Like everyone, I've struggled with liking myself for all my life, beginning as soon as I became self-aware and intensifying during the 'Girls' years of my early twenties, coinciding with good and bad relationships, good and great jobs and good and excellent style choices. But recently I stopped feeling like myself. I have been quiet on here for a good while, I know. When other bloggers I follow do this I assume something's wrong, but if their experience is anything like mine it means that yes, something that connects them to blogging is wrong but another area of their life is right. I haven't felt like writing anything, like posting pictures in a while partly because London mornings at the moment are not particularly appealing photo environments and partly because I just don't want to do that right now.
My earlier post this year (my only other post this year so far) encouraged anyone who read it to do more of what they love, so that's what I've been doing. And one thing that I learned to love again quite recently is how I look. Quite a rare thing to say and hear said, isn't it? The body we cart the better parts of ourself around in provides us with the most challenging of relationships (for men and women) and I just got tired of spending time hating mine. It's exhausting. There are better things to be doing. My preferred things to do include reading the same books over and over again, going for long walks (see first post), talking loudly with friends and scaring bar staff laughing too loudly at filthy jokes, eating pretty much anything I can whenever I feel like it, and going to the gym. Right now I love the gym. You cannot tear me away from it. I go on Sunday mornings when previously I'd have lain in bed until noon. Instead of pressing snooze I press 'increase resistance', 'five more minutes', 'increase level'. More more more.
When the promo shots for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire came out, a shot of Jennifer Lawrence stuck in my mind. She is dressed simply in a dark-coloured jumpsuit, belted at the waist and sleeveless. Her much-poured over, much-debated body looks strong, solid, dependable, the kind of body that can carry you through life. She wears a solid, strong expression to match. In the role of Katniss, her body and her mind convey one message: a force to be reckoned with.
That image has stuck in my mind whenever I train. I go to the gym to release tension, to pass time, to occupy me during bad times and to give me an additional adrenalin hit during good ones. I go with friends and to see the usual faces, and to break up long Sundays that stretch endless and empty. While I'm not writing much, I go to the gym and let my mind run, let it all out. Let the frustration, anger, irritation and fear melt away so for an hour or so I can forget my problems and just get on. Do something simple. Figure something out. I go to the gym to train, test and refine my body as the tool it is - a fantastic, reliable, dependable tool, shell, home. Solid, strong, sturdy. A pretty remarkable thing to have. A fully functioning, living machine built for survival, to be tested and to be respected.
I recently also cut off my hair again - not the jagged punk cherry-red cut of two years ago but a softer, more feminine crop that feels much more who I am. Slowly, again, coming to terms with the person I am, rather than trying to push myself into the moulds that I've made for myself in the past. It's not easy to do this; moulds in certain scenarios exist for a reason. I'm not a perfect person, and while working on the exterior is easy I'm aware that working on the interior is going to take a lot more work. You probably won't see me for a while, but like all the others I'm here. I'm still wearing outrageous things (bought a fantastic bright pink shirt that I can't wait to wear with bright red lipstick on Monday) and painting my nails three times a week and making my housemates laugh with how much of the shoe rack and coatrack I take up. But underneath all that, I'm doing something different with my life right now. I'm on the right track. And I'm going to run with it.