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Look For The Awesomeness Of Others & Learn To Find It Within Yourself (When Self-love Still Feels Hard)

“I’m looking for a world where love will no longer be extraordinary.” – Patch Adams

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Untitled-1hen I used to commute to school, I spent a lot of time waiting for trains at the Munich central station. I always had a book with me, or some other form of distraction, to keep myself entertained.

Sometimes, however, I just sat there and watched the people around me.

Munich central station is a huge place, and it is needless to say that hundreds and hundreds of people frequent it every day. I used to (and still do) love imagining how many ‘coincidences’ had brought us all into each other’s lives in that particular moment, as we stood waiting at the platform.

As I looked at all these people, I started playing a little game with myself. The game had two rules:

  1. I had to find one thing I liked about every person I looked at
  2. Even if there was nothing, I had to look until I could find something

Sometimes what I liked was a handbag, a haircut, a smile, or a certain colour someone was wearing. Other times, I admired the courage someone was demonstrating by dressing radically different, or the openness with which someone responded to my gaze and smiled back at me.

It could be something I loved about their body, their clothes, or the way they behaved in this weird situation; a situation in which hundreds of people were crammed onto one narrow platform, trying not to look at or interact with anyone.

And, even if there was nothing I instantly liked about someone, I accepted the challenge of finding something anyway.

It has been nearly eight years since the first time I started playing this game, and I never thought that it would have such a big impact on me.

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Allowing Myself To Reclaim My Body, My Dreams & My “Muchness” (A Post In 6 Pictures)

 

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In my short life, I have often felt like I didn’t deserve things based on my body type, and the “rules” that seemed to be universally acknowledged by every one around me (and myself).

  • Do not wear a bikini if you are not this or that particular size (and please do not blind us with the paleness of your skin).
  • Your art is worth nothing, until somebody tells you it is. And even then, you will never be as good as the others who are “making it.”
  • You are not allowed to do certain things until somebody comes along and TELLS YOU you are. Modeling is one such thing.

I have a dear friend who stopped wearing skirts, because somebody once said that her legs don’t really look good enough to be displayed.

An fantastically talented artist I know is surprised to find that there are people in the world who love her, even though she considers herself such a  deeply flawed creature.

The famous writer Gail Carson Levine still feels awkward about her singing voice, because her father once said that women couldn’t sing.

Every day, someone feels entitled to tell  someone else what they can or can’t do – based on their own limitations, beliefs and fears.

Here is my personal list of things I did not deserve to do/have/dream of until last year:

I didn’t deserve to

be a writer, have a man who respected me, be a model, express my sexuality, have a sexuality, feel good without makeup, feel good with makeup, wear crop tops, go to the beach in a bikini, have it all, present myself confidently without the “perfect figure”, express what I am good at, stand to my flaws, stand to my talents, be authentic, feel good about being an introvert, be “different”, gracefully accept a compliment, have a man who makes me feel safe, express my feelings, be “out there”, have loads of money, be imperfect, be successful, be happy with my figure, just leave a destructive relationship, do what I love just because it makes me happy, accept where I am right now, embrace imperfection, ask for help, aim for the stars, land in the mud – and many things more.

So many negative words, assumptions and beliefs were steadily burnt into my mind and body. Things I was told. Casual remarks. Universal beliefs and ‘knowledge’. Expectations.

Slowly, slowly wrapping around me and consuming me.

I was eaten away by my fears and doubts, pretending that everything was OK. Accepting that this was what life had to be. Why should I be entitled to anything special; to anything else?

Slowly I stopped doing what I loved, the colour drained from my life – I was mummified alive.

 

 

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While I would love to dump the responsibility for all of this on my environment and faceless instances of society, I will admit to you that the only one who truly believed I didn’t deserve these things – was ME.

I have been my own gatekeeper to authentic happiness for more than two-thirds of my life.

I was the one who crawled after the world’s crumbs, feeling like I didn’t deserve any better. I was the one who constantly sabotaged herself, so that the light of my passion for life wouldn’t shine too bright. I was the one who body-shamed herself, because I could always have eaten better and done more exercises, or just punished myself for not being the ‘ideal’.

There was the constant sound of a whip in my head, lashing at me and demanding that I be more, do more, and be a better person. With every smack of the whip in my head I heard: not good enough, not good enough, not good enough, still not good enough, you will never be good enough…

I completely stripped myself of self-love, self-worth, and self-esteem, and stowed them neatly away in a box, until the day that I would prove myself deserving of them.

 

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If that inner voice of yours is any bit as nasty as mine, you know that this magical moment of “good enough and deserving,” will never EVER come by itself.

You are never thin enough, active enough, happy enough, in love enough, taken care of enough, or fantastic enough for the content of that box to be given back to you.

Underneath my facade – there was nothing left of me. I had gone lost. Scared to laugh in case somebody could think I was happy.Scared of the woman and person I could be. Disappearing in self-hate, shame and neglect. Like a cloud of white smoke – I dissolved into nothingness. 

Until one day something changed. I asked myself:

Why not?

Why was I not deserving of these things? Who was stopping me? Who was holding a gun to my head and demanding that I accept all these negative stories I feed myself every day? Why should the opinion of some other person be worth more than my own? Why would I look to other people first to inform my opinion of myself?

WHY does someone else have the right to an opinion of me that weighs more than my own? WHY can’t I be and do whatever I want? WHY do I have to wait for anyone to ALLOW me?

SELF-LOVE, SELF-WORTH, and SELF-ESTEEM, are my natural birthright. No matter where I am on my personal journey, no matter who I am, how I look like, or what I do – I AM ALLOWED TO HAVE WHATEVER I CAN MAKE POSSIBLE FOR MYSELF!

I am allowed to love myself, have confidence, and go for the cakes, rather than the crumbs of this world. I have the right to believe in myself and take care of myself – no matter what, and no matter what I look like.

 

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However, this is not something that is just handed out freely. Nobody is going to scout you and say: “congratulations, you are now allowed to love yourself. You are allowed to be [insert ambition/dream) and you are also allowed to [insert what you want to do] now!

Most likely, many people will only gladly encourage your emotional and physical deterioration, because that way you are so much more like each other.

They will help wrap those bandages of self-hate, shame and hoplessness tighter, so that we may all suffocate together.

That I am the one who has to decide what I allow myself, and when I feel good about myself, is something so completely self-evident that it took me 22 years to actually  realise it. But,

once I realised that I had the power and the agency to RIP OFF all those horrible bandages of internalised and emotional sewage MYSELF- my world transformed. 

Suddenly, I was deserving of EVERYTHING I desired. I was allowed to invest myself into whatever I wanted with passion. I could be and do whatever I wanted on the condition that I truly dedicated myself to it and made it happen for myself.

I stopped waiting for someone to tell me what I was and wasn’t allowed to do. 

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But the most important realisation for me was: 

I needed to believe that I was deserving of my own love and the love of others, and that I was a person of worth, RIGHT NOW. 

Not after a diet, not after my first sale, that suntan, that outfit, that relationship, that size, that success, that muscle tone, that interview – now. 

I had always been deserving of self-love, self-worth, self-esteem and doing whatever it was I wanted. I just had to get out the rusty key that I had hidden away, open the box, and give myself back all that I had always wanted but never allowd myself to have, or even think of. 

This is a journey that can be overwhelming; that has its great and its crap days. It is an ongoing practice – something I have to allow myself every day.

It cannot happen overnight, but it can begin overnight.

I know that it can be overwhelming. I know that it can be scary. And I will tell you that it is an ongoing practice. It is not something that happens overnight.

However, it can begin overnight…once it is allowed to.

 

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My journey started when I stopped accepting the crumbs I was given, and that I was giving myself. FUCK CRUMBS!

There will only be big, fat, creamy, chocolate cakes for me from now on. 

I invite you to this decadent feast, and I will of course be serving tea.

xox

Cat

Model/Reatouch*: Cat De Pillar/ Photographer: My dear friend Bernd Rößler. *No body, skin or blemish retouch, only the lighting was adjusted, and the writing added.

 

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Empty Notebooks, Perfectionism & Allowing Myself To Start Small

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“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” (Anne Wilson Schaef)

I have a lot of notebooks.

Fresh – beautiful – colourful – notebooks. In fact, I could open a stationary shop with the amount of notebooks, papers and pens I own. What they all have in common, though, is that they are empty. I never want to start writing into them, because nothing I could write or put into them feels special enough. I am forever waiting for “something special” to write into my notebooks.

My notebooks lie untouched in the shelves and are denied their notebook destiny. Similar to the FRIENDS episode where Phoebe mourns all the Christmas trees that will not fulfil their Christmas destiny because they are considered too ugly – just that I find my notebooks too beautiful, and my words and sketches too unworthy of them.

In fact, my whole life feels like a beautiful – but unwritten – notebook. Even though I have gotten much better in filling my life with all the things I love and that inspire me, I have never allowed myself to go “crazy;” to truly follow the eccentric, creative way I so long for and envy in others.

Everything about me is still so very – controlled. By perfectionism and the fear of failure.

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No More Capes! Giving Up The Impulse To Try & Save Everybody

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There is a beautiful and powerful scene in the movie The Incredibles, in which the superhero costume designer, Edna, refuses to create an outfit that includes a cape. In her examples, she mentions how superheroes got snagged on missiles, caught in jet turbines and express elevators, all because they were wearing capes.

You can understand why she is wholeheartedly against capes (also – they are so 15 years ago) and I want to tell you why I am too.

We might believe that there is no chance that we will get caught on a missile, or be sucked into the engines of a plane, and yes, we might be right. However, there are a lot of other things our capes can get us hung up on.

We constantly transform into superheroes in our daily lives; trying to help and fix other people. We invest everything we have; working ourselves to the bone – physically and emotionally – until there is nothing left of us.

Whenever somebody needs us, and even if we just have the feeling that somebody needs our help/advice/support, we grab our capes and hurry to the rescue.

And in the attempt to help, we start strangling ourselves.

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Accepting No As An Answer

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Accepting no as an answer….without a fight?

Wow, have I had a hard time learning and accepting this. Like many of us, I could never truly accept a no from somebody. Similar to the stages of grief, I went through my very own personal stages of unwillingness, whenever I was confronted with a “no.” No just wasn’t something to accept.

To me, a no was always negotiable. If I just tried hard enough, I would be able to turn it into something else. Something more along the lines of what I wanted.

If I couldn’t do something, I’d complain.  The other person didn’t want to go to that restaurant or watch that movie with me? I’d start nagging. The other person didn’t see something the way I did? I’d start discussing and justifying. Whenever I heard a no to something that I felt emotionally invested in, I’d get angry and frustrated…

Of course this was not always the case, but it did happen more often thatn I would like to admit.

Until, of course, I changed my reactions to receiving a no.

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I Will No Longer Apologise For Being A Woman Who Has Her Period (Men Invited To Read)

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Whenever I read about something related to the female cycle, one of the first things I see is an apology: “Sorry guys,” “apologies to the men,” “sorry this is a little disgusting, but-,” “I feel awkward bringing this topic up, but” – and I am SICK OF IT.

I had my first period when I was eleven and I spent the last 13 years tabooing it. The amount of effort I used to invest in keeping my period a secret is ridiculous. It was something not spoken of before men and if it had to be mentioned, it was a “girl’s topic.”

The majority of us women experience our period EVERY MONTH and still many of us feel like we need to keep it a state secret. Nobody is to know that this is something that draws from our energy and that we DO feel it can have an effect on how we feel. That sometimes we wish we had some support or peace, when cramps and/or headaches are crippling us, rather than having to deal with it in secrecy.

We feel it is a sign of our weakness as women.

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