My Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Biggest, Baddest Fear

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It’s 2005. I’m staring at myself in the dressing room mirror of a major retail store in disgust. I’ve been inside this room for twenty minutes trying and untrying summer wear. I am turning sideways, crouching down, bending backwards. “Nothing fits right!”  I yell. “You’re fat.” The words spill out of my mouth as I taunt my reflection. I smack the hangers on the door, and I imagine smashing the mirror so I don’t have to look at myself any longer. But there’s my reflection staring back at me with disappointment.

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Eight years later I’m hosting a blog about refusing the word no, getting out of our shell, and overcoming our biggest fears.

In the past year, I have tried everything from pole dancing to sky diving, from beatboxing to plane piloting, and from archery to shark diving. I’ve looked fear in the face on several occasions and I’ve laughed, loudly. I’ve told fear that I am bigger than it. I’ve started saying, “Yes!” instead of, “No way.” This past year I’ve given myself a chance to live—freely and happily. But just because I’ve laughed fear in the face on occasion, doesn’t mean I’m completely immune to feelings of anxiety and uneasiness.

Throughout this blog, I’ve discussed my fear of the ocean, and I’ve mentioned how downhill ski mountains kind of sort of give me the heebie jeebies.

But the truth is my biggest fear doesn’t involve heights or falling. It doesn’t involve dying in a fire nor does it involve being eaten by a shark (though, my second biggest fear IS ocean water). “Why?” you ask. Well because none of these things asks me to stand in front of another human being and be vulnerable to their thoughts, their judgments, and their feelings. My biggest fear is much deeper—much darker. And while the panic I feel towards this specific fear seems silly to write about, it is this fear that tears at my self-esteem and that makes me feel more human than any of the others — the one that I even feel vulnerable writing about now.

My biggest fear involves an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot—oh wait no, I mean it involves ANY itsy bitsy teenie weenie bikini.

That’s right, the girl who has gone swimming with sharks, who has jumped out of an airplane, and who has let the Great Throwdini throw knives all around her is scared of nothing more than donning a bikini.

This isn’t a new fear. It’s always been my fear. When I was younger, I’d go into the dressing room—two or three one pieces in hand, and a dreadful aching feeling in my heart.

“Does it really have to be swim suit season again?” I’d painfully ask my mother.

As I got older, those dreadful aching feelings remained, though one summer—the summer of 2005, I decided to be daring, and bring a bikini into the fitting room. I removed my t-shirt, and went to clasp the top piece of the bikini. That’s when World War 3 broke out within the confines of a small fitting room: the disgust, the self-emotional abuse, the smacking of the hangers, and the yelling at the mirror.

I screamed, “Nothing fits right! You’re fat.” I continued the conversation with myself and added: “Really, Libby? Really? You thought you would suddenly have all the confidence in the world?”

I relentlessly continued the abuse. I felt sick to my stomach.  “I can’t do this,” I told myself, and before even attempting to pull on the bottom piece, I had already unclasped the top and started throwing my baggy hoody back on.

Saddened, tears swelled and fell from my eyes. I was falling apart in the dressing room of a major retail store. There was no one there to confide in—just my disappointed reflection.

I was sixteen going on seventeen at the time—and I was terrified of my own reflection. Each time I took a look, I’d pick out all my problems—my flaws. So instead of looking—I just stopped. I stopped seeing myself.

My failure to accept my size and myself resulted in me turning down many shopping trips with friends. And during the times when I did tag along, I’d avoid trying on any of the clothes. I didn’t want have to pick up the size 12 from the jean shelf while my friends were pulling off the 4s, 6s, and 8s. I didn’t want to have to try and squeeze into an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt that was never made to fit me anyway.  Put simply, I didn’t want to be publicly embarrassed in front of my best friends—who probably would have never judged me either way. At this point, the only person truly judging me–was me.

Years later, when I was a junior in college, I lost a significant amount of weight. I was thin as a board. But still, I could never find comfort in sporting a two-piece that bared my stomach. A Tankini—yes, but a bikini? No way. Even though I wasn’t as big as I once was—or felt I was—I knew I was still bigger than someone. And that was enough to trigger all those irrational self-conscious feelings from the past.

To this day, I have never publically worn a bikini. Part of my goal on this blog—and in this life—is to inspire others to experiment without fear; to push past the judgmental thoughts of others and ourselves; and to live life freely—without chains holding us back. I want to show people that we are capable of overcoming even our deepest darkest fears—ones that don’t always appear on the surface. So often, we are fearful of telling people our age, our weight, our height, or our innermost beliefs, but we never admit it as our “fear.” The scariest part of it all? Is that these things—our age, our weight, our height, our beliefs, our ability to stand in front of people—all these things that make us vulnerable—are a huge piece of what make us as beautiful as who we are.

I can’t say that I came to the decision to admit my fear on my own. Recently, author Torre DeRoche launched her memoir, Love with a Chance of Drowning, which chronicles her willingness to overcome her biggest fear (sailing the ocean) to salvage love. She refers to it as a “fearful adventure.” With the launch of her book, DeRoche invited her followers and fellow bloggers to take a challenge and share their own fearful adventure. She said the entries could be as ridiculous or as simple and sweet as the writer wanted. And she made the requirements clear that each story should focus on that one “special” fear “that keeps getting in the way of what you want to be doing.”

So I decided to accept DeRoche’s challenge and invitation and describe my own fearful adventure. At first, I was ready to get comical—and outline something “absolutely ridiculous.” I jotted down a few ideas like riding a dolphin around the world—or throwing on a cape and being a real life superhero! But then I realized, I was getting ready to use comedy to cover up what I really wanted to talk about: My Real Fear—the one of wearing a bikini—the one of being vulnerable.

So this summer, I am setting out on a fearful adventure to leave my insecurities behind, squash my low self-esteem and to glide seamlessly along the sands of even the most crowded shores.  When the sun finally heats up this summer, I am setting out on a fearful adventure to don an itsy bitsy teenie weenie  bikini – or at least get back into that dressing room and try.


Love with a Chance of Drowning – A Memoir by Torre DeRocheThis post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.

“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press

“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.” Nomadicmatt.com

“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail

Find out more…


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About libs012

Stand up comedian, writer, filmmaker, and associate producer.

21 responses »

  1. Gregg Scully

    Wonderful, honest essay, and I trust that it will be even more inspirational to others with similar fears than some of your more seemingly daring feats. On behalf of those it will impact in positive ways, thanks for writing it.

    Reply
    • Gregg,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment. It was not an easy thing to write about, and the panic that overwhelmed me as I pressed “publish” last night was pretty massive (ha), so I appreciate the positive feedback more than you know. All the best, Libby

      Reply
  2. Beautifully written, Libs. The world needs more transparency– thanks for being an inspiration and for taking the courage to not only face your biggest fear, but to share it will all of us! Much love, sister.

    Reply
    • Ashley, You KNOW how much I value your opinion so thank you so much for taking the time to read, comment, and share. Very happy to have met someone so motivated and inspirational as you. I’m sure I get some of my courage from you. All the best, Libby

      Reply
  3. You’re a hero Libs!!! Good for you, sister!!!

    Reply
  4. Way to go, Libby! It takes a lot of courage to be that publicly vulnerable. Great piece.

    Reply
  5. Great article! Facing one’s fears is such an empowering place to live. Congrats on doing so many things in spite of the fear. Someone told me once that fear simply stands for: Fales Evidence Appearing Real! Go for it. Sounds like you are ready to face this one. Best Regards, Wendy UBC http://wendybottrell.com

    Reply
  6. Great post! It’s often those voices that speak within our head that are our biggest enemy. Even though I don’t personally know you, I can tell that you will overcome this fear this summer and change the voices in your head to be powerful allies. Good luck.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Bonnie, for your confidence in me. I once wrote about how the confidence of strangers often holds the greatest power. Really appreciate your taking the time to stop by and comment. All the best!

      Reply
  7. That was a really great read Libs and i hate reading lol you are very talented. You are a very inspirational person don’t stop.

    Reply
  8. Amazing post, Libs. Happen to have been thinking a lot about authenticity these past few days…uncomfortable truths, admitting and accepting the things we keep trying to work around instead of through which NEVER works… thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  9. A brave confession. Sometimes the littlest fears are the worst of them all. Now go strut that bikini!

    Reply
  10. Brave and lovely post. So glad you wrote this. I think it’s a great reminder that for a lot of us the biggest fear isn’t spiders or water or snakes or heights. It’s vulnerability.

    Reply
    • Thanks Gigi! It took me a long time to be able to put that all in words. Vulnerability. It makes sense why public speaking is feared even over death. Have you seen the film The Artist is Present? It really shows people being most vulnerable at their core.

      Reply
  11. Pingback: Your Fearful Adventures

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