When I was in junior high my mom let me wear makeup. I was so stinkin' excited to finally get to wear makeup. My favorite shade of eyeliner was blue. Like, electric blue. And I didn't just put it on, I painted my eyes with it. We're talking colored the entire outer lids with bright blue eyeliner. I added to that a lovely shade of pink and purple eyeshadow, followed by gobs of jet black mascara.
Oh, but I wasn't done.
My favorite lip color was bright pink Wet'n Wild lipliner followed up with even brighter pink lipstick. It was quite the sight. We're talking "lady of the night" look here.
Even though my mom told me over and over again that I looked like a streetwalker, I paid no attention because I thought it made me beautiful. Afterall, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and my heavily painted eye said I was smokin'.
Fast forward twenty-something years and my definition of beauty has changed, incredibly. You can all breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that I don't sport the electric blue and hot pink color fest on my face anymore. But even so, I am not referring to looks when I say beauty.
Over the course of the last five years, my life has gone down a path that I never would have imagined. Because of different circumstances (divorce, chronic pain) I have traveled down a road that has taken me to some interesting places.
Along this journey, I have been graced with meeting (and reconnecting with) the most inspiring people. People who have come into my life at the exact moment that I needed them. People who have shared with me their stories, struggles, and triumphs while navigating through treacherous times. People who have taught me, motivated me, lifted me up, and encouraged me when I was feeling like I was drowning in a sea of never-ending, excruitating pain.
I find it intriguing how much I learn from other people's stories. I have walked away from conversations about personal struggles feeling empowered to face my own challenges head-on. There is great power that comes from sharing one's story, and even more power learning from others.
I have found that stories of perseverance, courage, and determination to overcome the demons that people face ON A DAILY BASIS are what make people beautiful, in my humble opinion. Demons that may have to do with unrelenting pain that takes over one's body, alcoholism, drug addiction, the mind chatter that says you are fat and because of that you are unworthy of love. The demons that say you are unworthy of love, just because. Have you ever known someone who WASN'T fighting a battle every single day in their own head?
I believe these battles are part of what makes us who we are. Throughout them, we learn just what we are made of. We learn who we are at our core. We learn what we believe in, what triggers us, and what makes us tick. We even learn from the battles that we lose.
Probably most from the battles we lose.
Often times, in those relentless banters, we are beaten down to the point where all we feel is hopelessness and failure. These battles intensify when our minds tell us that no matter what we do, it's never right or good enough. The question is, in every moment, do we give into those thoughts? Do we let them take away our power? Or, do we fight back? Those are the battles that scathe us with wounds that run deep. The ones that leave us with scars. Beautiful, brave, glorious scars that remind us of all that we've OVERCOME.
And then there are the times we come out victorious. Where we are able to sneak, stumble, or charge past those unrelenting negative thoughts, beliefs, or addictions. Where we stand strong in the conviction that we ARE good enough and we are WORTH THE FIGHT.
How different would the world be if we started looking at people through their trials and weaknesses? How much more willing would we be to embrace those around us if we knew they struggled everyday with addiction? Self loathing? Physical illness? Loneliness? Rejection?
How much more love would we have in our hearts for people if, instead of judging them for what they look like on the outside, OR how WE think THEY should be living their lives, we look into their eyes and allow ourselves to see and feel their souls?
One of my favorite quotes that inspired this post is this:
"If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies how very different our ideals of beauty would be."
- Author Unknown
Before coming to term with my demons, if you would have asked me if I was beautiful, I would have said no. However, being that I have come to know who I am, down to my very soul BECAUSE of the battles fought within the past five years, I not only believe it - I know it.
I AM BEAUTIFUL.
Not in the beauty queen/model sense of the word and not because I wear eyeliner and lipgloss like its goin' outta style. But because every single day there is a war going on inside of me. Some days I win and some days I lose; but, I never give up.
Next time you find yourself in a full-fledged war with yourself, or even just a battle, take a step back, take a deep breath (take a lot of deep breaths) and repeat to yourself, "I am worth the fight.”
You are worth it, you are strong enough, and you will get through it.
And that, my inspiring friend, is what makes you B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.