Editor's Note: This article first appeared in Issue 12 of Holl & Lane Magazine.
The wind blows softly through her hair while the sun casts its soft rays across her bare shoulders. Wrapping her arms around herself, she breathes. Slowly and deeply. The world around her clamors, but her heart is still. She lets herself rest, soaking in the beauty she is finally able to see around her. How far she has come; she’s learned to love herself without hesitation and comparison, without guilt or analysis, and that is what has made her feel truly alive.
Do you look in the mirror completely satisfied with what you see each day? Have you flipped through someone’s Instagram feed recently not once feeling inferior to the perfect life they seem to live?
Or are you like me? Human - and you’ve gotten stuck in a horrible game of comparison; trying so hard to fit into the world’s idea of “beautiful” that every day you’re running around putting on different masks. You look to other people for confirmation of your worth and for assurance that you’re doing it right. The kind words people say stick to you, and the harsh words they say stick even harder. They embed into your very soul. Whispering to you late at night and attacking you before you get a chance to breathe each morning, and eventually you let them define you.
I’ve been there; compared myself more times that I’d like to admit; compared achievements, looks, and experiences to everyone around me only to feel like a failure. Only to feel like what I have to offer is so below what everyone else has… that I’m ordinary. Ordinary. A word that settles on my skin, and sits there forcing itself deeper and deeper. My worse fear is being ordinary, yet somehow I’m allowing myself to believe that’s what I am. Often times I wonder what has made us feel like we can’t just be ourselves. Who told us we aren’t good enough just as we are that authenticity isn’t beautiful - that we should hide our flaws and cover our imperfections? Because I know my worth is found in Christ and that is who I should look to, to be grounded. Although authenticity is something I greatly admire in people, I struggle to find it within myself. It’s something I have to work at, because it’s not easy to be transparent, and I want to be able to say “I did the hard thing”.
Staying in a place of comparison is so dangerous. When comparison begins, I begin to lose sight of any truth or beauty within me. There are days when I feel strong enough to fight back, but some days I just give up, because, let’s be honest, giving up is much easier. I’m learning how to love and be patient with myself, learning resilience by failing, determination through pain, and opportunities through risks.
Life is truly too wonderful to spend wishing to be someone else.
It’s full of adventures waiting to be had, of new people to meet and inspire, of stars to gaze at and dreams to chase; of cities to explore, friends to laugh with, things to create, and work to do. It’s meant to be lived fully and fearlessly authentically. Fearless of what people think or say about you, fearless of the places your life will take you and the things you’ll encounter. Fearless of the world’s cruel words and unrealistic expectations of beauty and the mind games that it makes us play.
Who we are without any reshaping or changing up is beautiful; more than that, it’s the flaws that make us beautiful. Different is good, and the world doesn’t get to define you. You are meant to be unique, made to embrace your story just how it is. Imperfect, but so, so beautiful.