2017 Is Your Year To Be YOU
I posted this photo and statement on Instagram the other day. It was bold. It was a piece of me I kept inside for an entire lifetime. I let it out. Not to my mom or my friends. But on an open canvas for anyone to see.
It was my shame, my physical defect that I carried inside of my head since I was a small child. It’s funny how much school can change a kid. All is right in the world until our peers who gawk and examine every inch of our being surround us.
Sniffing out the differences so they feel more normal, more like everyone else.
Less like you.
My parents did well when we were babies, my brother and me. They had decent paying jobs right out of high school, a new van, and home my father built, a mortgage.
I am not sure what changed other than by preschool they lost everything. That’s when all of the moving began.
They sold our two-story home in Fort Collins, Colorado, and we moved into the Big Thompson Canyon, living in a cluster of small homes along the river.
Shortly after we ended up in Estes Park, a resort town where crowds of wealthy skiers flocked each winter and sight-seers in the summer months to view the famed Big Horns in the Rocky Mountains.
When I began school we lived in a small two-bedroom apartment on the back of the lobby that hosted guests in a lodge my parents managed. The door to our shared room was next to the lobby bathroom.
Guests would often walk into our mess several times a day searching for the toilet.
My parents had friends with nice homes, but I never thought about the difference between their spacious three-story cabins with wood burning fireplaces or our 800 square-foot apartment with a small furnace we couldn’t afford to run.
My life was comfortable. Until I went to school and learned that my life wasn’t like everyone else’s life. I wore my brother’s old clothes, my parents shared a beat up car, and I didn’t have space for friends to play in my bedroom.
My hair was frizzy, tousled with brushed out curls. I had full, misshapen lips, my face often red from crying because I didn’t want my mother to leave me with these people at this new place. And I had a round mole in the middle of my cheek that no one else seemed to have.
Not a single person.
I often wished I wore glasses because they seemed an interesting distraction from the rest of my ugly. Maybe if I wore glasses no one would see me as me.
There I stood, that strange little girl who lived high up in the mountains with her brother’s old t-shirt and a big brown stain on her face.
I immediately transformed from the boisterous kid secure in her world, roaming the mountains and ponds all day to a shy, quiet kid who couldn’t find her voice when asked a question.
I never knew what it was like to be different. It was always my brother and me. Sometimes we’d play with the kids visiting the lodge, but the only person I ever compared myself to was the girl I saw in the mirror.
And now everyone else.
We grow up and find our footing. Resilient by nature, we learn to accept who we are, flaws and all.
But do we really?
And what does it mean to accept our flaws but to admit we are okay with being defective.
Just like the first time we step into the kindergarten classroom, we realize our world isn’t as secure as we thought. We are constantly pressured to compare.
We want her skin, and the legs on that one, and we’d kill to have her abs—her confidence.
No one gets us. No one knows what it’s like to be in the body of a woman who carried three children, all born within years from each other. The body covered in stretch marks, a belly that isn’t as taut as it was when she met her husband.
The shame she feels when she undresses before him. The long sweaters and bagging jeans she hides beneath.
No one knows what it’s like to be in the body of a woman who has always struggled with her weight. Who will never see abs or have smooth skin without blemish from cellulite or stretch marks.
No one knows what it’s like to be in the body of a woman who is covered by burns and scars from a lifetime of abuse. Who is always conscious to not show the skin on her back for fear of it telling her story.
No one knows what it’s like for the woman who has never loved her body wholly, unquestionably without second thought.
But we do.
We all do.
And it’s heart-wrenching that we all share this deep sense of self-loathing.
That we carry this shame.
Because her shame is no different than yours or mine.
It is our shame. And a shame that we allow society to project onto us.
I get it.
You may not think I do because, well, I’m not you. I don’t understand you. I don’t have the same fears and insecurities about my body that you do.
But they are all interchangeable. We are all solving the same equation, each of us with our own method of getting to the answer.
The answer always being ‘not good enough.’
In order to change that answer we need to reframe the question. Rather than worrying whether or not we are (good, smart, pretty, skinny, lean, muscular, young, fill-in-the-blank) enough …
Why not ask, “Good enough for whom?”
Because really the only person you ever need to be good enough for is YOU.
And, damn it honey, you fucking are.
2017 is your year to own the word #flawless. Write it on everything you touch. Make it your screen saver. Annoy the living hell out of yourself with that word.
Because it is the very definition of who you are. Not who you will become, but who you already KNOW you are.
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