For as long as I can remember, I never considered myself to be attractive, let alone beautiful. I would do anything to feel pretty like the other girls around me. I constantly compared myself to the girls in my school or neighborhood, desperately trying to look effortless and flawless, just like they did. I would buy makeup and curl my hair every day. But still, nothing could make me believe that I was beautiful.
It wasn’t until my second year at University that my perspective began to change, and thank goodness, as I’m glad it did. I surrounded myself with people who didn’t only go to parties and who cared less about makeup, hair products, and pant size, but rather more about the impact they had on the people around them on a sincerely genuine level. They were involved in things that actually mattered, not only to their own interests, but the well-being of the community around them. They each enjoyed and were passionate about what they believed in, and didn’t care if others thought it was cool or not. They gave me a sense of relief and a new perspective; being passionate about something and being yourself was, well, beautiful.
These people began to teach me that being BEAUTIFUL is being yourself.
Among my new surroundings, I met someone who called me beautiful everyday, all day… Who really meant it and didn’t say it because it was rude not too or because they had obligations to. In my worst moments, when I cried or felt ugly, he would look me in the eyes and say, “You’re beautiful.” I slowly but surely began to believe it. I began to feel confident in who I was and in my appearance.
I learned that being beautiful is being confident in who you are.
I have lived through life with so many unworthy critics giving me ideas on how I needed to live and what I had to do to be successful when I was older. There were moments when I didn’t want to have some of the friends that I did or go out with people who treated me poorly, but I would do it anyway to make those around me happy, even when they didn’t deserve it. Recently, I’ve started to learn I have to do what’s best for myself and do what makes me happy. That being happy with who I was and what I stood for was the best version of myself. Even if it wasn’t what those around me wanted.
I’ve had intense conversations with some close friends. We all sat on the bed and talked about what we didn’t love about ourselves. This seems far too cliché and far too typical for a group of good-looking 20 something girls, but we did it. It wasn’t until the end of the conversation I realized that we all had things we didn’t love, like our weight or the color of our hair. But not everyone recognized this and, many felt the opposite. As if those qualities we totally hate about ourselves was something that defined who we were, a quality that others, and many were in love with. It wasn’t until then that I learned,everyone’s definition of beautiful, is different.
Being beautiful isn’t about having the perfect Barbie body type or wearing the newest clothing. It’s about being who you are, having confidence in yourself, and doing what makes you happy. It’s about ignoring those negative comments that others make about you, never body shaming yourself, and embracing who you are alongside all the wonderful qualities you have. While I’m still trying to figure out the definition of beautiful, you too can embrace truly believing it fits nicely around the shape of your name. Say it with me: we’re beautiful.
Featured Image via Aeropostale.