I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I can’t even count the number of times I pointed out my own flaws in appearance or personality, the number is far too high to even count. The list seemed never ending in my mind. As I crept closer and closer to thirty, it seemed like the flaws began piling up faster than I could keep track. From a new wrinkle forming every other day, to the dark circles that became more noticeable with every poor sleep, to the tummy that wasn’t as toned as it was five years before, the bum that seemed to look less and less perky, but the worst was my teeth, the teeth I spent years straightening through painful orthodontists. The one tooth that has seemed to drift further and further back to its crooked ways from the moment my braces were removed. AT first this shift wasn’t noticeable, but as five years turned into 10, it’s now a noticeable flaw that appears every time I smile. How awful – every smile ruined by something so silly. I can’t begin to tell you how often looking in the mirror brought me to tears, not over my smile alone, but everything. I could no longer look at myself in eye, or look at any inch of my body without breaking down and feeling awful. I was disgusted and defeated, and so very lost. It grew to the point that all I could see was the negative, and nothing positive was left in view. I was a shell of a person, my light had burned out and I was left standing in darkness, lost and alone. The view I had of myself was washed in darkness, my focus on the flaws instead of my assets disassembled my self-esteem little by little until it no longer existed. The constant comparisons to others I considered far more beautiful than myself, and the unrealistic pressure I put on myself to be someone else’s idea of perfect, was enough to destroy me at a moment in my life I was already weak, and it did. Normally my typically strong mind could pull me out of my ridiculous ruts, but the weight and guilt over losing my young niece had crippled my once strong and sensible mind. Without it, I was walking down a terrible, terrible road.
The way I viewed myself when looking back at that time in my life was awful. I feel sad and disappointed in myself for the way I treated the real me. I would never ever treat another human being that way, so what gives me the right to speak so poorly, so cruelly to myself. I deserve love, happiness and respect, just like everyone else. First and foremost you have to take care of you, which is essential to your happiness. So why in the hell do we treat ourselves like dirt? You’re the most important person in your life, you are number one, and if you can’t take care of you, make yourself happy or respect yourself, how do you expect to care for or treat others the way they deserve to be treated? Don’t think that I don’t have any insecurities left, I am human. There are days where I wish I put more effort into my health and thus improving the physical strength and tone of my body, but the changes to my physical appearance would just be a side effect of the ultimate goal. The goal is far more important than toning and tightening my body; the goal is health – physical and mental. I don’t think a number should ever dictate your health, your activity and fitness level, and a healthy lifestyle are what’s truly important.
We all need to step back at give our head a shake, flaws really don’t exist. We are all just different, were built differently, live differently, and have different goals. You and I are unique, and those so called “flaws” are what make you and I so very special. When making comments on my wrinkles, my cousin Shelley gave me some sound advice, she said “you don’t look at them (wrinkles) as flaws, they are not flaws. You have to look at them as something you have earned. You earn the wrinkles that have appeared through living life, they are a blessing, and they are reminders of life.” She nailed it right on the head. Every wrinkle that’s formed on my face is a testament to my life. I’ve worked very hard, had a wonderful life and it shows. I’ve earned wrinkles for excelling in areas of my job and working my butt off, for the sleepless nights I spent taking care of my husband and family, for the loss of my niece and the moments of strength shared between my family, for the stress training our puppy who is now a beloved and treasured member of our family, for the moments of hitting rock bottom which has lead me to finding true happiness and the real me, for the all nighters to achieve good grades in college, the long days creating and bringing to life the beautiful wedding of my dreams, and for the stress of flight delays and cancellations on my never ending adventures and travel around the world. The wrinkles are proof of the struggles, and the beauty of the adventures, lessons learned, and strength created from those moments. I have earned my wrinkles and creases, and I’m beginning to see they are a badge of honour and experience, and proof that I have lived a good and fulfilling life.
After my realization, I began looking at everything I considered flaws. Then I began looking at them as important pieces of myself, and the idea of flaws began to fade, until all that remained was the real me. Although I haven’t mastered this idea yet, it’s still a work in progress and a real struggle some days, but I’m continuously improving and growing. When I look in the mirror, that tooth that destroyed my smile for so long, I can now see as a personal trait as unique as me. I almost look at it with love, that piece of me that I see as different, but no longer as a negative flaw. It shows only in the happiest moments of my life, when a wide bright smile is spread across my face, or when I’m lost in a moment of laughter and pure joy. This so called flaw shows only at the happiest and purest moments of my life, and how could anything that comes to light at those moments ever be considered a flaw? It’s strange that I had hated this aspect of my smile for so long, as I get more compliments on my smile from strangers and friends, than any other aspect of my appearance, but like many of us, I closed my eyes to the obvious and stayed strongly focussed on the bad. I’ve finally grown to see my slightly crooked smile as one of the most beautiful and unique things about my appearance. It has become my trademark in a way, well to me anyways, and it’s hard to believe I could ever find something wrong, with something so beautifully me.
Please stay strong, look at the beauty that shines over every inch of you. You’re life is a blessing; you deserve to feel beautiful and be loved by yourself. You deserve to not shed a single tear over the real you, or the unique aspects of your appearance that make you more lovely and more beautiful than you could ever imagine. I think you are beautiful, unique and inspiring, and I will fight for you to see just how flawless you are.
I hope that tomorrow when you look in the mirror, your true unique beauty shines so brightly, that all you feel is love and pride. Wishing you years of health, happiness and self love.