I hate how I look. I hate how my life isn’t as glamorous as others Instagram accounts depict.
iPhone alarm chimes and so begins another day. I start searching under my pillows to find my phone to shut off the alarm and begin to check what I missed on social media while I was in deep slumber. My sleep-encrusted eyes are blinded by the bright light of my phone screen – why is this brightness so damn high? After five minutes of playing catch-up, the search for my glasses begins. Yep, under my bed just as I suspected. Fifteen minutes are now wasted – time to get my act together and get ready for work.
Walk into the bathroom and grab my toothbrush. Paste it up and look at myself in the mirror. YIKES! Bedhead does not look cute on me. When Beyoncé sang ‘I Woke Up Like This’ she was not talking about me. I don’t wake up with those seductive sexy waves. I resemble a Troll doll. ‘How do I tame my hair today?’ I ponder to myself, while a familiar inner voice mutters, ‘Nope, that cluster of pimples is not gone yet. HAHAHA jokes on you. It’s only gotten bigger.’ FANTASTIC – acne queen at 23. Proactiv, you have disappointed me. Bring on the cover up.
Glasses off – contacts in. I go to the wardrobe to flip through my extensive fashion options and the inner voice says, ‘Worn that, worn that, worn that, hate wearing that, doesn’t fit, why did you ever buy that, too officey, too soccer mom, too conservative, not urban enough. Gosh Kels, why can’t you be more of a thrifty hipster? Sexy? Provocative in the way you dress? Jeez, Grandma, why did you grab that sweater? Remind me when prayer time starts.’
Shed my pajamas and I am greeted with the sight of my surgical scar on my stomach. The largest flaw on my body. The MAJOR imperfection. And the voice becomes louder, ‘Home girl, you can kiss your bikini days goodbye. People don’t want to see that scar or your beached whale body.’ Put my bra on over my small breasts. (Sad truth: I know 15-year-olds with larger breasts than me. Didn’t get the big breast genes.) Toss on my oversized shirt that camouflages my rolls and gives the illusion that I am a fit-yogi. Find my knee-length jean shorts and belt, take a glance in the mirror, shrug my shoulders and say, “This is as good as it gets!”
Flat iron my hair, finish off the typical look with some Aqua Net hairspray [yes, I am a 75-year-old grandma]. Time to apply my mask of makeup for the day: plain Jane application, nothing too crazy. I look natural. Phew, look at the time, I’ve got to go right now or I’ll be late for another day in buttercream paradise.
This is my morning ritual. Day in and day out for the last twelve years, every morning has been similar. Waking with self-doubt, self-disapproval, self-loathing and self-esteem issues. There is a broken record in my head and it plays over and over again each and every day, bringing me down about my appearance and myself.
In her memoir, Yes Please, Amy Poehler uses her unique comedic voice to share stories about her upbringing in Massachusetts, motherhood, being a woman in a predominately male environment, improv life and road to SNL, body image, divorce, working mothers, and robots ruining the universe and killing us. Through her stories, reader are able to relate and laugh with her while she talks about all she has encountered during her life thus far.
According to Poehler, the voice inside of us that belittles us and becomes a mantra recited over and over again is what’s referred to as The Demon. The Demon is our own voice telling us a multitude of things during our lifetime. Poehler remarks that the voice sounds nothing like us, but a strangled and seductive voice. She writes, “Think Darth Vader mixed with Kathleen Turner.” The voice continuously tells us we are fat, or ugly, or our legs are too big. The voice tells us we are too skinny or wide, too short, undeserving of love. My voice, whom I refer to as “he” because he reminds me of George Constanza, battles constant insecurity, self-loathing, and neurotic tendencies on a day-in-day-out basis.
Here’s what I know I do not have currency in: big full lips, big voluptuous bubble butt, perfected hourglass curves, platinum blonde hair, and the party girl mentality. But I created a list of cultural capital I am drowning in: strawberry blonde hair, muscular calves, strength and humility, sarcasm, ability to make people laugh, my karaoke version of Ignition Remix, DIY diva, and cover letter extraordinaire. I am totally okay with being the plain girl with a personality and killer music taste.
My demon bothered me throughout my youth and stills visits today on a regular basis, but I have learned to live with my demon. Typically he will visit for a few days and I become a stranger to myself and my friends and family. I become mesmerized by the demon voice. I believe and agree with everything that is said to me. My self-worth plummets. He is in the driver’s seat. Anything goes.
He does not control my life, but he does make me feel like I am not worthy of love or success. Ever since grade school when everyone had boyfriends, my voice told me I was not pretty enough for love. [I am using the terms boyfriend and love loosely here.] Why am I not worthy of love? Why am I not pretty enough to have a boyfriend? Once the demon strikes, I will continue to feed him with negative statements about myself. This can only lead me down a dark scary path.
Last winter, my demon and I were best friends – he roomed with me. During the blizzard filled months, my voice fed me persistent pessimistic comments. I agreed with each of the statements. Would he ever leave me alone? Finally the snow began to melt and out went the demon voice. Life was NOT that bad, but it felt like the end of the world.
“I had already made a decision early on that I would be a plain girl with tons of personality, and accepting it made everything a lot easier. If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on it was not going to be my looks. I have spent a lifetime coming to terms with this idea and I would say I am about 15 to 20 percent there…” – Amy Poehler, Yes Please
Life after college has been a search for my currency. I thought I had it all figured out, but I am broken. I am working to rebuild it. I need to reconfigure my goals. I am currently following in the footsteps of my comedic heroines by taking an improv class, hoping to find some guidance in improvisation and laughter. Amy mentions, “Looking silly can be very powerful.” Perhaps this will be my corner stone quality in life. I will get to make a complete fool out myself and people will laugh. For right now, I am going to explore this opportunity and see where it leads. Who knows what could happen in this upcoming year. H.P. Lovecraft said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. ” Fear of the unknown comes with a pal, the demon voice. He will say I can’t do it, I should just quit, or I am not good enough. These are only obstacles to show this annoying bastard that I am capable and worthy of what opportunities life presents to me.
Currently, I am much happier with my life. Through therapy, I was able to learn about the significance of self-love and talked the demon away. I learned that before I could find love in another person, I needed to love myself. I needed to love my scar. I needed to love my rolls. I needed to realize life has a plan for me and I have to stop rushing it and just enjoy being 23. There have been rough moments, but I have become strong enough to push the demon aside and stand up for myself. I kicked him to the curb. Talk about incredibly challenging, but the experience was satisfying overall.
The demon has been silenced. He will be back – he always comes back. For right now I will enjoy the quiet and take pleasure in my life. Like Amy Poehler said, “Decide what your currency is early. Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier.”
Don’t let your demon eat you alive. Shut him up. Show him who is boss.