Before I get started, I want to make one thing clear…
If you are happy with yourself, if you love yourself, if you want to stay exactly as you are: I am living for this. This is the ultimate goal.
But I have been in the position where I looked at myself in the mirror and I didn’t even recognise myself anymore. I had become someone else.
I needed a change. I needed many changes.
The effects of my past were etched on my life, branded on my skin, disguising who I truly am and who I wanted to be.
I was stuck in my cocoon, and I needed to decide which version of me was going to emerge.
So I decided to reinvent myself; shed the layers of shame and guilt and become the person I knew I could be.
Maybe you’ve felt like this. Maybe you’re looking to reinvent yourself and start afresh.
Well here’s how I did it.
I changed my style
This might seem like a shallow place to start, but the first thing I wanted to do was to be able to look in the mirror and not be repulsed by what I saw. I sorted out my hair, got myself a few new items of clothing (I’m not talking a wardrobe overhaul, just a few bits and bobs that reflected the style I liked), and I started making an effort with my make-up (in a style I liked). I was still awfully overweight (see the next point) but at long last, I started to feel more comfortable in my own body. I wasn’t dressing up for anyone, or wearing make-up to disguise myself – I was appreciating the body I have and adorning it in ways that felt right to me.
I changed my diet
As I mentioned in the last point, I had become horribly overweight, and it was causing me health problems such as back pain, shortness of breath, and I was on the verge of being pre-diabetic. With a lot of support, I managed to change my eating habits and lose a good amount of weight. I’m still technically “overweight”, but even losing that amount helped to relieve my back pain and I’m no longer short of breath from doing everyday tasks. I’m also no longer at risk of being pre-diabetic.
Now I need to be clear with this point: losing weight is a personal choice. I personally did it because I was experiencing some painful and potentially dangerous side-effects of my weight at the time – these are not universal experiences. If you are happy and comfortable with your size, do not feel pressured to change it. Okay, I hope I’ve made that clear!
I picked up some new hobbies – and remembered some old ones
Next, I had a look at how I spent my time. Who was it who said, “We are what we repeatedly do”? I can’t remember. It’s not important. My point is, I realised that my actions were going to form a big part of who I wanted to be, so I sat down and started to mindmap the things I enjoy doing – or new things I wanted to try.
Mindmapping was a useful technique because I could just write everything down as one idea sparked another, without judgment or immediate rejection. In the end, I had a page full of ideas and I could go through and pick out the ones that spoke to me.
After I had chosen a few options, I then started to look for ways I could get involved in them. For example, I dug out my old library card, ready to visit the library for some new reading material. I also spoke to my CPN about any mental health-related groups that she might know about. She gave me lots of information and I selected an arts and crafts for mental health group that looked like a good fit for me.
Trying out new hobbies and picking up old ones that still made me happy was not only fun for me, but it was also a great way of giving me things to talk about with other people, which helped me to establish new friendships – people who actually got to meet the real me and like me for who I really am.
I set some goals
Connected to the previous point about how I spent my time, I started to think about what I wanted to work towards and how I was going to do it.
Turning again to mindmapping, I came up with a whole bunch of ideas, then selected the ones that spoke to me. I made a conscious effort to select goals that meant something to me, not just things I felt obliged or pressured to do.
I also carefully selected a range of short-term and long-term goals. This meant that I had a few things that I could achieve quickly and experience a sense of accomplishment, whilst also looking to the future and steadily working on bigger goals.
Achieving smaller goals improved my confidence and self-esteem. I started to not totally hate who I am, which was a huge step for me – a step towards actually liking myself.
Of course, I will continue to change and grow throughout my life, but this radical reinvention was so beneficial for my self-esteem – for my mental health in general, to be honest. It gave me the opportunity to get rid of what wasn’t serving me anymore and start to flourish and thrive as the person I really am.
If you have found yourself in a similar situation to me, I hope these tips are useful. However, above all, if you make changes or keep things the same, do it because it makes you happy. Do it because it’s what you want to do.
Have you ever thought about reinventing yourself? Maybe you have some advice you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.