I had a 32-year-old schoolboy crush on my creative writing professor a couple years ago.
The first day of class my teacher walked into the room and I thought, “Wow, she’s beautiful!”
Let’s call her Teacher Sara. Sara was classy-beautiful, in a brunette Heather Locklear sort of way. She exuded confidence. Her eyes glowed with a warm vibrancy that made it impossible to look away from her while she taught a lesson. Teacher Sara wasn’t just beautiful on the outside, though. The loving care and concern she showed for all her students made her inner beauty shine through.
Sara likes to connect with her students on social media. When we connected, I noticed pictures of her and her beautiful family. Her children looked like they just jumped out of a Gap commercial and her husband was a rugged salt-and-pepper stud.
Teacher Sara appeared to have it all.
And that’s why I nearly fell off my stability ball desk chair when I read an article she wrote for a local newspaper last week.
Sara wrote about her self-image issues. She said it had always been difficult for her to see her inner and outer beauty. She recently had professional photos done and said that the photographer was able to capture things that she had never been able to see in herself.
I was shocked!
How could this be? How could such a beautiful woman struggle like this?
But really, it’s not that surprising. It’s amazing how most of us struggle with self-image, self-confidence, self-worth, and every other self-word there is throughout our lives.
And isn’t that a shame?
Why can’t we live in a world where everyone just accepts themselves for who they are, warts and all?
I’d like to offer you three pieces of advice today that I hope will help with that.
Stop Relying on the External
When we rely on the compliments and feedback from other people to feel beautiful, we’ve already lost.
We can’t control other people. And quite frankly, if we rely on others to pump ourselves up, we’re putting WAY too much pressure on those people. Those expectations aren’t fair to them and they’re not fair to you.
We also have to stop the “comparison game.” Stop looking at other people who you think are beautiful and comparing yourself to them. You can’t be like them so stop trying. And guess what? The people you see as so perfectly beautiful are probably still struggling with self-image issues too!
So put down the fashion magazine and stop expecting others to pump your tires. If your feeling of beauty doesn’t come from within yourself, you’re going to keep struggling to feel beautiful.
Pump Up Your Confidence
I know, I know. Telling you to “go find more confidence” is like saying “go out and find me a unicorn, pot of gold, and a selfie with Big Foot.”
But confidence can be cultivated and grown.
Do something that’s worth telling a story about.
When you go through the motions of your routine each day, is that story-worthy? Probably not.
But if you do something that challenges you, scares you, or gets you outside your comfort zone, I guarantee the chances of creating a story worth telling goes up tenfold.
Go get uncomfortable. Walk up to a random person and tell them they’re beautiful. Take the first step in getting rid of a bad habit. Go dancing. Join a new gym. Try meditation. Climb a mountain. Phone a friend you haven’t spoken with in years. Tell someone “No” instead of “Yes.” Cut your hair. Ask your boss for a raise.
We all have comfort zones. But when we get outside of them and do things worth telling a story about, we start building confidence. And feeling more confident will make you feel more beautiful.
Reframe Your Flaws
I used to think no woman would ever want to be with me because I have a birthmark on my face. When I was in high school, I thought that I couldn’t find a girlfriend for that reason. My confidence was shit. I was the last guy in my group of friends to lose his virginity and when it happened I thought it was the work of some divine power who felt sorry for me.
It took me a long time to find the beauty in my birthmark. And it didn’t happen until I stopped giving a fuck what other people thought about it.
We all have our flaws. But if we see them as the hinderance to our inner and outer beauty then we’re missing the point.
Our flaws are what makes us stand out. They’re what make us different than everyone else and those flaws should be embraced instead of hidden and shamed.
When I started to own my birthmark, it didn’t bother me anymore when people I met for the first time said, “Holy shit, I’d hate to see the other guy!” or “What happened? Did a dog bite you?”
I’m not going to lie. Accepting my “flaw” didn’t happen overnight. But becoming aware of my shame was the beginning.
Your “flaws” make you different and diversity should be celebrated. It’s what makes our world beautiful. And when you accept those flaws and see them as beautiful, you’ll be making our world a better place to live in.
Stop comparing yourself to others and relying on external validation to feel beautiful.
Get out there, challenge your fears, and step outside your comfort zone to build confidence.
Embrace your flaws and own who you are.
You’re already beautiful, worthy of love, and an amazing person. Now it’s time to start believing it.