Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: My Introduction to Confidence.

“Wow, Liz; did you lose your personality too when you lost the weight?”

No. She’s just got the confidence to change old habits.

I remember 311lbs. Liz on days like today. I remember how tired she would be. She envied her coworkers at the bookstore that were able to keep up with the fast pace environment and never looked like they were tired. She accepted that her clothes had to be bought in an online catalog years ago; one where their sizes would go up to 5x, and she wore a comfortable 4x and a fitted 3x. To come and think of it, this summer would’ve kicked her ass due to how hot it got. She couldn’t handle the summer heat well. She might’ve been going through her annual seasonal depression; she would hate the summer so much because she couldn’t enjoy it the way she wanted to.

So here comes 203lbs. Liz; sitting in the park 2 miles away from her home and writing for the blog. This isn’t the first time she’s done this; as a matter of fact, she’s done this more times than she can count. She’s also walked these streets with a Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee in her hand and wireless earbuds with kpop blasting, or some old-school that her closest friend has put her onto. She has energy like a teenager these days; she could have taken on 3 projects for the day and still feel bored enough to go for a walk or to take on another task, like help with the two kittens occupying her room, or go on Instagram Live and prep penpal envelopes with a good friend of hers. My favorite thing she does is work an entire afternoon and still has the energy to travel across boroughs and spend the night in Downtown Brooklyn. She feels good. She feels confidence.

And I know she will not let anyone or anything take that away from her, because it’s the first time in her life that she feels it.

Confidence, in a nutshell, is whatever you make of it. There are people who feel confident in their passions. There are people who feel confident in the clothes they wear. There are people who feel confident with themselves, and that doesn’t mean it can only happen when you begin to look like what society deems as “pretty” or “good looking”.

And my God, if you think I now look “good looking” in society, then think again.

I’m still overweight. I’m still out of shape. I am in no way even close to being “skinny”. I am just a person that lost over 100 pounds after having weight-loss surgery. I don’t think I am better than my friends or family, but who I am better than is the Liz I was before surgery.

Yes, I feel good because I lost all the weight; it’s natural to feel good about those things. I worked hard these last two years prepping for surgery and then learning what my life would be like after it happened. It hasn’t been easy, and I know those around me understand that completely, but please don’t link my confidence as being a negative thing.

March 2020.

Both 311lb Liz and 203lb Liz understand how important self-worth is. The Liz that grew up in this body as an adolescent and teenager both remember the moments where their self-worth was non-existent. They didn’t know how to speak up for themselves or defend themselves when people would mess with them. Adolescent Liz dealt with bullies calling her fat every single day in middle school until someone else had to step in and stop it. Teenager Liz was suicidal because her image was tarnished after letting her heart lead all of her decisions. Even young adult, 20-something year old Liz dealt with not knowing her identity or how to prioritize a mental illness when all she knew how to do was allow others to walk all over her.

Sure, maybe a lot of this stems from the fact that I was always the fat girl or the heaviest in a friend group. Maybe this stems from a place where every boy I had a crush on growing up did not see me in that way because I was the fat girl. Maybe this stems from a place where as I grew up, I learned that some guys will only talk to you because they want “the fat girl experience” and that some friends will only be your friend because they are smaller than you, which makes them think they are prettier or better than you. maybe this stems from a place where society told me at a young age that you were not worthy enough as you are, and without even realizing it, I allowed dozens of people to walk all over me and constantly tell me that I wasn’t ever worth it.

Developing self-worth came with therapy. Identifying what I was feeling and why I was feeling it helped me realize that I always knew I was worth being respected and treated fairly, even if it was hard for me to voice it out. I chose to leave what I had in 2019 because I needed to discover myself outside of being someone else’s girl. I chose to come back when I was ready and when I embraced parts of myself that I was ashamed of years prior. I chose to get this surgery because I knew my potential was much greater than what I was giving myself credit for. I decided to leave my job at the bookstore for a better opportunity because I knew I could grow and challenge myself in another environment. All the decisions I make, whether good or bad, have stemmed from a place where I didn’t regret it in that moment and at some point, I deserved it because I was worth it.

Back to my weight loss; I will not sit here and say that me losing over 100 pounds did not trigger something inside me. Of course I felt amazing seeing my clothing sizes get smaller, and it felt even more amazing when I was now doing so much more physical work and not feeling like I was gonna pass out. This is my hard work, and I am allowed to feel great because of it. But, maybe it took me feeling good on the outside to finally feel good on the inside as well. Maybe my confidence is shown more now that I’m confident in myself physically and mentally. I’ve taken care of my mental health for 4 years now, and I have been working on my physical health for 2. Maybe it also took me growing up, setting boundaries, and prioritizing myself in order to finally feel what confidence is for me.

So, yeah. I did change. I changed the way I saw myself and how other people treated me, and I guess it took some weight loss surgery to finally project that into the universe.

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