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November 27, 2019

The Journey

I was voted the quietest kid in middle school- like I legitimately got an award for it. It was a split decision between me and another girl named Mary, but I pulled through. The quietest. Now that I’m bit older I find I now have the courage to say some of the things I couldn’t back then, or wouldn’t. Either way, I have become verbose in writing. It feels safer to me to air out the thoughts my heart and soul have. 

We are on vacation at a place called Bocos del Torro, a small island off the coast of Panama. The place we are staying at has mirrors, naturally, like any other place a person would stay at. But the mirrors are all different. In some of them my face looks a certain way because the salt has gotten to them and warped them one way, others are hung low and only show my belly when I’m washing my hands, and others are tilted at an angle which is more flattering to my eye and makes me think I look ok. 

It got me thinking about all the lenses we view our bodies through- that I view my body through. Too fat, too saggy, age, ugliness… and on other days, pretty, young, happy, content. Maybe our perception is like these warped mirrors in this house, a figment of reality but not entirely real.. More suggestive than anything. 

When I was in college I hid my legs. I wore pants every day. It didn’t matter how hot it was. I wore pants. I could have been at the lake on the hottest of summer days – bikini top, and pants. My legs were always strong and muscular, but too strong in my opinion. My calves were too large, and didn’t match the rest of my small body. I hid them in shame. I remember nights in college when I would be involved with a boy and my pants would come off and I would sob, like ugly cry, that I had been found out. That these horrific things that have carried my body around for years had suddenly revealed themselves to someone I wanted to impress. Mortifying. 

When my grandma died my mom took us dress shopping for the funeral. I was in my early 30’s by then, and we went to Kohl’s, the place you buy clothes for school, work, and death ceremonies. She asked me to try on a short black dress, and I agreed, knowing that it didn’t mean I had to purchase it. I tried it on in the cluster of fitting rooms and came out to show my mom, bashfully. “You look nice,” she said. Just then, an African American woman with a glow about her like heaven sent her busted out of her fitting room. “Girl, if I had legs like those I would wear that dress every day.” I put that moment in my pocket and I look at it when I’m insecure, and remember that compliment from the beautiful stranger.

Recently I took a “selfie” in my car. I felt pretty that day, took the picture, and then studied it. My inner critic looked over my face, studied its lines, the placement of my freckles, the way my hair parts, all that silly shit. “I look alright. My lips are crooked, my part is strange, my freckles are weirdly placed, but my eyes are clear.” 

It’s dumb, that we can’t look at ourselves and just be content. That it’s such an effort to give ourselves the grace to feel pretty. I hate that shit. I want to change it about myself. I want to look in the mirror and think- she’s beautiful. I’m blessed that this is the body that has been chosen to carry my soul through this world. I’ll get there – I’m getting there. 

I realize that sometimes loving ourselves for exactly who we are and where we are at is a difficult task, but also arguably the most rewarding one to accomplish. So here’s to the journey of finding our way back to that place. What a spectacular day it will be when we arrive. 

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