14. To Swim in the Ocean

14. To Swim in the Ocean

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

To Swim in the Ocean

I have a butt, I have boobs, and I have a woman’s curves; there is no way I’d see them go to zero.

~Jennifer Lopez, in British Elle

What makes a girl feel confident? Is it clothes, hair, make-up? Maybe it’s her friends?

I think it comes from within. If you are feeling good, happy, and your life is heading in the direction you want, then confidence emanates from your soul.

I am like many women and not a perfect size, not even close. Why should my weight make me feel less of a person? I used to spend a lot of time worrying about it. At times, I obsessed over it. Now, I never think about it and I am very happy.

I have been too thin, just right, chunky and just plain “fat.” I used pants sizes to measure my worth. I believed in society’s version of “perfect” and all it did was make me feel bad about myself.

My family suffered, because if I starved I was grumpy; and if I gained a pound, I was grumpy. It was an endless cycle of beating myself up and never enjoying my awesome life. I had a wonderful husband who never mentioned my weight (he said I was beautiful when I was size 5 and when I was a size 20) and four wonderful children. But I was too unhappy with myself to enjoy it.

Then one day everything changed: I was told I had cancer.

That’s the kind of news that turns your life upside down. Being thin wasn’t as important as being alive. I had lots of time to think about my time on earth and what I should be doing with it. I thought about my kids. My youngest was only four and she didn’t deserve a grumpy mom pouting about her pants size; she deserved a mom with whom she could laugh and have crazy fun with and make great memories. So I made the choice to be happy.

When my cancer treatments were over and I felt stronger, my husband and I treated ourselves to a magical vacation. I love the ocean so my husband took me to California. I put on my swimsuit and we spent hours walking along the shore and gathering seashells and I didn’t care that my suit was a size 20. I swam in the ocean and sat on the beach and held hands with my husband. I have used that swimsuit hundreds of times since then. We take the kids to the waterpark and play in the wave pool and float in the lazy river. We laugh and make memories and nobody cares what size I am.

Then one day everything changed: I was told I had cancer.

My confidence comes from within.

It’s not a dress size or a bank account. It is a state of mind for which I alone am responsible. Too bad it took cancer to open my eyes.

I make sure to tell my daughters that healthy food and exercise are important, but that a size is just a size. They should be happy with themselves and swim in the ocean of life.

~Michelle Bruce

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