Taking Up Space

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 Author: Arshina Remtulla 

When I was younger, I had a lot of insecurities when it came to my looks. I was comparing myself to other girls and questioning why boys would prefer them over me. I remember a moment in elementary school when my friends and I were jumping off a snowbank at recess. One of my “best friends” laughed at how my “butt jiggles” when I jumped off and hers didn’t. Although I pretended that comment didn’t affect me, I stopped wearing leggings for years. I believed it was because I didn’t like how they felt, but in hindsight I realized her words hurt me more than I thought.
Looking at myself in the mirror to pick apart the tiniest flaws. That, in retrospect, were only noticeable to me. Feeling as if all eyes were on me, criticizing my every move. And if I didn’t look put together at all times, everyone would see how flawed I am.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to love my body and my features. I may not live up to the stereotypical beauty standard but that’s exactly what I love: I’m unique. I used to look in the mirror to fix myself, now I look in the mirror to admire myself. Most people would say I’m conceited, but I prefer the word confident. I don’t think I’m prettier than anyone, I’m as beautiful as everyone else.
I’ve grown to love my body. Although, I still have insecurities. I don’t have a flat stomach. I have bigger thighs, and my face isn’t symmetrical. The difference is I don’t let those things control my life anymore, and I notice them myself.
My biggest insecurities no longer stem from my looks, but my personality. I don’t think I’m a bad person, but sometimes like I’m “too much” or “take up too much space”. While growing up, a lot of kids, especially boys, would call me “annoying.” I had an outgoing, dramatic and talkative personality. I never thought much of it until I moved schools in grade 11.
I was afraid no one would like me if I was myself; so instead of being the extroverted person I am, I chose to stay silent. I never spoke in class unless necessary. I only hung out with my two best friends and I refused to go out of my way to make friends. Looking back, lot of that stemmed from my anxiety that peaked at that point in my life. But it led me to hyper focus on my flaws and become a people pleaser.
The sad thing is that I didn’t give people the chance to get to know the real me. I was afraid of judgment of others. Had I not let my insecurities control my actions, I could’ve made lifelong friends instead of sitting alone at lunch.
Now that I’m in university, I’ve felt more comfortable expressing my true self rather than hiding it.
Some days, I have thoughts i’m “taking up too much space” and annoying my roommates, but I’ve learned I’m not responsible for other people’s feelings or actions.
I’m allowed to take up space; I’m allowed to voice my opinions and be as dramatic as I want. If other people have an issue with that, that isn’t my problem. I used to put a lot of weight in what others thought of me, and sought validation from people who made me feel lousy. I’ve chosen to cut out those who no longer fuel my energy and surround myself with genuine, supportive friends.
Insecurities are not things we need to “fix”, they are things we need to accept. There will always be someone prettier, smarter, and “better” than you, but that doesn’t make you any less worthy. It took me a long time to realize nobody is perfect, and we all want to feel loved.
Loved and accepted for who we are. The road to self acceptance is a long one, and some days will be better than others, but nothing in life is a linear process. I’m proud of the growth I’ve had, and going forward I’ll continue to take up as much space as I need.
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