Once upon a time, I thought the only way I could be happy with myself, was if I changed who I was. Unfortunately, I am very good at being me. Doesn't matter what I do, or how I try to change, I tend to still reek of me.
Now, I'm generally ok with that.
But, once upon a time, I most certainly was not.
A week or so ago, on Instagram, I shared a little about my relationship with magazines in middle school and high school.
It wasn't healthy.
I LOVED them.
And I thought, if I could be just like the girls in those magazines, I would be happier, more popular, and, would be attractive to more guys.
I spent hours combing through magazines, taking note of any tip, trick, or outfit, that I thought would help me achieve my goal.
I was convinced that the key to being popular, and therefor happier with who I was, was tucked away in one of the many pages of the ridiculous number of magazines I read.
Or, maybe I would find it in one of the TV shows I watched.
Or, it was possibly hidden away on some corner of the inter-web.
Well, it wasn't.
None of that made me happier.
It didn't make me feel sexier.
I most certainly did not feel any prettier, or more comfortable with myself.
I was just an awkward, gangly girl, convinced that the secret to true happiness was most definitely NOT within me.
Luckily, I got out of that toxic hole called high school, made it through one semester of college where I still thought I needed to be someone else in order to fit in, be liked, or be happy with myself, and moved away to Florida.
Once I got to Florida, something magical started to happen. Maybe some pixie dust rubbed off on me at work- who knows. But, regardless of where it came from, magic did happen.
Moving away from everyone and everything I knew was the BEST decision of my life.
No one knew me. No one knew who I was. Or, who I wanted to be, or was constantly trying to be.
I had the opportunity to just be myself. And guess what?!
People actually liked me, for me!
I didn't need to pretend to be someone else. I could just be my awkward self, and people like, loved and accepted that. It was amazing. I got more confident. I stopped caring as much about what others thought of me. I changed. Except not really, I just fully embraced myself.
And when I full on embraced myself, I started feeling a whole lot better about how I looked, what I did, how I spoke, and all the ridiculous things I said. I felt beautiful. I felt powerful. I felt unstoppable.
I felt how each of us should feel on an almost daily basis. I say almost because it's just unrealistic and ridiculous to try and say no one has bad days. We all do. Period.
Do you understand the moral of my story?
You need to accept who you are, to be happy with who you are.
It's that simple, and yet SO freakin' hard.
Do you know why it is hard? Because we live in a world where we are trained to doubt, criticize and hate our bodies and what makes us us, just the way we are.
"Commercials, infomercials, billboards, and magazines are pushing the latest fads to look younger, thinner, firmer, or sexier, with longer legs, fuller lips, thicker eyelashes, or bigger breasts; it seems impossible to be happy with what we look like." -Decent Exposure
I fed into this for SO long. I wasted years trying to be happy the way the world told me I could find happiness.
Guys, I've got news for you. It did not, and it does not work. NOT ONE BIT.
I want you all to give yourself a good, long, hard look in the mirror, and ask yourself, what are you telling yourself? Is it the same story that the world is trying to sell you? Because, if it is, that is the only thing that needs changing. Not you. (I feel it is important to say that each of us should always being striving to better ourselves, and take care of ourselves. But that is different than what I'm talking about here.)
Change your story. Change your life.
A few years ago I was told a story, that, despite my best efforts, I can't seem to find again, so I'll do my best to retell it.
Years, and years, and years ago, a man traveled to a remote village surrounded by mountains. The only way in or out of the village was by plane. So, no one really entered, and no one really left. In this village there were 3 women who were considered the ugliest of the ugly. No one wanted them for wives. Because they were so ugly, I'm sure they were treated accordingly.
When this man entered the village, they begged him to take them with him when he left. They told him that there was nothing for them in this village. Everyone thought they were ugly.
The man, who I think might have been a doctor, told them that he wouldn't take them with him, but that he would be back in a year, and if they still wanted to go with him then, he would let them. But, on one condition. Everyday , for the next year, they had to tell themselves that they were beautiful. Everyday.
A year goes by, and the women did what they had been instructed to. When the man returns, he finds that these 3 women are no longer considered the ugliest women of the village, but are now the most beautiful, and most sought after.
The person telling me the story ended by saying that these women became famous models, so, I'm assuming that they still left their little village.
Whether this story is true or not, I think it has a very valuable take-away. These women changed their story, and it changed their life.
The village around them didn't change. The world around us probably won't either.
The women changed what they believed about themselves, and it made all the difference.
We need to do the same thing.
These women didn't change their hair, or how they looked, or what they did, or how they dressed, to meet their villages standard. We don't need to either.
So, there isn't a 12 step program to being happy with yourself. I wish there was.
We just need to be aware of what the world is telling us, and what we are telling ourselves.
Fads and trends change. If we pin our value to fads, we will forever be chasing after in.
Growing up I thought I had the biggest, most disgusting eyebrows.
This led to over plucking, and quite deserved ridicule from my Dad. He told me my eyebrows were just fine. I did not believe him.
Now that big, thick, prominent eyebrows are in, I've realized that mine are pretty average in size.
And, now that I'm a little older and wiser, I also realized that my eyebrows are just fine.
If I chased after whatever is trending in the eyebrow department, I will seriously never be happy with them.
You are always going to be too skinny, too curvy, too tall, too blonde, too loud, or too something to someone else.
Embrace the beautiful mess you are.
Love what makes you unique.
Celebrate your differences.
When you love who you are, it seems almost magically, everyone around you accepts you for who you are too.
You deserve to be happy with who you are.
You should be proud of who you are and what you are becoming.
If you don't, it's time to change the story you're telling yourself because, changing what the world is telling you you should change, is not going to make you happy.
Only you can make you happy.
It's also a little scary.
It takes hard work.
But, I am constantly working for it, and I think it is something we should do together.