We put in so much effort to remember happy occasions (e.g. birthdays, wedding anniversaries). We mark these dates in our calendars, save reminders on our phones, take pictures, post them on social media and even make the occasional “throw-back” reference. Despite these efforts, it’s inevitable that […]
Feeling beautiful is personal and for some an ongoing journey. Feeling beautiful differs from looking beautiful because feeling beautiful needs only to be validated by one person.. YOURSELF.
Recently, I reflected on my own ideas of beauty and how it had contributed to deep seated feelings of not being enough. Have you ever looked at an older picture of yourself and thought:
“hey, I didn’t look so bad then..”
“oh to be 18 again…”
“oh darn those jeans would never fit me now”
And yes, there were many other old photos where I prefer not to ever have them appear again (thank goodness I did not grow up in the era of social media, because most of my growing up photos are tucked in old albums, in an old cabinet at home. Not to be found on the internet. Not to be liked/hated. Not filtered. Not to be commented.)
So despite me having moments of “wish I was as young or as thin as I was back then“, I remember being there and wishing I was everything but myself.
There are too many messages in this world that dampen our confidence. We are all guilty of thinking or saying hurtful and judgmental things of people, and I am no saint either. Sadly, this only reflects on our own insecurities and on how we see ourselves. It is our human tendency to compare, to seek more and to be better. The irony of this is that although it serves to help us improve, it also easily becomes a barrier to two important elements of living happy: gratefulness and contentment.
In my personal journey of feeling beautiful, I have fought to understand the messages I received about what I am. This is what I have learned:
1. My body serves me.
I am a woman, I may lack curves in certain areas and to some I may have too much in other areas. But my body works for me. I feel strong in it. It allows me to do many fun physical activities and it also keeps me warm during cold winter days.
My body has changed so much over the years and it will continue to change. I will fuel my body with good food and I will continue to respect it when it needs a break. My body is beautiful because of everything that it’s been through with me. It’s been through trauma, it’s been through injuries and damage, it’s been neglected and it’s been through lots of stress. My body is one tough cookie and I am grateful for it!
2. Love is not about appearance.
He told that he was no longer physically attracted to me. He said he was looking to be with someone with his “ideal” body type. That was the last time I allowed myself to ever talk to him again.
People do not love you for how you look. If they do, then I’m sorry because it is NOT love. We do not value people base on what they wear, who they know or how physically strong or fit they are – or at least I hope for you, this is not the case. We love people for who they are are and what they mean to us. Luckily for me, God reminded me of the many people who have continuously loved me, through “thick and thin” (literally) and I have received the utmost support from them this year.
The amazing thing about love is that everything about that person becomes beautiful. People who love you will make you feel beautiful. When you begin to love you, feeling beautiful will naturally happen too!
3. I rock my look
Many years ago, I read this and it really stuck with me:
” Sexy, to me, is the way you carry what you have. I have a big nose, but I rock it.” – Justin Timberlake.
Feeling beautiful looks beautiful. I use to wear pink pants to university with a purple jacket I bought from the kids section. It’s funny now, but I totally thought I rocked it and it felt great. Ironically, it was at the times when I might have “looked” the part that I was actually feeling the most insecure and not so great.
No one on this earth is perfect. Everyone is flawed in their own way. It takes courage to wear our flaws loud and proud, like it doesn’t matter. The truth is, it really does not matter. What you see as flaws, someone out there sees as beautiful. So let that start with you, because we should never rely on anyone else to love us more than we do.
When I was younger, social media platforms easily became a public journal of my life. I thought living my life as an ‘open book’ showed others that I had nothing to hide. It was an action I took to tell my young-teenage-self that I was not ashamed of my thoughts, my feelings and actions. Naive to some extent, yet, some time in the past decade I have stopped sharing and I have become extremely critical of myself and also those around me. I was excited about the idea of writing again in order to share my recovery journey (and constant struggle) with my most recent loss. However, it has taken me forever to finally post. I was stuck on revising my writings, rethinking topics and second guessing whether the amount of information I was disclosing was too much.
“How did I become so critical of myself?”
“When did I develop this need to be seen as intelligent and strong?”
“Why did it bother me so much when/if others judged me?”
I forgot about the difficulty and stress that comes from being transparent with others about my thoughts, feelings and actions. In the past decade, I have only shared it with a selective few. One of these individuals was a boy I’ve come to love for 10 years and he was often critical of how I presented myself to others. So now that I am finally set free from his views, I come face to face with my first challenge. Sharing with you my heart and my experiences with brokenness is the beginning of my journey to becoming ‘the strong woman’.
I hope my journey will help you redefine your views on strength as well and perhaps when you hit your ‘rock bottom’ you will come to realize that we are all more similar than we are different.
In true therapist fashion, I would like to breakdown my current understanding of a “strong” person into two parts:
- Someone who is taking the steps and action with the intention of bettering themselves (emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually).
- These steps and actions must respect what our body, mind and heart needs in order to move forward.