When I was growing up, we had this tape from a group of nationally known story tellers. I don't remember the name, but many of the stories have stuck with me and I still think of some of the lessons they taught from time to time.
One of my favorites has always been this story told by a woman about when she was growing up. She never quite felt comfortable in her own skin, and she spent a lot of her growing up comparing herself to her cousin who was known to be beautiful. One of the lines from the story was, "She had a waist so thin men could wrap their hands around it...and they did." I, even as a kid, could relate to this sentiment. I was picked on for being chubby from kindergarten on. And this woman talked about how she had tons of freckles whereas her cousin was fair skinned. I am covered in freckles, again, I could relate.
As a girl, the woman's grandfather would tell her she was beautiful, that she didn't have to look like her cousin. Every person was their own different kind of beautiful, and she was her very own beautiful flower. She didn't believe him.
So that summer, she sent away for a cream that claimed it was going to get rid of her freckles. She kept it hidden from her family because she didn't think they would understand.
She had a summer job out working in the fields near her home, so before she got up she slathered the cream all over her body. Then she went out to the fields.
By the end of the day, her freckles were much darker than they had been and there were more of them. When she got home, she realized she hadn't noticed that there was a warning not to use this product and spend a lot of time in the sun. It just about broke her heart. Here she'd spent all this money on something that she believed would change her into what she wanted to be, fair skinned and like her cousin, but it just made her freckles more a part of her.
Her grandfather figured out what had happened and tried to comfort her. He reminded her that she was her own beautiful flower, but she didn't want to listen. She told him, "You've never seen a flower with FRECKLES!" She cried herself to sleep that night.
But in the morning...she found a tiger lily on her pillow.
Recently my best friend in the universe, Nikky, pointed out to me that I really needed to have a goal, a dream, something to work towards. I have been thinking about this for probably about a month and a half now with no real success. I realized I no longer had anything to work towards. I have given up on most of my dreams because I am afraid to fail or because I don't feel like I am good enough to accomplish them.
Are you noticing a pattern here?
I am not good enough.
I gave up.
I am not beautiful.
I don't believe.
There is a pattern. And it is one I want to break. I have never liked myself, and it needs to stop. Today while I was at work I was trying to figure this out what I could possible set for myself as a goal. It's been driving me crazy and keeping me up at night, and people have tried to give me suggestions: get healthy, learn Italian (that was one of my thoughts), plan a trip, get out of debt, lose weight. All of these are good suggestions, and they do all kind of fall together at some point, but I needed one goal. Just one.
So here it is:
I am going to learn to love myself.
I would say like myself, but I want it to go beyond that. I want to love myself enough that I stop doubting myself all the time. I want to recognize my beauty and worth. One of my favorite quotes talks about how God didn't create us to play small. He created us to be fantastic and beautiful and powerful. We can't hang back and hide in the shadows. How could that benefit God? It can't. And that's not what I want. I want to be someone who knows her own worth so that I can, in turn, bring out the best in others. To show them that they are their own kind of beautiful too.
I want to believe that I am something good so someone else can believe that too.