Meet The Hobby Hoarder And The Fear That Haunts Her
(Note: I had a chance to meet Libby Segal while shooting Sweet Retreats recently. She’s a young woman who really has her act together; I was immediately impressed. When she wrote this post for her own site, I asked if we could excerpt it here, to which she agreed. So enjoy and don’t forget to visit her over at TheHobbyHoarder.com)
It’s 2005. I’m staring at myself in the dressing room mirror of a major retail store in disgust. 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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
To this day, I have never publicly 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.
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.
What are you going to try this summer? Is it a two piece or swimming with sharks? What has always been your dream? Tell us and then go do it!
More from GEM:
Libby is a Brooklyn-based writer, television associate producer, stand up comic, and superhero. In February of 2012, she began a project called The Hobby Hoarder, in which she set out on a quest to try 52 new hobbies in 52 weeks. In February of 2013, she celebrated the project with a 37 state cross country road trip. She is currently writing a book about the hobby year with the mission of inspiring others to break out of their shell, to try new things, and to refuse the word no. Her project has been featured on NBC and AOL. You can find Libby on her blog, www.thehobbyhoarder.com or you can Tweet her @LibbySegal.