In high school, I was voted as “Most Academic”. It wasn’t something I was particularly proud of. Being “Most Academic” was akin to be labeled as nerdy, boring, and lame and who wants that?
I so wanted to be one of the “Popular Girls” in school, sought after and admired by everyone. Or so I thought. Until I started seeing the negative effects and pressures that came with being “popular” in school. You had to be pretty, you had to be skinny, you had to be fair-skinned, you had to wear makeup. I didn’t fit into this category and the more I saw, the more I was put off by it. A lot of these girls in my school were decidedly unhappy beyond the cool persona they projected. Many suffered from eating disorders and made bad decisions to be cool and likeable. I was confused by this world where your looks and outward image was given more importance than how you are on the inside. I didn’t want any part of it and stuck to my close friends in high school, secure in myself as a person but filled with those adolescent doubts and uncertainties of how others beyond my inner circle viewed me. School can be a harsh place for early life lessons.
College opened up a whole new world for me. Here was a place teeming with intellectuals who drew admiration from people and where smarts attracted others just as much as looks. Nobody was really judging me on my exterior self – I wasn’t a boring nerd or geek or a pretty, popular girl. I was just me, Richa, and people for the most part didn’t put labels on me one way or another. It was eye-opening for me. Over the years, beyond college and into adult life, I have come to learn that media and certain people or societies will try to put a certain pressure on how you should look. But ultimately, I have made the biggest strides and the deepest friendships in my life when I had been confident in my own skin and not agonizing over my body image and physical self. Of course, I have my “fat days” where I will spiral into self-criticism mode. “Oh, my tummy looks too jiggly, my arms too flabby, I wish I had a leaner body”. But I remind myself of two things:
- If something is really bothering you, stop whining and do something about it!
- This is probably all in my head and I don’t have the time for self-doubt or insecurity. This isn’t high school anymore!
I’ve learned that indeed it’s about who you are inside as a person that will get you far in life and keep you happy. I am always drawn to people who exude confidence, are interesting people with warm, positive vibes, and a strong sense of self. I’d like to believe that people are drawn to me for the same reasons. So go ahead, be yourself and own it! #IAmMoreThanMyBody
Blurb about me: Richa is a Singapore-based fashionista and content creator behind Urban Mantra, a blog which chronicles her everyday wearable style and reflections on motherhood with two active young boys. Between her blogging pursuits and a full-time job as a pharma executive, Richa likes to take time out to travel and explore unique locales.