It was the first day of Middle School. I’d come from a very small elementary school and dreaded the idea of moving up to the big leagues. I was the last one off the bus that day and as I heard the door squeeze shut behind me I looked up to face my future, which, at that moment, consisted of a huge maze of classrooms, multiple teachers and what felt like a thousand new classmates. Talk about a little fish in a big pond! It was a lot to take in. For example, how was I supposed to get from my Algebra class all the way over to the science building before the passing bell rang?
It turned out that getting to class on time would be the least of my worries. What occupied my mind that first year were mainly my doubts and uncertainties about fitting in. Was I wearing the right jeans? Were my shoes cute enough? Was my haircut cool? Was my eye-shadow the right shade? Did I blend? Was I likeable? DID I EVEN FIT IN?
Like most teens, I had an intense need to win the approval of my peers; but that just wasn’t in the cards for me. You see, I was smart. And short. And, well, not thin. And for a girl, those were cardinal sins. I might have gotten away with short, but smart and chubby were unforgiveable (and sadly, probably still are). I found out that no amount of midnight blue make-up or the cutest Calvin Kleins would change any of that. (Yes, those things do date me!)
But happily for me, I had wonderful teachers who nurtured my intelligence and creativity. And I found friends who thought my wit and quirky sense of humor made me fun and engaging. I could be myself. Life was good.
I was one of the lucky ones. I learned early on that what mattered about me was what was on the inside – and this made me beautiful. This knowledge allowed me to believe in myself and my abilities even when others didn’t and to ultimately love myself just the way I was. Oh, I still slipped into intense doubt at times (and still do on occasion), but overall, I embraced my own beauty.
Here are three beauty tips from me to you that you probably didn’t learn in school (and won’t find in Vogue, Cosmo or Glamour).
1. Be yourself.
Being yourself means stop trying to be something you’re not. When you chip away at who you are in order to conform to the norm, you cheat the world and yourself of your uniqueness. Plus, it’s exhausting trying to keep up a façade.
2. Believe in your self-worth.
Society dictates that what makes you worthy is external – status, youth, money, sex, body image and romantic relationships. You can opt to chase those moving targets, but they won’t lead to lasting contentment. Instead, set your own standard and decide for yourself that you are already enough, just as you are. That will free you to discover what you truly love, develop your innate talents and live out your deepest dreams.
3. Love Yourself.
Be your biggest fan and stop beating yourself up for all your perceived imperfections. Try this: Every day, name three things you like about yourself. Notice the way your eyes sparkle or how well you parallel park. Did you make someone laugh? Focusing on the positive about yourself slowly shifts your perception and banishes self-doubt and self-loathing.
Learning to be yourself, believe in yourself, and loving yourself are things you don’t learn in school; and you know what the best tip of all is? Embrace your own beauty! #EYOB