When I Was Ugly
I remember when I was 13 and utterly self-conscious of my body. I was a skinny, gangly kid with long hair, worn way past my waist – with sticks for legs, and my frame was totally boyish. I was a late bloomer.
The idea of wearing a bikini was beyond me. I was so painfully shy, I couldn’t imagine revealing so much of my body that way. I thought I looked terrible and everyone would be laughing.
I also hated taking pictures, and being captured on video killed me. I would never look at them again, and every time I did I was so critical of how I looked that I always looked horrible to myself. I was too skinny, my hair was too messy, my teeth was crooked, my lips too big – it was never ending.
Maybe it is that way when people go through their teenage years, but I took that feeling of self-criticism all the way to my mid-twenties. I never thought I was good enough and of course, everything that I saw about myself, affirmed the exact way I felt about me.
By the time I was in my twenties, I was too fat, my face too round, my eyes too small, my clothes too tight; that was what I saw in those photos. The reasons for self-detestation may be different, but the underlying story remained unchanged – I still didn’t like who I saw.
It’s funny, but I found all these photos and videos again now as I was house-moving; and I wondered how I could have thought that girl in the photos was anything but beautiful.
It was fascinating when I was sitting there sifting through all my old photos – remembering how disgusted I felt looking at them over 10 years ago, and marveling at the total change in the way I see myself now in those same photos.
The photos didn’t change. The way I saw myself changed, and that changes everything.
It’s my reminder for me that I see the world as I am, I don’t see the world as it is. And if I wanted something to change in my world, I need look no further than to just change the way I see it. That was a simple and powerful affirmation on how I, and I alone, have the power to change anything in my life.
And for that, I am truly grateful.
So when you find yourself criticizing – take a pause, and be a little kinder. There is a difference between criticizing and recognizing, the former terminates possibilities and options; while the latter opens them up for you to make a different choice. This holds true whether it’s your relationship with you, with another, or with the world.
Be acutely aware on how you are seeing, because it is your quickest indication on how you are being.