Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Black Nail Polish - A Lesson in Authenticity


"Authenticity is a collection of choices
that we have to make every day.
It’s about the choice to show up and be real.
The choice to be honest.
The choice to let our true selves be seen."


One of the most difficult parts for many of us recovering from an eating disorder is the process of figuring out who are without that eating disorder 'identity.' I have lived most of my life in fear of what others might think if I ever allowed my authentic self to show through. Instead of figuring out my own personal style, where I stand politically, what my interests are, and even what I believe in morally, I have spent years attempting to make choices based on what I think others will consider to be acceptable.

My authentic self has been rejected. When I started this recovery process, I was 24 years old and honestly didn't have a clue who Kelsi Cronkright was without an eating disorder.

Yesterday I decided to make a decision based on what I wanted, not what I thought others would expect me to do. As miniscule, silly, or off the wall as this might sound, by painting my nails black, not only did I step outside of my comfort zone, but also started my week with a surprising extra boost of confidence. 


For those of you who know me personally, it's pretty clear that I am a pink and purple kind of girl. Even by looking at the colors I use on my blog, it's probably obvious I've never been a tomboy. I prefer dresses and lace. I'm a girly-girl to say the least. Stereotypically black nail polish might suggest my style was much more edgy or that I am a hipster who listens to punk rock - neither of which are the least bit true. But for some reason, a small voice (my authentic voice) told me to give it a try.

Before my classes I had an appointment with my academic adviser and if I'm being honest, I was worried about what she might think of me if she noticed my black nail polish. That fear is a perfect example of how hesitant I am to step outside the norm and be myself. Black nails do not agree with the image I typically try to portrait. I was curious to find out what would happen if I stopped trying so hard and listened to my authentic self for a change.

As the appointment with my adviser came to an end, the lady behind the desk, to my complete surprise, looked down at my nails and said she loved the black. I almost fell out of my chair. For the rest of the day I couldn't help but look down at my nails, smile, and feel like a small part of my eating disorder identity had been destroyed forever.

I guess that's what happens when I am true to my authentic self - even if it occasionally involves a little black nail polish.

Progress.

22 comments:

  1. I LOVE this! Good for you, Kelsi!!

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  2. theres something about black nail varnish... its just a little bit daring! i think i need to go get some, take a leap out of my "colour" comfort zone too :p xx

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  3. That is fabulous! I'm struggling with the concept of "self" at 34 and find it very challenging to try to shake off all the "shoulds" that I have absorbed and made mine over the years. It's so often hard for me to even know what I want to do, let alone to actually do it if I do figure it out.

    Congrats on making this small to some, but giant to you (and of course, yours is the opinion that matters on matters of you!), step forward :)

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    1. The concept of self isn't an easy one, is it? I'm starting to think this whole self discovery thing is a lifelong process and I need to learn to be okay with that. Thanks for understanding how giant this is when others might not have. :)

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  4. What I see who you are is still very girly, soft, smart, courageous,(so many more...), and PLUS, a person who is not afraid of being silly. To me, that's huge for a person who has been locked into a proper good girl image. And your smiles go with that very well. Love your smiles and black nails!

    To share my story a little bit, I had never presented myself as a girly girl, because I felt that I was ugly and it would be embarrassing or not worth trying. I was the only one who had never worn a skirt at work that time. I decided to wear it for the first time at work after 5 to 6 years working for the organization. Everybody stopped at my desk or in a hallway, and said, "you are wearing a skirt." It was funny. I could see that they were very uncomfortable, and so did I! Now, in my current company, I am the only one who wears a skirt and it does not bother me anymore :) <3

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    1. You're too sweet, Kyoko. We sound like opposites when it comes to our sense of style. What is it about branching out that is so difficult? Again, I think it's just the fear of unknown, like so many other things in recovery. I love that you can wear a skirt now and be perfectly comfortable. Just goes to show how much CAN change if we want it to! <3

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  5. I think it is good to shake it up, even if you are not sure if it is your true self yet. I always tell myself, you never know until you try

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    1. It is good to shake it up, I agree. I just don't always have the courage to do so, but there's no better time than the present.

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  6. ohmygoodness I'm going through the EXACT same thing!!

    My recent change in hair colour, a closet full of bright colours, new piercings, wearing make-up again and darker than before. Most people see this as a lot of change at once, for you the change to black might be extreme. They might think that we're having an identity crisis. But actually, it's the exact opposite -- we're finally in tune with that identity and are no longer afraid of expressings ourselves for who we truly are.

    Here's to never silencing our inner awesome for fear of what others might think ever again.
    Let's be ourselves. Truly. Forever. xo

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    1. That made me smile, Chels. Where did we ever get the idea that we weren't allowed to express ourselves? "Here's to never silencing our inner awesome for fear of what others might think ever again. Let's be ourselves. Truly. Forever." I think that should be my new motto. <3

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  7. Love this, Kelsi :-)

    . . . and I can relate. 100%. Recovery is an opportunity to discover who we are underneath the layers of fear and the belief that we have to live up to imaginary and real expectations. It feels like I have spent close to 25 years trying to please everyone. Except myself, that is. Due to this I lost touch with everything that made MY heart beat faster or put a huge smile on my face.

    Recovery has taught me to believe in myself, honor my needs and take chances. Paint my nails in a different color than usual. Voice my opinions. You know what? Life feels better this way. These are the true colors of my soul and I am going to let them shine.

    Much love your way.

    ~ Hedda.

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    1. We do tend to lose touch with everything that makes us who we are, don't we? This whole rediscovery process that we go through during recovery is pretty exciting if we allow ourselves to see it that way. Keep letting your true colors shine, Hedda! You are so wonderful. <3

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  8. Awww Kels I'm so happy for you :) This made me smile so big... I hope that I can do the same and destroy who ED has made me!

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    1. Thanks Em! I know it's a small step but I had to start somewhere. You can absolutely do it, too!

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  9. Bravo! What a great step! I'm not a black nail polish person, either--but I am still at 36 learning what my outward identity can and should and will be. I'm a perpetual people pleaser, and tend to play it safe with my appearance.

    The biggest "risk" I took recently in my outward identity was a pair of very high black heels to wear to a semi-formal event for my husband's job. They are sweet!! I feel confident, sophisticated, beautiful, and tall (normally I'm 5' 3"). I've always felt like kind of a plain, quiet wallflower, so to wear something that might possibly draw attention to myself is a little unnerving but worth it!

    My inner identity is secure as a daughter of God and safe in the hope and new life He has given me. My outward identity has always confused me, regardless of how much disordered thinking was or is going on! Stay-at-home mom, doctor's wife, Christian woman, mid-30's. But to really express "Alison" in each of those roles...still working on it.

    Very thought provoking post! Thank you! --Alison

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    1. Aw, I'm excited to hear about you and your black heels. I think we live in a society that somehow makes women feel guilty about being ourselves. There are so many negative repercussions for stepping outside of the box. We might be on the path toward self discovery our entire lives, but as long as we don't give up or stop believing in ourselves then we are half way there! :)

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  10. thats so beautiful it almost made me cry :O thank you for sharing this this is REAL inspiration and motivation !

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    1. Oh goodness, you're going to make me cry. haha <3

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    2. i hope not :D <3 to be honest your blog gave me so much hope today i decided NOT to do what i planned to do which would be pretty destructive and enjoy my freetime instead :)

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    3. Oh don't worry, they were happy tears! I am so happy this blog could help you in a small you. You made my entire day! :)

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