a woman stands with her hands on her hips, shattering the darkness around her

Feeling Comfortable In My Skin

Sometimes I think to myself, "How am I able to feel positive about my HIV status?" Then I had to remind myself that it’s because I always knew the HIV narrative was deeply flawed.

I was born with HIV, so when people try to connect my HIV status to me participating in non-monogamous sexual behaviors, I don’t take it personally because that narrative doesn’t align with how I got HIV. 

Another reason people's comments don't influence how I feel about myself is that I know they intend to have control in a situation they know they don’t have any in. It actually reveals how insecure that person feels.

How I dismissed societal narratives

I feel that my HIV status actually made me more in tune with my sexuality and overall well-being because since I was able to dismiss the HIV narrative. I was also able to dismiss other societal narratives.

I made it a habit always to analyze expectations put upon me to see if it aligns with how I envision myself.

It became easier for me to disconnect from them because I noticed the oppressive patterns that our society uses to control how a person feels about themselves.

People only think something is wrong when others say so

Everything is judged about us - our skin color, financial status, our sex, our relationship style, our body type, and the list goes on.

I don’t want to live up to how this society wants me to be when I never actually had a problem with myself; society does.

The truth is: people only start to think something is wrong with them if our culture says it’s something wrong with being a particular type of way.

Being my authentic self keeps me grounded

Beauty standards are constantly changing along with cultural values; therefore, I chose not to be a part of expectations that are not grounded.

Being my authentic self and accepting myself for who I am entirely is how I stay grounded. It’s a positive experience to change in alignment with myself because humans are constantly evolving. Therefore, I like to go with the flow of how I naturally feel about myself. 

For example, I consider myself gender-neutral/fluid, so the way I express myself through physical appearance often changes. One year, my clothes were slightly more feminine, and the following year I dressed slightly more masculine.

These changes happened because of how I naturally felt inside, not because society told me it was trending.

My natural way of being

Another example is that I’m an introvert. Throughout my entire life, people viewed it negatively as if there is something wrong with me.

I know this is my natural way of being, so I don’t personally feel bothered by it. Therefore, I don’t get disturbed by other people's opinions of it.

My opinion of myself is what matters

It has become expected for people to judge me, which makes it easier for me to not care.

It doesn't make sense to let a person who doesn't wake up in my skin every day have control over how I feel.

There are so many other examples I can share with you all. But I hope the ones that I've listed have inspired you to be who you feel you are.

Always remember your opinion about yourself is the only one that matters.

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