I don't know if you've heard the song "Elastic Heart" by Sia, but I adore it (and the video is very cool). I know the song is probably about a break up, but I really love the line, "I've got thick skin and an elastic heart." I feel like this resonates with how I feel about myself nowadays.
Growing up, I was a pretty sensitive child who got offended or upset easily by friends or family. I don't know if it was because I was the baby of the family or I didn't know any better but to be overly sensitive. I would dwell on any negative comment made towards me by elementary school girls to the point I refused to go to school. I guess you could say I had bullies, but looking back what they said was completely laughable and not at all threatening. I just couldn't handle people disliking me for no known reason. I wanted acceptance in everything I did, it was my priority in life.
My father died right before I turned sixteen and this threw me into a deeper pit of needing acceptance. Not only did I feel like I needed people to accept me, but also for a God to love and accept me. I became religious because I was automatically accepted as a Christian. People were nice to me at church and in youth group. I don't regret that time in my life because going to Bible Study was a better choice of a form of acceptance than sleeping around or partying as a teenager.
I then got into modeling and I had to learn very quickly to take rejection. I was asked multiple times by casting agents if I was planning to have a nose job, boob job, lip injections, if I could lose more weight, grow my hair out, cut my hair, be blonde, act more serious, the list goes on. At first, it was absolutely frightening and then I realized that my body was a product (that sounds wrong, but you know what I'm getting at) and these agents weren't attacking my character, they didn't know me as a person at all! They were simply looking for the perfect model for a specific look they had in mind. I knew I wasn't the worst model because I did get jobs and was accepted into some very sought after agencies. I got to travel, meet designers, be independent, and make new friends so despite all the rejection, I had a good time modeling internationally and also started to grow a thick skin as a result.
I feel like when I entered college, I slid back into the NEED to be accepted. I think it was because I was insecure about being a 'townie' since I was going to school less than 10 minutes away from my mother's house. I joined a sorority in order to feel accepted and I felt more outcast than accepted (though I do not blame any girls in the house, I just didn't feel like I was really part of a sisterhood since I was so used to doing my own thing). I felt like the people I connected with most were the artsy kids and the people in my major, Apparel Design, who looked at life outside the box like I did. Suffice to say, I did NOT want to become a fashion designer, but stuck with it because I loved the people I was around in my major and didn't want to pay for more college to change my major! I think being around the artistic community at Purdue fueled my need to be accepted but also we celebrated our diversity and independence at the same time.
After college when the recession hit hard, I felt very vulnerable trying to be a grown up with no real job prospects. I went in and out of relationships in order to try to feel fulfilled in a new life that was quite frankly scary. At this time, I was too old to start over in fashion modeling and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Haha, I still don't but at least I've accepted that now! Several jobs and relationships later, I finally started dating my now husband JD, who is tough as nails and has inspired me to keep a tough skin. The world can be rough, but he's shown me you can get back up, brush yourself off, and keep moving.
Though JD inspired me to be a little more thick skinned, he didn't push me to be so, I had to be willing to do that myself. Maybe it's age or the fact I'm a mother now, but I don't feel the need for the whole world to love me. The most important person I need love from is myself. I am thankful for all my experiences to bring me to the woman I am today. I hope things will only keep getting better.