When I was little, I liked to imagine what my life might someday be like when I was “older.” No two scenarios were the same — in some, I was a fashionista roaming the streets of New York, while in others, I was trotting across the world as a travel writer. But one thing that did remain the same was that I always thought I’d have my life together; I’d have it all figured out. I would reach the pinnacle of perfection and then just ride out the rest of my life, basking in my own greatness.
For far too long, I was fixated on this arbitrary ideal of “perfection.” I wanted the long, cascading, blond hair, the shimmering blue eyes, and the perfectly tanned, perfectly sculpted body. I wanted the gloriously rich husband (possibly a boy band member) and a mansion and designer handbags and a lovely car — things I was certain would make others envious of me, but not necessarily things I really wanted for myself. In most of these visions, in fact, I had no real sense of self. It came entirely from what I hoped others thought of me and how I appeared to the outside world.
These days, I try my damnedest not to care what others think of me (it’s hard). Instead, for my own sake, I want to be strong. I want to be confident. I want to be smart. I want to be great. I want to be funny. I want to leave a trail of glitter in my wake (kidding, sort of). And I don’t just want to take control of my life on my own. I want others to feel like they can take control of their lives, too — especially girls and women who were like me, and felt like they were drowning in expectations brought forth by the world around us.
That’s a big reason why I wanted to start Positively Smitten with Steph. I wanted to offer this alternative narrative for women, to let others know we’re out here, just doing our best, living imperfect lives and trying to be okay with that. I don’t have it all figured out, and I think that’s okay. That’s part of what being “positively smitten” is all about. Here are a few other things I associate with being “positively smitten.”
Being positively smitten is about discovering yourself.
I don’t think it’s possible to live a happy and full life if we don’t quite know who we are yet. We are always growing and changing, so we should always make time to know who we are at each precise moment in our life. Start small (figure out if the color that’s been your “favorite” since you were 5 still is) and get bigger (is this career path something that’s making you feel fulfilled?). There’s no right or wrong answer, but it is is nice to have a strong sense of self. Rediscover you.
Being positively smitten is about embracing imperfection.
Frizzy hair, chicken pox scars, freckles, stretch marks, crooked teeth and all. There is no one person we need to be; there is no person we should aspire to look like. We are just who we are. Embracing your imperfections won’t happen overnight, and it will be a struggle — but at least try to live with your flaws. Work on those you really think need changing (maybe a bad temper) and try to be okay with those that don’t (your hips are fine as they are, love). Try talking to yourself like you would talk to a dear friend. Work at it. The rest will follow.
Being positively smitten is about listening to yourself.
If that means being sad and angry, that’s fine. If that means being happy and bubbly, that’s fine, too. Listening to yourself, in part, requires eschewing the opinions of others. Everyone will have an opinion of how you should or shouldn’t look, what you should or shouldn’t do, dreams you should or shouldn’t chase. That’s all well and good, but you don’t have to listen. It doesn’t matter what your mother or your best friend or your colleagues think you should do; make your own choices and own them, even if they don’t always end up how you’d hoped.
Being positively smitten is about helping others.
You know that being-nice-to-yourself thing? Encourage your friends and your loved ones to foster this same kind of self-adoration. Stop hating on other people (and you’ll be surprised at how this helps you stop hating on yourself). Help them when you can. Offer a kind word. Support other women. Reserve judgment.
Being positively smitten is about standing up for what’s right.
There will be many moments in your life when people do things you don’t like. Most of these moments aren’t worth batting an eye. But for the bigger issues — inequality in the workplace, a friend who’s been wronged, family members who are being taken advantage of — use your voice. Be strong.
Being positively smitten is about loosening the pressure.
You know the positive affirmations that tell you to just live a little, be happy, get inspired? Sometimes that’s not possible. Anger, fear, frustration, depression, sadness — these are all things that are part of healthy lives, too. Aim for a FULL life; not one devoid of anything negative.
Being positively smitten is about a fervor to learn and grow.
I am not the same girl who once felt googly-eyed over the possibility of a multi-million dollar mansion (although, to be clear, I would not turn it down if offered to me). In a few years — even a few months or weeks — I won’t be same person I am at this very moment. Change is crucial, and in order to become better people, we have to be okay with that. We should challenge ourselves, and the things around us, too.
Being positively smitten is about living your life.
One of my favorite definitions of “smitten” is the “(past tense) to strike; defeat or conquer.” Let’s go out there and be strong. Own our choices. Live our lives unapologetically. Exude confidence.
And while I don’t quite have all of the things on this list under my control, they are the things I aspire to grasp in an effort to live the life I deserve. I’m trying to be positively smitten with my life — are you?
Don’t forget to participate in our contest and tell us what being “positively smitten” means to you!