Some days I think I look ok. Instagram selfie worthy?

How critical of your appearance are you?

I can always find something of myself to be critical of. But how often do I choose to see the beauty and positives reflecting back at me in the mirror or camera? I do like myself most days so the days where I am not liking myself, I often see the flaws other people have made fun of or have been mean about. Are they really flaws? Or differences of opinion? Or could it be that I was just the recipient of someone else’s bad day and I am the only one who remembers what was said?

I have had someone say mean things about my appearance and have an opinion of me that honestly had nothing to do with me. I reminded them somehow of someone who had been mean to them so they in turn attacked me in a way I didn’t understand. My mind at the time searched for reasons for their hurtful words. The record in my mind replayed all of the similar scenes of the past when I was bullied and hurt for my appearance.

Suddenly I was that little child again. Sad and lonely. Hurt and outcast for things beyond my control. Being made fun of for being different…being the same so I’m a copycat…poor…fat…ugly…talking too much…wanting friends…wanting to be accepted…not being believed by teachers when I tried to stand up for myself against the bullies because they were the children of Mr+Mrs Important…the list goes on and on so *** insert so many thoughts and memories here *** to make me feel inadequate and horrible about myself.

The strangest thing happened months later…that same adult person who made feel so rotten about myself had gotten to know me a little and said I wasn’t like they expected. They said I was actually nice, friendly, honest and they liked me. They explained how I had reminded them of the girls who used to make fun of them in school as a child. My long blond hair and thinner than theirs body made them categorize me with all the mean popular girls who got everything handed to them, got whatever they wanted, and all the boys wanted to flirt with them.

Wow! What? I was confused. But I was glad I had walked away from their rudeness instead of reacting with my own anger.

I never would have looked at myself in that light for sure! I am the one who was made fun of, knew how this person felt, and I certainly never get everything I want…and all the boys flirting with me? Maybe a few there…but I would never think any of them are seriously interested in little ole me…

This person wanted to lash out at me on first instinct because in appearance from far away, they had put their ideas and beliefs upon me and saw me as dangerous. Best to be hurtful to me before I had the chance to get the upper hand. So sometimes it really isn’t all about me! Ego check…

When an argument happened between us weeks later, they jumped back to their previous mindset, so it was difficult to actually talk through the real issue at hand. The automatic responses they had turned back into seeing me with that lens of everyone is out to get them. Every disagreement became a full circle to that mindset and I could do nothing to fix it. We could work through it and get along again, but they still defaulted to that setting every time they felt unhappy with the situation. No matter how carefully I would tread upon those eggshells, I couldn’t fix nor avoid the lashing out of people who deal with such issues.

I am guilty of this sort of default to my childhood hurt and bullying cased beliefs when I start looking at myself too closely. I am a work in progress, but I am still worth loving. My flaws may not look like flaws to others. Or I may not see my bad behaviours and think people are judging me instead of them just trying to tell me my behaviour isn’t quite right. I internalize so much, just like children do. I am telling my inner child that it is ok to be me. It is ok to be imperfect.

I am enough. Just as I am. Good days and bad. I am worthy of love and I am enough. I feel broken but I am real. I don’t have to feel guilty for every mistake I made forever. If I am working on doing better and trying to learn from my mistakes then that is enough. I don’t have to look through that lens of self defeating thoughts and perceptions that someone once told me is who I am. Someone from my past doesn’t get to control and ruin my thoughts and the possibilities I see for my life. Those people only exist as memories to me.

I don’t need validation from strangers whom I haven’t seen since childhood. I doubt they ever think of me so why do I let their unkind words and deeds ruin my day so often? They don’t deserve to be in my head every time I look in the mirror. They don’t get to say what I will think, how I will act, what I will wear, how I will feel. They only say those things still because I insert their opinions instead of my own. They only take away my opportunities because I fear someone like them will not like me.

Some people use social media to try fill in these blanks too. Others can’t fix you by liking pictures…no matter how far you will go to get attention on screen or in the real world. Comparing yourself to someone else never is helpful. What you admire in someone else they my be wishing away just like you wish away the things someone else may find attractive and love about you. Most of the things I feel insecure about are things someone told me weren’t good enough.

Trends and styles change. People change. Hurt people hurt others because that is what they know and live. Change the story by realizing you wouldn’t dislike yourself so much if someone else hadn’t told you to. Who is living your life? You or them? Did they point to you and say something is wrong with you because they were jealous or afraid of you seeing their flaws?

Sometimes people want to help you do and be a better version of your true self and that is good. The rest is just not helping. Use social media as an extension of the world to learn and grow in positive ways. Don’t let social media use you up and spit you out with the trash that some people generate in high volume every day. You are worth more than one pic. Only you know your story. You have such potential. You are enough, just as you are. You can love you. Others can love you without the filters and pretending.

I am imperfect. I am me. I am real. I am hopeful. I am flawed. But I am trying my best to be me and make my life and the world a better place by helping myself and others one day at a time. Here is my selfie and I can find beauty and strength when I give myself the chance. You can too.

Tracey, GYST2020.

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