Do you love the sounds you make when you talk and laugh?
Do you admire your brain for all it acts on, filters and retains?
Do you like the way you look when you walk or run?
Do you appreciate the amazingness that is your physical form?
Do you explore your personality and accept those quirks that make you ‘you’?
If I’d had a mentor at that age, I’m honestly not sure what I would have gotten out of the experience. I doubt it would have been anything as deep as knowing myself better as I was pretty oblivious back then (that’s a rather major understatement) and I wouldn’t have even realised that I was scared to go within to explore what made me ‘me’.
Being ‘me’ was something I crawled through with blinders on rather than skipped through with my eyes wide open. It would be another couple of decades before I was game enough to peel back the coat of uncomfortableness I permanently wore, to really see what was actually underneath.
That was too scary. Too confronting. Too real.
Living in my little world of denial was much easier.
I didn’t really like myself much as a teenager.
I was awkward socially. Loud. Abrupt. Unfiltered.
(Yes, I can still be all those things!).
My friends, who really knew me, loved me just as I was and I absolutely adored them for it. But around strangers I felt hideously self-conscious.
I didn't value individuality at all.
I wanted nothing more than to blend in with everyone else.
I didn't realise back then that embracing my uniqueness was the key to it all. I thought - as many young people do - that I had to and wanted to, be more like Everyone Else.
I had no idea I was an introvert. Combining that with my Piscean propensity for daydreaming meant I spent a lot of time in my head attempting to escape the reality of the world I lived in.
The reality of the harshness of our world and the actions of the people in it.
I still do that now. It’s my coping mechanism. I have to believe there is more good in the world than bad or I would crawl into my little shell like a turtle and never come out.
Because we always think that Everyone Else has it together. We think Everyone Else never doubts themselves. Everyone Else knows it all and never makes a false move. Everyone Else totally rocks and their life is perfect!
Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely to be Everyone Else for a change?
I remember going to a self-esteem workshop when I was in my mid-thirties and when I walked into the room, I honestly thought I was in the wrong place because Everyone Else looked beautiful and whole and confident. Everyone Else didn’t look as though they belonged there.
At that workshop I met a lovely girl of about 14 who was there with her mum. We had to do an activity together and I told her how wonderful I thought it was that she was being encouraged to explore that side of herself at such a young age. When I was her age, I didn't even have the awareness that I had low self-esteem so I wouldn't have even thought about working on that part of myself. And I seriously had no idea who I was or what I really wanted until I reached my thirties. Okay, perhaps my forties. I bet that young girl now has a deep appreciation of who she is and as a result I don't doubt she is doing amazing things with her life.
Self-reflection is something that some people never do but it’s so incredibly powerful. It has been my greatest teacher.
If we’re willing to learn and grown that is.
This post wasn’t supposed to be about self-esteem or wisdom. It was going to be solely about our physical appearance and how much money we spend on our outer self.
I love how blog posts, stories and life take their own turns and surprise even the author sometimes.
I bought face moisturiser last week and that made me ponder just how much money I've spent on All Things Beauty-Related over the last four decades.
When I turned 30 I decided to stop wearing foundation make-up because my theory was that if I didn’t wear it in my thirties, and started wearing it in my forties, I Would Look Amazing! Of course, by the time I got to forty, I was so used to not buying or wearing it that I couldn’t be bothered starting to wear it again. So I’ve very rarely worn foundation since my twenties which has saved me lots and lots of money I’m sure.
I have however spent lots and lots of money on other things body-related.
I’ve spent a small fortune on my eyes.
I wore glasses and contact lenses for many years and then about ten years ago I paid the equivalent of what I paid for my first car (more actually) to have laser eye surgery. It was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever spent money on but it was an expensive little endeavour.
Speaking of eyesight, it’s no coincidence that our eyesight starts to deteriorate as gravity takes hold of our faces and bodies.
I have one of those magnifying mirrors in my bathroom. You know the ones that magnify your pores, wrinkles, smile and sparkly eyes five times so you can pluck those out of control eyebrow hairs you seriously Don’t Even Notice without the aforementioned mirror?
These mirrors are not our friends.
They are not kind.
They don’t have filters that soften our features.
They are harsh.
But you know what?
In a year’s time I will look into that same harsh, unforgiving mirror and wish I had the skin I had a year ago.
That is, the skin I have now.
So I decided quite some time ago that I would appreciate and value my skin as it is right now, because gravity will insist on hanging around and lines will continue to appear. My dimple will continue to lose its rightful place as the skin around it weakens its hold on that empty space on my cheek.
I’ve made a conscious decision to wake up each day, look in the mirror and be pleased with what I see. I’m going to love my older, less elastic, age-marked skin because wishing I had the skin I had in my twenties is pointless and lets face it, when I was twenty, I wouldn’t have appreciated my skin’s smooth, unlined, tautness as I would have been too busy wishing my eyes weren’t so deep-set or deriding the freckles which stood out and multiplied when I’d been out in the sun.
Sometimes we look back at photos and wish we had that skin again - or that body shape or that flexibility - but the truth is that we probably took it for granted when we did have it. We often neglect to appreciate our skin, our body and ourselves in the present moment. It’s only when we see them through the eyes of time that we finally feel their value and see their intrinsic beauty.
If I love my skin now, with its flaws, gravity-defying crevices and continual surprises, I will continue to love it for the rest of my life.
Here’s an interesting 4-minute clip of people being asked what they would change about their bodies. The difference between what the adults and children say is extraordinary.
I would like to end with this gorgeously gorgeous story.
What's Prettier Than Freckles?
An elderly woman and her little grandson, whose face was sprinkled with bright freckles, spent the day at the zoo. Lots of children were waiting in line to get their cheeks painted by a local artist who was decorating them with tiger paws.
"You've got so many freckles, there's no place to paint!" a girl in the line said to the little fellow.
Embarrassed, the little boy dropped his head. His grandmother knelt down next to him. "I love your freckles. When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles," she said, while tracing her finger across the child's cheek. "Freckles are beautiful."
The boy looked up, "Really?"
"Of course," said the grandmother. "Why just name me one thing that's prettier than freckles."
The little boy thought for a moment, peered intensely into his grandma's face, and softly whispered, "Wrinkles."
I just adore this story!
Embrace your freckles and wrinkles and everything in between.
Because ten years from now you’ll wish you had the skin you have now.
So why not love the skin you’re in. Every. Single. Day.
And love the person who lives and breathes within you.
The you safely enclosed and protected beneath your skin.
‘I no longer look at every reflection of myself and see a map of disappointments. I see vigor, curves and force, an organic tumble of sensual, sexual energy. I stand straighter. I breathe deeper. My heart opens.’ Lise Funderburg
PS. Part of this post is from a story I wrote for my Writer’s Group called ‘Love the skin you’re in’.