What does it mean to “Come as You Are?” It means to show up regardless of where you’re at in life or how you’re doing. It means to be authentic and to share your true self with the world. This is sometimes super scary. Or it’s vulnerable. It takes work to share our true selves with the world and if we’re not ready yet, that’s okay too.
For me, I try to be as authentic as I can be on Instagram but even I’m not perfect. Even I take five selfies and choose the one I like the best instead of just posting the first photo. But I also try to bring attention to those things, and I bring attention to how I’m truly doing. People started to follow me when I started being real about recovery and depression. When I posted about how lost I felt when I was depressed, people were able to relate. When I talked about how hard it is to stay in recovery sometimes, people listened.
It’s not easy being authentic. But being true to ourselves takes less work than hiding behind masks and disguises. When we’re acting true to ourselves, we’re not expending extra energy to pretend to be someone else. Imagine if instead of smiling all the time we just relaxed our face or frowned if that’s how we were feeling. Imagine if when someone asked how we’re doing, we told them the truth instead of dismissing our feelings. Notice how much less energy that requires.
The first time I was truly authentic on Instagram was when I took a photo of myself in a bathing suit and posted it. I was sitting at my desk looking through photos and I stopped and looked at it. When I took the photo, I took it just for myself and I told myself no one had to see it. And that’s fine. If I didn’t want anyone to see it then they didn’t have to. But some part of me wanted to put something real out there. Something for all the fat girls who are too afraid to buy a bikini or try one on—the fat girl I used to be. And so, I posted it. And it got reposted and blew up. I checked my phone an hour later and my phone had so many notifications I didn’t know what happened.
What really happened was I let people see me. I allowed myself to be transparent and honest. I talked about my fear in that moment and how liberated I felt. And it was true. I was scared. But I did also feel free. I felt like I could do hard things because I’d just done one of the hardest things.
I showed up for myself. I showed up for myself in a fat body. I didn’t change myself to be skinny to show up. I just was me. Fat, black, super cute me.
And that’s how we come as we are. We push ourselves out of our comfort zone and we live there. Maybe it’s not for days at a time but we do it once and then we do it again, and then soon we’re doing it more and more. And we’re living our truth.
Since then I have done my best to uphold my value of authenticity on social media. I even have a story highlight on Instagram that I made talking about authenticity on my account. It is important to me that when you look at my content you can see I don’t have everything together. I’m not perfect. Some days I’m not even okay. But I still share so that someone else out there knows they’re not alone.
That’s how I show up for me.
Nia is an eating disorder recovery and mental health advocate. She has spent much of the past two years documenting her recovery from bulimia, OCD, PTSD, and bipolar disorder on Instagram and her blog. It is her personal goal to become a therapist and work with people with eating disorders and co-occurring disorders. She posts on Instagram @thefriendIneverwanted and blogs at www.thefriendineverwanted.com. You can also find Nia’s body positive and self-care artwork in her Etsy Shop, The Dapper Dolphin.
Author image by Amanda Lopez @snapshotlopes