When I was younger, I wanted to be the prettiest girl in the room.
Now I want to see the prettiest girl in the room. Here’s what I’ve come to know: we’re all pretty.
I now know that beauty is not about the color of her lips or the curl in her hair. It’s not about the shape of her body. It’s in the animation of her spirit, the gaze from her eyes, the soul lessons she has carried through many lifetimes.
Beautiful girl, even when you’re hidden behind that pain you hold, I see you.
On those days when the winds of depression claim your smile, I see you.
When the sound of your own laughter elevates you, lifts you out of your foggy loneliness, I see you.
All those times when your insecurity teases at you, makes you want to crawl deep into your shell, I see you.
When you know what it feels like to fail wildly, and still, you get back up, I see you.
Those times when you’re dressed up, bejeweled, and intoxicated by love, I see you.
Your beneficent stride serves you, and I see that too.
I hope you’ll learn to claim your beauty. I know it’s hard, dear girl. How can you trust what you know when the judgmental glance of a stranger tells you otherwise. When does it become alright to wash off the makeup and look straight into their eyes?
Your voice is too shrill, your banter too trite. Nonsense! The sound of you is perfect. You’re the wiliest coyote in the room. Your humor goes right over their heads.
These are words I wanted to hear at 20:
When I was using sex as medicine to cure my wobbly sense of self. Forgetting myself, always; bypassing myself, this was my pattern. I never saw myself as pretty. I never measured up. I look back now, at old photos, and I can see that I was Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. What a shame I couldn’t claim it then.
I wanted to hear of my worth when I was 30.
What kind of mother are you? Working. Leaving your children to the care of others, so tired at night that you can barely get them homeworked, fed, and into bed. What kind of life is that? Divorce. Divorce. Now you’re alone to get these kids raised up. It’s so hard, this mothering. It’s so hard.
I see you, mothers of this new generation; facing COVID, navigating school at home, working and mothering, and working and mothering, 24/7. You may not think you’re doing a good job, but let me tell you, little sister, you are an angel. These kids will be strong. They’ll be good humans. Trust me on this one.
I wanted my mother when I was 40.
I needed her assurance. Breast cancer took her away. Now I was the matriarch of my family. How could that be? I didn’t feel qualified to pass on the wisdom of generations, but my daughters began to have daughters. I was a grandmother now. There’s nothing like holding the child of your child, looking into that little face to see the imprinted echos of your family lineage. God, please let me help them see the depth of their beauty.
When I was 50, I needed sisters.
I wanted to hear comforting words about my changing body. Women who have gone through this special kind of hell, please come talk to me. Tell me it’s going to be okay. They tell you about the hot flashes and the night sweats. What they don’t tell you is that you feel like you’re losing your mind. I experienced overwhelming anxiety for the first time in my life. My heart pounded and skipped beats. I gained weight, my muscles ached, and I had migraines. My libido tanked. I was now officially an insomniac. This lasted for 10 f*cking years!
When I was 60, I began to surface.
I was emerging as the wise woman. I could relish in memories of how foolish, and how wise I had been. My insecurities were just souvenirs of my past. I found humor in my seriousness and a sacred gravity in my lightness of being. My tea tasted sweeter. My image cast a radiance of beauty, a silhouette of great value. I came to love myself, know my worth. I could gather my experiences, sort through them, and quietly thrill over all that I am and all that I know. I could begin to offer myself to others, share my stories, let my voice be heard.
I’m 70 now, and I have come to know that I am precious.
We are all precious.
Our noble worth astonishes me. Dear girl, I hope you can see this truth. I hope you can carry it with you and celebrate it. You are, indeed, the prettiest girl in the room.