my" place. 

At 43, I have found an inner confidence that I wish I could go back and shower my younger self with - from the inside out, not the outside in.  

I wish I could tell her not to put so much value in what others say.  Others will talk about you, others will come and go in your life, let them go - the ones worthy of you will stay.

I would tell her that no one is as hard on her as she is on her self.  I would tell her that no one sees the flaws that she does.  I would tell her that her husband doesn't focus on the fact that she hasn't lost all the baby weight, he is too focused on how well she is doing being a new Mother to their children.

Have you ever looked back on a photo and thought, "wow,  I looked good back then?"  Did you really feel that way about yourself at the time though?  Or were you too busy picking apart your appearance?

How about if you looked at that same photo and thought, "wow, look what a great Mom/Wife/Daughter/Friend I was being in this photo"??? 

Do you remember when I posted over Fall break saying I had gone in the ocean with my kids more than I probably ever had?  I had my photo taken with them IN MY SWIMSUIT!  Because at 43, I realize that when they look back on these photos one day, it won't be their Moms body they will picking apart, it will be the memory they will be reminded of.

When we let our insecurities run our lives we miss out on experiences we don't get back.  We miss out on making memories, we miss out on documenting those memories to have to look back on one day. We watch our lives from the sidelines.

When we lead with confidence as Mothers, Wives and Friends we give the people around us security too.  How can we tell our children to reach for the stars when we aren't sure we deserve them ourselves?  

At one point during the video shoot, a guy on the crew (who was from Argentina) gave someone in our group a compliment that she didn't accept (in his opinion ;)  and he said,

"in Argentina, if we ever hear a woman put herself down we immediately have to tell her she is wrong, it's our job to build them up." he followed with,

"it can make it hard to find a woman who thinks you are good enough because they are all so confident" haha.... he wasn't kidding.

His statement reminded me of something I have watched since our daughter was born 8 years ago.

I've always said to my husband, "her expectation for a future man in her life is going to be completely unrealistic, she will never find anyone that treats her as well as you do."

Although I'm pretty sure that may be part of his plan to keep her at home forever,  I think he may be on to something.  At 8 years old she has a confidence that I am often in awe of.  There is nothing she thinks she cannot achieve, no obstacles she cannot overcome and Lord help anyone who tries to bring her down.

I think it's unrealistic to think that at some point in her life her confidence won't take a hit, I can only hope that it will be momentary.

When the day finally came to shoot the video of course I was nervous.  For real though, it lasted about an hour, it lasted until my husband showed up.  And it wasn't just because he told me I looked good (although that was an added bonus).  

The nervousness was extinguished by the confidence, internal confidence I had within me that no one else could take my place, no one else belonged there more than I did.  I knew there was no one else he would rather have there so why not act like it?

The things that give me confidence may not be the same things that do for you.  I may hold value in things that you may not and vice versa.  

What I know today though is that I only listen to the opinions of people I care about - and I mean REALLY care about.  

I do the best I can to take care of myself and exercise so I can be healthy and strong.  For ME, exercise gives me a mental & physical confidence that's hard to explain.  It keeps me feeling in control, stable, powerful.

I try to be the same (no wait...better) woman that my husband married 17 years ago.  Being confident isn't always about doing things for yourself, sometimes it's in knowing what you can do for someone else.

When your husband gives you a compliment, say thank you.  

When your kids have a momentous experience, get in the photo with them.  

When your kids ask you to get in the water, swim.  

And when their Dad asks you to be in his music video, say yes.  

 

 

 


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21 comments


  • What wonderful insights and what a blessing to everyone who reads them. We DO change over the years, but that is a good thing. We should not be the same person we were 17 years ago –
    or 40 years ago! If we are, we have gone terribly wrong somewhere along the way. Bless you for stepping back into your God given journey and life. It is your life: no one else can live it. If you don’t, everyone in your life will miss what you have to give.

    Laures Simmons on

  • Wow, thank you so very much. Your thoughts are right on, women are so very hard on ourselves and each other. I will be in the moment, I will be in the photo, I will be in the memory. Thanks again!

    Pam on

  • Jen, I met you when Johnny was filming his video at the Old Triangle in Sydney! The first thing I noticed about you was not what you were wearing, not how beautiful you were (but you sure are :)) but it was how open and friendly you were to me. I love your blog, especially this one. I am 66 years old and it never really bothered me to or kept me from doing what I wanted to do. You are so right to tell us to “seize the day” and not let ourselves turn down an opportunity because we feel that we don’t look good or feel that we don’t deserve it! As I write this comment after reading your blog, I realize that today is your birthday. I wish you the best of days shared with your wonderful loving husband and children. You are beautiful both inside and out! Take lots of pictures as they are the memories that you will all share in the future. Keep up the wonderful writing as you are indeed changing lives with it!

    Diane Delaney on

  • I just watched the video and read the blog post about saying yes. I am so glad that you said yes because you saying yes made that the most touching videos I have ever seen for one of his songs. Thank you for saying yes. I love your honesty in your blog. To me there is nothing more powerful than honesty. It raises people up to be the best that they can be. I could ramble on for hours on this post because it’s so important to be happy with yourself for who you are at any given moment. Thank you again for everything that you share with us. XOXOX

    Denise Pronk on

  • Such a truthful blog. I enjoyed meeting you on the Katamaran. At 59 I’m now able to enjoy stepping out and doing things out of my comfort zone. Years back I never would have introduce myself to you or, God forbid DANCE TO THE PEACOCK on stage with your husband!!! I almost let myself cringe when my husband showed me the video…then I looked again, and I saw a different picture. I saw a myself having a blast! LIVE AND LET LIVE! We only get one shot at it! xo

    Diane Baltgailis on


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