Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is to laugh.

sometimes we have to laugh at ourselvesSo, here’s my story of choosing to laugh in the face of my own distorted self-image.

This morning, I had planned on leaving about 5 minutes earlier than usual so that I could get to the office in time for this beautiful holiday breakfast, complete with adorable children singing, but it didn’t work out how I wanted. In fact, I left 10 minutes later than I normally do.

It’s not because I woke up late, for I woke up earlier than usual. It’s not because my son was slow in his normal morning routine, for he actually got ready quickly for my benefit.

So why, you ask, did I end up leaving late from my house today? It’s because I got stuck in my shirt and couldn’t get out. Yes. You read that correctly.

You see, my younger sister, who is very petite, likes to give me “hand-me-downs” to wear to work. I didn’t try on this particular shirt when she gave it to me. Instead, I looked at it, decided it would likely fit, and planned to wear it this morning.

With about 20 minutes before my planned departure time, I got dressed. I put on the shirt and a pair of pants. The shirt fit, but I wasn’t a fan of how it fell (ladies, you know how this is).

So, fast-forward 5 minutes. I decided to go with another one. I unbuttoned the shirt, and went to take it off. I tugged at the sleeves, and suddenly… OUCH! They would NOT budge off my arms. The more I pulled, the more those sleeves pinched my triceps. The time kept moving, I was near tears, and finally, I squeezed out of it. It took me 10 minutes to get out of that shirt, another 2 to put a new one on, and 6 to cry about it.

Don’t worry, my son was on time to school. Barely.

I’ve always had a self-conscious issue regarding my arms. People look at me like I’m nuts. I’m a fitness trainer who practices what she preaches, meaning I’ve made it a point to look the part, to walk the talk.

That being said, I haven’t always been this fit, and a part of me sometimes still sees the pudgy, post-pregnant young woman with BIG arms in the mirror. Never mind that my shirts are all a size small (unless they came from my mother, she still buys me mediums, but that’s a whole other story), and my pants are a size 4—today was one of many days throughout the year that I felt like I had HUGE arms, and that’s all I could see.

When I got to the building and told a certain someone about this experience, he looked me in the eyes, and he laughed. And he couldn’t stop laughing. It’s not because he was insensitive to my feelings. It was because of the visual I had given him of literally being stuck in my shirt. So he kept laughing. So I pouted. And then I laughed.

The point of this story is, pretty much every single person we know struggles with something, whether it is physical or mental, that other people MIGHT think they’re crazy for thinking because they don’t see it the same way. Whether it’s something that can be changed, can’t be changed, will be or won’t be changed, we have GOT to have the ability to just laugh at ourselves sometimes. Because sometimes, these things that we don’t like about ourselves, that appear to be ridiculous to everyone but yourself, are actually ridiculous. Period. Even if you can only recognize that for a fleeting moment.

The shirt now happily resides in a furious-looking ball on the floor, where it will serve as a reminder that in order for me to feel better about myself, I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, pushing forward, and not get lazy.

As long as I don’t get carried into full-on dysmorphia (because believe me, I am by no means making light of any actual disorder), all I have to do is keep telling myself that I’m not the giant-armed beast that I sometimes see in the mirror. I’ve come a long way, I won’t let it get the better of me, and most importantly, I am not alone, and everyone who loves me will love me and laugh at me regardless of any perceived imperfections.

Author: Rachel Eisner

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