Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH!
Even though August always feels like the hottest month of the year, many people start thinking about the season transition that occurs next month: Autumn. Back-to-school sales are already up and running, and most people this time of year already enjoyed summer to its full extent… well, maybe.
This summer (thankfully) for me wasn’t like the one I experienced last year. My sister was out of the state for most of it, my partner at the time was apartment hunting, and nine out of the ten times I felt extremely lonely. Although there were a lot of lows this summer, I’ve had a better support system and better distractions this time around. Plus, my weeks got a bit busier, which I was happy for.
Can you believe I’m actually saying that I missed being busy? This is why I feel like getting a doctorate isn’t so far-fetched…
Anyway, I spent a lot of my time this summer hanging out with my sister. Whenever I wasn’t busy with doctor appointments and she wasn’t busy with her gym sessions, we got together to get up out of the house and hit the community pool, in which I haven’t been to since 2008, mind you. A lot of the reason why I never went after that was that it just got way too crowded for me over the years. Also, I never felt comfortable wearing a swimsuit, whether it was in the privacy of my aunt’s house in Staten Island years ago or in a public, community pool.
Once I started noticing that I was heavier than most pre-teen/teenage girls, I began to get more and more insecure about my body during the summer season. I would sweat more than a “normal person”, showing off skin to keep cool made me feel very uncomfortable, and I dreaded going out with anyone other than my family to beaches or pools because I didn’t like the way I would look in a swimsuit. It’s the reason why I never even bought a new swimsuit after my aunt moved out of Staten Island and didn’t get a new pool at her current place in New Jersey. After that, I never went out to public beaches or pools, which really sucked because I really much enjoy being in the water during the summer; I always did and swimsuits never held me back from tanning and having a good time.
After the summer of 2014, I completely stopped going out and wearing swimsuits because of this picture. This picture, I was at a family Fourth of July party in Jersey where they have a pool, and while nobody looked at me differently or judged me in my swimsuit, my sister took this photo of me and I posted it on Facebook. Two days later, my father tells my mother that a family member on his side of the family saw it on Facebook, and told me I was “really heavy and looked very unhealthy”. That shit broke my spirit. It was what I was afraid to hear about myself whenever I was in a swimsuit. It was what I exactly thought of myself in a swimsuit and to hear someone else say the same thing, it pretty much confirmed my insecurities, no matter how irrational and stupid they were at the time.
After that, I tried to become comfortable in a swimsuit whenever I was invited out to a beach or pool or whatever. It ever really worked. I would wear a swimsuit probably once in a blue moon and dreaded seeing the people around me. What if they were staring? What if they were talking about me? What if they were calling me fat?
This summer, I was pretty much forced to get out of the house to go to the community pool with my sister. She had been going for two weeks before I told her that I would start going with her as well. The first time we went, I was extremely nervous. I was nervous that there would be tons of people (and kids) looking at me in a swimsuit, laughing amongst themselves and judging me come in and out of the water. Walking to the ladder felt like miles to me, and getting on the ladder to go inside of the pool left even longer, but once I actually got in the pool with my sister, it felt good. It felt good to be in my element again: swimming, going underwater, just being in the water brought back an immense amount of memories as a kid.
When it was time to get out and dry off a bit, I got nervous again getting on the ladder that always seems to be surrounded by little kids… but anyway, I got out of the ladder and quickly turned around, and nothing. Nobody acknowledged me getting in and out of the water, nobody bothered me or my sister when we were in the water, and nobody looked at me and laughed when I was tanning on a lawn chair. Nobody cared about how I looked like, and if they did, it wasn’t visibily known. I’m no saint, I totally told my sister that this girl had a swimsuit with 75% of her breasts hanging out of it looking crazy, but I never did or made that person feel uncomfortable about herself in that moment. If that’s what she wants to wear, that’s her choice, just how my choice of swimsuit is my choice as well.
Wearing a swimsuit this summer taught me that the whole “summer body” really isn’t shit. A “summer body” isn’t at all what you see at community pools; you see people like me and people who look average swimming and having fun in the hot weather. I learned that yeah, I may not be super confident in a swimsuit, but I shouldn’t let it hold me back doing the one thing I love to do during the summer: go swimming! Finally, I learned that some fears can only be accomplished only if you face them and try to see the reality for what it is. Don’t hold yourself back from having fun; I’m honestly learning how to live life like that each and every day.
And if you’re anything like me, you should too.