I’m at a phase in my body where I don’t like the way I look or feel in a lot of things.
I’m not complaining—that’s just where I am. After a lifetime of struggling with my feelings about my body, I have come to accept a few things about it: (1) This body has gotten me through a lot, and it’s not a total failure; (2) It’s okay to want my body to feel or look different on my terms, and (3) My size fluctuates, and that’s okay. sometimes I can prioritize my physical fitness and sometimes I can’t. I’m eking into a phase where I can pay more attention to it, but things don’t change overnight and I’m okay with accepting where I am now even while acknowledging that I’d like to work toward feeling stronger and healthier.
So. Anyway. I am in a plumper phase right now, which means some of my clothes are more snug than they were a year ago. But I have this one dress that I like to wear a lot. No matter my size, it’s flattering. Pair it with tights and some boots, maybe a necklace, and I look smoothed out in a way that I don’t in my NaNoWriMo finisher’s t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
Take off the dress, take off the t-shirt and jeans, and the same squishy, lumpy body still stands in my wall mirror. Nothing changes except the way I feel about the way I look.
But that in turn changes the way I present myself. I just feel more confident in this dress (Yes, I’m wearing it right now because I just got home from work!) than I would with my belly protruding over the waistband of my slacks, my arms testing the elasticity of the sleeves of my company-issued electric-blue polo. Why? I’m still the same person. I still have the same degrees, the same professional experience, the same life.
But how I dress myself up makes a difference.
I sold several hundred books last week. I made several hundred dollars. On my writing! I am over the moon about that! ←See, the exclamation mark means I really mean it! The book also hit the #1-#20 New Releases in a few categories, and almost made it into the Dystopian Bestsellers list. It did make it into the Genetic Engineering Science Fiction Bestsellers list. All of this is amazing!
If I stop there, though, I’m not being entirely transparent with you.
I’m not telling you that also on the Genetic Engineering Science Fiction Bestsellers list is a series of books that feature very shirtless, very sculpted cowboy-cyborgs on the cover. (Click the link if you don’t believe me, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just…maybe not a genre match?
I’m not telling you that I’m terrified all the people who are ever going to buy the book have already bought it, and that it will fade into obscurity because either the people who buy it don’t like it enough to recommend it to their friends or because books aren’t as much a part of everyone else’s life as they are mine.
I’m not telling you that I’m afraid my job is now entirely going to consist of book promotion and that I’ll never find the time to write the sequel to this book, or the hundred other projects I’m working on, or the thousand other projects that continue to inspire me despite the ever-collapsing pinprick of time available to work on them.
I give you this peek behind my typically positive mask to let you know that, if you worry about the things no one can see, you’re not the only one. I can dress it up all I want—and I will, depending who I’m talking to—and that insulates other people from knowing my worries and me from having to talk about them.
But take off the dress, and there they are.
One thing I can say, though, is that now I have a baseline for comparison. Next book I publish, I’ll have some kind of metric of what to expect and what kinds of goals to set for myself. See there? The positivity won.