Tonight I saw a woman at the grocery store whom I hadn’t seen in months. I have missed her very much…she is the parent of a girl who used to be in the same dance class as my daughter, and this woman has given me so much support over time…so much encouragement. She spoke to me tonight as if we’d never been apart, and she remembered everything that had been going on in my life several months ago. I was amazed. Then, before we left, she said, “You look good! You look like you’ve lost weight!”
*sore subject with me*
I shook my head as she hugged me and I replied, “Well, uh…no, I haven’t.” And I sort of…shrugged, I suppose. Then she looked at me and said (in front of my husband, no less): “It’s that self-image thing again, isn’t it? We all need to work on that. You are beautiful. So many women would love to look like you.”
Riiiiight. Oh, sure, I just got a call from Sports Illustrated the other day and they want me for the swimsuit issue…NOT! I think my jaw hit the floor, because I wanted to laugh in her face! )
But after she walked away, I thought, “You know, my self-image is poor for many reasons. And I wish it wasn’t.”
Growing up, we all hear the things our parents say. Those things affect us. The things our peers say affect us as well. In a nutshell…I didn’t have the most encouraging environment as a whole. Never in my life have I thought that I was beautiful. Not even when I was at my thinnest weight in high school. (Even then, I compared myself to my 5’8, no-fat-on-the-body friends and found that I was lacking two inches in height and had about twenty pounds more weight than they did.)
But that’s not the problem that plagues me most. After all, outer beauty is fleeting (unless you have unlimited funds and a top-notch plastic surgeon! Ha!). My problem is that I have trouble seeing my inner beauty. I see the faults that I have, and I face them every single day. I am the one person that I have the most trouble forgiving. (Anybody else out there like me?) When others point out my character flaws, I am quick to agree. They don’t even have to tell me what they are…I can easily make a list. (A friend of mine actually laughed when I told him that, but it’s true. It wouldn’t take me long, because my faults and weaknesses are at the forefront of my mind at all times.) I am a perfectionist, and yet, I think I’m a realist, too. Which pretty much means that it sucks to be me! ) No, but seriously–having such incredibly high expectations for oneself and yet knowing you can never fully achieve those things because you are a HUMAN BEING is just…well, it stinks.
What I want to know is, when will I see the benefits of being me? It seems that no matter how many talents I have or how I use them, it just isn’t enough. People continue to see the “bad” in me, and I plod down that pathway after them, nodding in agreement all the way. I have been misunderstood my ENTIRE life…and abandonment has been a bosom companion. When will this go away? When will I just learn to accept myself for who I am and begin to see the good in me?
I think that sometimes as women, we are harder on ourselves than we ought to be. I don’t really know why this is the case. If you’re like me at all, then what do you think? What can we do to see ourselves in a more positive light?
And Gretchen, I know you have very little trouble with this. I envy you.