I’m feeling positively elated right now. Partly because of the fresh fall air. Partly because of the great coffee get-together I had this morning. But mostly because of an epiphany I had that took me from feeling ugly to beautiful over the course of 24 hours.
First, I must point out that I didn’t go from being ugly to beautiful. I went from feeling ugly to beautiful and there’s a big difference. The former suggests the experience is fact-based. That I am, in fact, ugly. But if beauty is in the eye of the beholder and my hubby beholds me to be beautiful, then I cannot, in fact, be ugly.
Ugly is … anybody wearing a swim cap!
It’s a fact. Nobody looks good in a swim cap. I have always known this. But I have never known this as well as I knew it when I looked at a photograph I had shared of myself in my Instagram stories — one of me sporting a shiny blue silicone helmet. I posted it because I wanted to share the small victory of having dragged myself to the pool for a morning swim; something I hope will become a regular habit.
I like sharing stuff. I’ve always been a sharer. While I tell myself that I share on Instagram and through this blog in the hopes of inspiring others, that’s only one of the reasons. The other is that sharing makes me feel committed. It holds me accountable. It forces me to put things out there so that they don’t fester inside me. It inspires me to keep learning and growing.
Sure, I could keep a journal but that’s just not the way I roll. I’m an over-sharer. I always have been and I probably always will be. Moving on …
After looking at the photo of me and my blue swim cap, I contemplated how ugly I looked. I was tempted to remove the photo but then decided against it. If I removed it because I felt ugly, I’d be contradicting the very purpose of my writing, which is to keep myself (and others, should they be inspired) focused on living an authentic life. And so I left the photo up for all to see.
With ugly at the forefront of my mind, I felt inclined to share the following thought in an Instagram post:
There is no uglier feeling than feeling ugly. I have always considered myself physically ugly. Sure, I’ve had good hair days and good leg days and good outfit days, but as a package, I’ve had to fight feeling ugly for as long as I can remember [blah, blah, blah]
I posted it along with this photograph:
Why did I feel the need to share the fact that I was feeling ugly?
It’s a fair question and one that was asked of me a few hours after posting to Instagram. I have to admit, though, I felt a little under attack — as if there must be something wrong with me. But I did my best to answer, alluding to some of the reasons cited above for my over-sharing nature, but not quite believing in them as I said them.
And then this morning, my husband expressed his concern about the post. He said he understood my desire to share but felt sad that I was telling the world I was ugly when in reality I am beautiful on both the outside and the inside. I explained that I wasn’t saying I was ugly; just that I felt ugly. And then things went from ugly to uglier. I removed the post from my Instagram page and the minute I did …
I started feeling ugly on the inside.
If at this point you’re thinking, ‘Gee, it must be tiring being you,’ you’re absolutely right. I’m constantly peeling away the layers of my mind and it can be exasperating — but oh so insightful!
That ugly feeling on the inside — it was the result of me feeling inauthentic. Not because I’d told my followers that I was feeling ugly, but because I had removed the post. Not because I felt it was inappropriate or untrue but because I’d allowed two comments to rattle my self-confidence. And then I peeled back another layer.
What the heck was going on with my self-confidence? Why, instead of simply observing that my friend was not an over-sharer like me, had I begun to question myself? And why had I not just taken my husband’s words at face value, embraced his love, and moved on as my authentic self?
That’s when I had my big aha moment.
Were it not for my inquisitive friend and my husband, I wouldn’t have come face to face with the real issue at hand: a decline in self-confidence — and I’m not saying that because I was feeling ugly.
Of far greater concern than my physical appearance was the fact that I had been so quick to remove something that I had posted just a day earlier with such conviction. Something that, as it turned out, had actually made an impact, which I later learned when a dear friend commented:
I think it’s ok to be truthful about this stuff and it’s a shame you deleted it. It’s affirming and comforting to know that everyone else isn’t perfect!
Peeling back one more layer, I realized that, not coincidentally, two key ingredients had been missing from my morning routine.
A couple of months ago I began to start my days with a little meditation. My morning meditation only lasts a few minutes, but for those few minutes, I sit peacefully with myself. When I see negative thoughts float into my mind, I send them away with a courteous, “thank you but you’re not needed here.” This ritual helps me begin my days with self-love. For about two weeks, I had skipped this practice.
I also began to build in time for a little personal development reading. Whether I’m reading The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson or The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I find that taking this time to focus on positivity sets my mindset up for a positive day. In the past two weeks, I had read fewer than a dozen pages.
For the better part of two weeks, I had failed to start my days with self-love and positivity.
And that is where the beauty lies.
With self-love and positivity, there is no ugliness to be found; only beauty. Be it inner beauty, outer beauty, or a combination of the two, I know this to be true:
That, to me, is a beautiful thing.
Viv for today xo
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