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Feelings, Fears, and First World Problems

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My deepest fears are made of the stuff that people these days consider “first world problems” (a term I’m growing increasingly tired of).

So I’ve judged myself, hard, thinking that I should shut up, be grateful, and focus on helping people with “real problems.”

Today I’m here to tear apart my previous belief system around all of that because it’s not true.

What IS true for every single one of us is that our fears and feelings are valid. I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, if you grew up with trauma and abuse or a with a team of nannies and a private butler.

My new belief system is this: You’re allowed to feel what you feel and fear what you fear. And the common desire we can all rally around is not letting these things run our lives or define us.

I’m about to share a few stories and some of my deepest fears and insecurities with you. You might read them and think, “get some real problems, Liz” and the issue there is the term “real.”

Everything is real.

I’m no longer willing to tolerate this culture of “my body and therefore I, am not good enough” that we live with as women and the judgement and comparison habits that come with it.

I’m not here to teach you how to lose weight or get toned. I’m here to teach you how to fall in love with yourself from the inside out and feel like the beautiful, wise, sensual being you are regardless of what size jeans you wear or whether or not you look perfect in a bikini.

Perfection is relative anyway.

It’s time to get to the truth of what feels good and what really matters to you.

Here we go.

You may or may not know that a lot of what you read on the internet, even on people’s personal websites is not actually written by those people. Don’t freak out, this isn’t to deceive you. Some people don’t have the time or writing isn’t their strength so they hire help. It’s common practice, nothing ugly about it. In fact if you’ve ever read a book by a celebrity, chances are they didn’t write it.

I am not one of these people, so I’ve been writing a lot over the last few weeks as we prepare to release my new website this month (May 2014 in case you’re reading this way later).

As women, at some point or another we’ve all been made to feel not good enough or uncomfortable in our bodies. I was drafting a personal story on this topic and ran it by a friend. She responded that most women probably wouldn’t connect to it. Her reaction really upset me. Not because of the underlying treatment of my pain and fears as invalid, but because she was right.

Here’s the story…

I spent most of my life feeling really annoyed with my body. I felt like it was inconvenient, inappropriate and unsafe so I was always trying to cover it up.

In 2011, I was in the best shape of my life working as a personal trainer at a prestigious private gym in New York City when I was invited to be in a video for a major magazine’s website.

It felt amazing and validating to be recognized for my work, until I arrived on set and realized they weren’t interested in seeing me. They put so much make up on my face you couldn’t see my freckles, poofed up my hair, and worst of all, the make-up artist actually painted contour lines on my stomach to look like I had nicer abs.

Do you know how hard I worked to get my own freaking abs?

It was a completely demoralizing experience. I wanted to cry the entire time.

The message was loud and clear, “Even in the best shape of my life, I’m still not fucking good enough.”

I can see where my friend thought people wouldn’t relate or connect to this story. It wasn’t about my struggle to lose weight, my battle with an eating disorder or how I learned to love myself after being abused. My story was about falling prey to the ideals of big media. An opportunity most people don’t even get in their lives.

Here’s the other relevant story…

I was at a women’s gathering and one of the partner exercises was to share what you hide, so essentially, what you fear and avoid. The way to share was to proclaim you hide in an “I am” statement. So let’s say you hide being messy, you would say, “I am messy.”

My statements were, “I am powerful. I am infinite. I am deep, deep love.”

And my partner thought I was confused with the exercise so she said, “No, what do you hide?” And I said, “That’s it, I stuff those things or try to play them down so I don’t seem like too much, intimidate others or make them feel insecure.” (All feedback I’ve received in the past.)

And her reaction was, “Wow, those are great things,” and I felt that familiar sting of guilt for my “problems.”

This conversation reminded me of something I wrote in a blog a few months back:

“While we’ve taken many strides as a gender and a society, we’re still operating with lots of tacit patriarchal agreements. One of which is the preference for women to be in constant pursuit of self-esteem, but very careful about expressing it once they acquire it.”

The suffering, struggle and pain in my lifetime is mine to navigate and so is yours. Our collective “stuff” is packed with the lessons we need to learn, the things that make us better humans and the strength to do what we dream of doing in the world.

Judgement and comparison have got to go, or we need to get better at handling them. -Click To Tweet

This invisible scale we’ve fabricated as a society that deems certain pain, fears and insecurities more valid or meaningful than others is total fucking bullshit.

So many of us keep things to ourselves because we feel guilty or don’t want to seem ungrateful. I propose that we can be grateful, human, accepting of our whole selves, and do it all with trust, compassion and open-hearts. In other words, I propose that instead we put our energy towards connecting with, seeing and accepting each other, so we can all rise up together.

Who’s with me?


Feelings, Fears, and First World Problems