I hate taking up space. When I get nervous, I curl up to take up less of it. When I’m walking down the street, I stand as far to the side as I possibly can to avoid getting in the way of others. I exist in as small a space as I possibly can. Part of my weight issue stems from this, of course – the larger I am, the more literal space I take up, the more I dislike going outside and inflicting myself on the world.
Not unrelated to my dislike of confrontation, or my relegation of myself as “the fat friend“, I have a tendency to see myself In a very particular way – that is to say, as unimportant. Thing is, other than maybe Husband, who is going to see me as important unless I do it first? I, as Kate Winslet says so nicely in “The Holiday”, should be playing the leading lady in my own life – not the best friend. I will always take up physical space in my own world, literal or not, and it’s important for me to not only realize it, but embody it.
Taking up physical space is an inevitability of existence, but I know myself that I tend to visualise everything in physical space. It’s why I’m good at description. I picture not only my literal physical space – the 5’2″ height and the 38″ around – but the physical space of metaphysical properties, including, but not limited to, my talents.
Talent and personality take up space. It’s why we sometimes call people who are dynamic “large” personalities. Even if you’re not taking up square inches on the ground, your name being spoken or your voice being heard takes up space where someone else’s name could be spoken, or someone else’s voice being heard (and interestingly, that was one of my biggest problems in choir – not singing loud enough). I hate taking up space that could be filled by other people, but recently I’ve been trying to change that way of thinking. Taking a leaf out of a friend of mine’s book, what gives other people the right to speak over and above mine? Even giving everyone equal opportunity, my silencing myself, and downplaying my skills and dreams does nothing to enhance the experiences of others.
One of the realizations I made a while back was that I don’t tend to find people attractive unless I like them as people first. If I don’t like myself as a person, I won’t like the way I look, either. I starve myself to take up less physical space, and I quiet myself and stop myself from dreaming to take up less mental space. It’s a bad place to be, but I’m working on getting better. The world is filled with opportunity. No one is going to come along and give me permission to exist, and no one should. I exist – and that’s enough permission for me to not just exist, but to thrive. The world is no better by my silence, and my occasional dislike of myself: it is only lacking in the full potential of one of its inhabitants. It isn’t fair of me to reign in my skills and talk myself down, especially when I know that my skills could not just help myself succeed, but help others.
One of my whimsical, youthful dreams as a young adult was helping other people, and helping others is hard when you can’t even help yourself.