What I've Learned: On confidence and true beauty
|When I feel most beautiful and most free -- during a gut-breaking laugh with people I love.|
I was sub par in school. I performed average on standardized tests, I often fell in the middle of the class ranking, and always fiercely fighting anxiety, my participation grades consistently suffered.
I was sub par in sports. I liked sports. I enjoyed playing them, but I was cut from the basketball team, struggled to complete a 100 free-style and always finished near the bottom when having to run that damn mile in gym class.
I was not outgoing. Usually when you encounter someone with long blonde hair, they're outgoing, right? Those girls are always portrayed as the Regina Georges and it's the girls with the untamed bouncing curls that are portrayed as the shy ones. If you happen to have long blonde hair and boobs but are not fond of striking up conversation with anyone and everyone, you're labeled as rude, bitchy, and standoffish.
I was always a little "weird". I liked country music, I liked ABC news specials, I was friends with those who were friends with the "popular" group, but never really floated in it myself. I had my chair pulled out from underneath me and was laughed at on more than one occasion. I had a wardrobe from Meijers, Mervyn's and JC Penny, not Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch.
But as I got older, I quickly came to learn I did excel in one area though and that was my appearance. People would stare and construction workers would whistle and I received comments about my features. And after a while, a long while trying to discover passions and strengths but consistently falling under the average bracket, I thought bring it. I bought the American Eagle cut off's, I'd go for the skimpy bikini and then take those awful selfies and make them my MySpace profile picture (insert countless cringing faces). I relied on my appearance for confidence, acceptance, and validation. I guess it worked for a little while, as a long as something like that can "work". But eventually, inevitably, my confidence was pulled out from underneath me and I found myself flat on my ass looking for my worth, self-esteem and what the hell it was I actually stood for. And when that happened I began to hate my appearance. When I'd receive a perfectly friendly compliment on my outfit or hair, I'd resent it. I'd find myself jealous of the very girls who claimed to be jealous of me. At least they're valued for their smarts, interests, and intelligence, something substantial I thought.
It wasn't until in college, in a PR class, when I started to gain perspective and understand what beauty, confidence and self-worth truly meant. During one particular class, we had to give presentations for a mock company. As everyone, I gave mine and waited for the feedback. I got my well-rounded, full feedback, but all I clung to was one line: you're fun to look at. There it was. I was so hurt by the remark, I nearly needed to leave the class to mask my welling eyes. It was that same professor who ultimately brought me back down to earth and explained what should have been explained to me years prior - what true beauty is, what self-worth is, and what a comment such as that one encompasses.
Slowly but surely, my outlook shifted. I began to understand that the outward really doesn't matter as much as the inward, that we shape our confidence, and choose how we want to be seen. This has led me to not caring if people know that I enjoy watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians, that I don't fully understand the game of football but enjoy watching it, that I like Nick Jonas and Justin Bieber, and near religiously watch Live with Kelly and Michael and sometimes shop in the men's section. I do what I love and I do it unapologetic-ally.
It's also led me to second guess ever saying, he's driving a BMW so he can't have problems, or she's a celebrity, so she asked to be bashed on the front of tabloids. It's taught me no matter who you are, where you live, what your bank statements say that none of us are immune to being human and dealing with hurtful comments or insecurities or anything of the sort. I've learned anything less than embracing who we are and drawing confidence from the inside out is a recipe for unhappiness and continual dissatisfaction.
At 25, my confidence can still be shaken. Having such an emphasis on my appearance for a long time, gaining weight during pregnancy has been one the recent confidence-shakers I've dealt with. But I know what it means to love and be myself. It's a whole type of free that I never knew.