Today I did something I swore I would never do. Something I tell others never to do. Something I actually judge other people for doing.
Today I posted a selfie on Facebook and apologized for not wearing makeup. Today I apologized for being me.
You’ve seen it before… A teenage girl posts a photo of herself with a caption that says, “Sorry, no makeup!” Or a woman challenges you to post a #NoMakeupSelfie. You’re scrolling through your News Feed and you see a picture of a woman who just got her hair cut, and she says, “New hair! Don’t pay attention to my naked no-makeup face! Lol!” These are all real posts I have seen in the last few days.
I’ve had a rough week, and I felt absolutely terrible yesterday. This morning was, well, tough. It was one of those days I literally had to convince myself to get out of bed. But my hair somehow looked awesome, with ZERO effort.
So, of course I took a selfie. I posted this along with the photo: “Not feeling 100%, but at least it’s a good hair day! (You’ll have to excuse the lack of makeup…) 🙂 I washed my hair on Monday, let it dry in a loose ponytail, and then I just sleep with it clipped up in a bun and I get these crazy curls. I used to HATE my hair, but I’m learning to LOVE it! (Especially how EASY it is!) #GoodHairDay”
Now that I’m thinking about it, I have no idea why I felt obligated to apologize for not wearing makeup. Because NEWSFLASH!!! I almost NEVER wear makeup! Seriously…the last time I wore makeup was January 16, because I was at an event with 1200 of our clients. That was almost a month ago. And guess what… my makeup is still in my suitcase from that trip. I’m not even kidding!
So maybe I apologized because I felt gross after being sick. Maybe it was because I have a giant, Mount Everest-sized zit on my face. Maybe it was because I felt like that disclaimer is necessary and/or expected on these types of photos these days.
But this evening, I realized what I had done and I had to write this to you.
I understand wanting to look nice. I know it’s important to put effort into the way you look.
But this has caused me to really think about some things and ask myself some questions. I want you to ask yourself these questions, too.
Why do we try to hide from who we are? Why do we try so hard to be like other people? Why do we try to become someone we’re not? Why are we so ashamed of our looks or our personality? Why is it so important to be liked or to be popular? Why are we so afraid of not being accepted, that we will actually change who we are? Why does any of it even matter?
I wish I could say it doesn’t matter. I wish I could say I am perfectly comfortable in my own skin. I wish I could say I don’t care what other people think of me. But I’d be lying.
But I am learning. I am discovering what it feels like to be happy with being me.
And I’m un-learning a lot of things too.
You see, the first time I had any concept of “fat” was when I was 5. My brother and I were laying in the floor watching a movie and eating Cheetos. When we finished eating, my brother laughed and said, “We ate the whole plate! We’re going to be so fat!”
I remember being called “fat” was in first grade. Her name was Brittany. We (me, Brittany, and the other girls in the class) were taking turns pushing each other on the swings. When it was my turn, I sat on the swing, and Brittany said, “I can’t push you. You’re too fat.”
When I was in 3rd grade, a girl told me I would never get married because nobody would ever love me.
In 7th grade, there was a guy in one of my classes, and every time I walked by, he said “Moooooo!”
My freshman year of high school, some kids in my computer class took one of the wheels off of my chair. When I sat down, the chair tipped over and I fell on the floor. All I remember is the entire class roaring with laughter and one guy, Kevin, yelling “You’re so fat, you broke the chair!”
That was the day I decided to take it into my own hands. That was the first day of a 6-year battle with bulimia.
I am terrified as I write this, because even though I have told bits and pieces of my story, (Read: There Is No Such Thing As Guilt-Free Food, When Being “Beautiful” Is Uncomfortable, and The Power Of Celebrating Your Progress) each experience, each memory, each thought brings exposes me even more. And that’s scary.
But I’ve learned something recently. My story is not my own. My life is not my own. That may not be my life anymore, but it is my story. It may be behind me, but it’s not forgotten.
And the truth is, though the behaviors may not exist in my life anymore, many of the thoughts have remained. I have owned every single one of those things people said about me. I believed them, made agreements with them, and have taken them as the absolute truth.
I’ve always worried about what other people think of me, and I’ve always had this fear that if other people don’t like me, I was somehow less of a person.
These are the kind of things you have to un-learn. You actually have to dig out those thoughts and beliefs, and replace them with truth.
I’ve been learning a lot lately. It started with a lesson on confidence, and it has evolved into something I cannot easily fit into a blog post. Someday you will hear the whole story.
But for now, here is the conclusion I have come to: You either like me or you don’t. I can’t control it, and I’m okay with that. It took me twenty-something years to learn how to love myself. I don’t have that kind of time to convince anybody else to love me. They either do or they don’t. But I…I love me. So I’m done worrying about what anyone else thinks.
I’ve been around a lot of people over the last few years who are truly amazing. They inspire me. They challenge me. They seriously blow my mind. This community and environment I am surrounded by is a safe place to be real. It is a safe place to be who you really are. And as I have watched the people around me just be themselves, I have had this longing in my heart to be me as well.
Because I’ve learned that there is nothing more beautiful, more captivating, more amazing than the freedom to be who God created you to be.
So be you. Be totally and completely, 100%, unapologetically you.