Sometimes I wish there weren’t mirrors constantly around us to let us assess our looks so easily.
Because they sure can make a person feel unpretty.
It’s fairly easy to feel unattractive in this world, and this has been true for a long time—even before the many Instagram filters available to achieve that perfect pic. The feeling of being unpretty can become even more magnified when that whole dating thing is involved.
I’ll never forget one of the first times I truly felt ugly. It was at a middle school dance when I was in the sixth grade. I was standing with one of my best friends (who is gorgeous, by the way), and a guy came up to ask her to dance. She told him she’d only dance with him if his friend danced with me (definitely not my idea), so he went back to get his buddy, who happened to be one of the cutest guys in our entire class. The image that ensued can never be erased from my memory: The boy who wanted to dance with my friend was literally dragging his friend across the floor to dance with me. Homeboy clearly wanted to be anywhere other than swaying back and forth to some great 90s song with me, and it was seriously such an uncomfortable few minutes of my life. He barely spoke to me and kept looking around so that we hardly made any eye contact.
When the song ended, I went into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. Suddenly my hair was too frizzy, my face was too pale, and there were so many other imperfections that I hadn’t noticed as much before as I did in that moment. And then a thought bombarded my mind and wouldn’t leave: I wasn’t pretty enough for boys to like me.
And I believed it.
To be completely honest, ever since that middle school dance, I’ve struggled with believing that guys will ever be interested in me. There have been guys I’ve liked whom I’ve spent a lot of time with, and I know they like my personality and hanging out with me, but they never feel the same way. For me, there’s always only been one explanation for it, and it goes back to that dance. When my friends started dating, having boyfriends and then eventually getting married, I stayed single, and I really believed part of the reason was because they all have that beauty that I seem to lack. If I ever wanted to find a man, it was going to have to be someone who just really likes my personality.
My most recent heartache resurfaced some of these destructive feelings, and it turns out you can feel just as jilted as an adult as you can as a middle schooler when you’re in some of your most awkward and emotional years of your life. It’s frustrating because I’m pretty confident in most areas of my life, but this is certainly not one of them.
There’s a Bethany Dillon song called “Beautiful” that I think pretty accurately describes how many of us can feel at times.
I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart
And be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
But reading those lyrics and listening to the song carefully makes me realize that the beauty I’m seeking someone to see in me really isn’t just what I see in the mirror. It’s that “look inside my heart and be amazed” part that really hits home. That’s what I want. And as far as “worthy of love” goes, well, don’t we all need love? Aren’t we all enough as we are? If someone makes you feel like you aren’t enough, then perhaps that person isn’t right for you at all.
I understand that we aren’t always meant to be with the people for whom we fall. Not everyone is going to be attracted to us—and that’s OK. Different people are drawn to different people. It’s important to remember, though, that you’re beautiful to the Someone who loves you more than anyone else ever can.
There’s a sign I have hanging in my place that says “Be.you.tiful,” and it’s a great reminder that it’s best to be yourself and not try to change who you are to live up to what others think is pretty. I wish I could go back and tell my middle school self this so that I didn’t spend so many years thinking I would never be pretty enough for anyone. I want her to know that she doesn’t have to let others make her believe that she isn’t good enough as she is. I want all people to know that about themselves.
Because you are the most beautiful you there is.