It has taken me a long time to believe that I am beautiful.
For most of my life, when I looked in the mirror, all I could see was my reflection painted with flaws.
My nose was too big.
My curly hair, too unruly.
My body, (depending on the year), was too fat, too skinny or too flabby.
It was a shallow reflection.
There was always something that made me want to jump out of my skin and find another body to inhabit. One that was a bit closer to perfect. One that fit into crowds. One that better matched the pictures I saw in magazines.
(Whatever that means.)
At the time, I didn’t realize that with each negative thought, every passing wince and self-hating comment, I was chipping away little pieces of myself and hiding them in deep, dark places.
I was assaulting my self-worth and leaving it to wither away in the haunted corners of my mind.
I was breaking my own heart, slowly and deliberately.
I was becoming smaller.
And, it was painful. Extremely painful.
I was fixated on this concept of external beauty and somehow forgot the truth—true beauty radiates from within. It comes from the deepest, most tender parts of our beings.
And, the really f*cked up thing is, I only believed it for myself.
For others, I saw their beauty emanating from their eyes and reflecting in their actions. If they said anything negative about themselves, I would gently steer them away from such thoughts by pointing out their beautiful internal (and external) qualities.
But somehow, when it came to nurturing and loving my own beautiful heart, I failed (or was failing).
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when everything shifted and I started to see myself differently.
Maybe it was when I courageously decided to leave the life I was living to create the life that I wanted.
Maybe it was when I finally understood the true meaning of unconditional love and figured out that it had to start with loving myself, with all my grace and imperfections.
Or, maybe it was when I realized that beauty is all encompassing and I wanted to be a part of it.
Regardless, it was (and continues to be) a process.
There are days when I feel the need to avoid mirrors, when that voice in my head chatters incessantly and I notice every blemish on my skin.
But, there are more days when I look directly into the mirror, into my eyes and tell myself that I am beautiful.
Now, I love my nose because it’s my mom’s nose and it’s a piece of her that I will always have with me.
I love my curly, unruly hair because it reflects the wild and fierce nature of my spirit and heart. It lets me show the world that I am choosing an untamed, unique path for my life.
I love my body because I know that I am taking care of it and honoring it for the vessel that will carry me to my greatness. I have accepted that as I get older, it will change and I will change with it.
But, what I love the most is that when I say the words, ” I am beautiful,” I still blush.
And that makes me smile.
Learning to Make Friends with Ourselves: Pema Chodron video on Maitri.
Author: Brandie Smith
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
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