You know what is weird about being a human? We care so much about how people view us, but then when they actually tell us, we’re all surprised and flustered and either insulted or unable to take a compliment (at least I’m this way, and like to assume I’m not alone in this).
Case in point: my friend Shelly took some photos of me in the summer, and just published them on her site, along with her story of our friendship.
It hadn’t occurred to me that she would write anything about me, how she sees me or how our friendship has grown. And as I looked through the photos, I thought, Really? That’s what I look like? What is wrong with my head? Where did those wrinkles come from? Why don’t I know how to put on eye makeup yet? My arms look…like spaghetti. Ugh. Were the roles reversed and any of my friends had such fantastic photos up on Facebook, I’d be raving all over them (like my friends did for me).
It’s not unusual for me to talk to myself - and subsequently talk back, which is what eventually happened…
Enough! I said. What if you look at this photo like it isn’t you? What if this was someone else, someone you don’t know?
I love her hair. I said to myself, And her eyes. I like the way she smiles. And her legs in that one. They look GREAT!
Then I went back to the kind things Shelly said about me, and I read them like she was talking about someone else, and I let them absorb into my skin, and I thought, You know what? I like this girl. She seems legit - not perfect, but definitely likeable.
And I had to stop myself there. Because even though I am far more comfortable with my personality and my body than I was a decade ago, I still criticize. I struggle to not control how people see me, or point out why they’re wrong, why I am not so kind or fun or cute as they may say.
Some days I look in the mirror and say to myself, Dang, Girl! (my Summer of the Skirt definitely helped) and some days my heart is full of gratitude and empathy for the complex inner workings of my heart and mind. And that is okay to embrace. It isn’t ego and it isn’t vanity. It’s love.
On the days where I don’t feel quite so excited about who I am or how I look, it is easy to assume that everyone outside my head shares my views. But the reality is, they don’t. And their perspectives on my beauty and my character are just as valid as my own. Maybe even more accurate!
So. I’m going to let my friends tell me how they see me, and take the kind words to heart just as deeply as I take “constructive feedback.” And I’m going to let them tell me I’m beautiful even when I don’t see it. And I’m going to tell you all that I was self-conscious about wearing short-shorts for this photo shoot, but I really like my legs* in this picture:
*I actually like my legs in all the photos I've seen so far. I like all of me in this particular photo. I like the way I'm standing, and my hair and the muscular look of my legs, and the way my shirt sits on my curves.