Well, I haven’t written here in almost two years, but apparently 2am is the perfect time to pick back up where I left off. If you haven’t kept up with my life any better than I keep up with my writing, here’s what you’ve missed since exactly July 2, 2012: I came home from England, got engaged, student taught, graduated from college, got married, moved, and (barely) survived my first year as a 6th grade teacher.
Good. You’re all caught up.
Now, all that is to say, I’m totally a grown-up now. I have a husband and a big-girl job. I do things like getting the oil changed in my car and paying the bills on time. Never mind that I called my mom three times and my dad twice during the four hours it took me to sort out our tax return this year. Grown-up.
But there are some things my fourteen-year-old self really thought I would have sorted out by now. Like self-image. You’d think a twenty-four-year-old would have quit feeling the heat from media, perceptions of judgement, and above all, the desire to “fit in.”
Nope. Sorry, fourteen-year-old me, you’re still going to feel inadequate and awkward a decade from now. You’re still not going to feel like one of “the pretty girls.”
Okay, before anyone throws a fit, it’s not that I don’t think I’m pretty. I do think I’m pretty. But there’s just never enough of it, you know? I still feel the same way I did when I was a freshman in high school, like something’s clicked for all the other girls that I just haven’t figured out. I see other girls looking so much more put-together than I feel, and I think, Where do they buy all their clothes? How did they get their makeup to look that good? Did they seriously watch one Youtube tutorial and learn how to braid their hair like that? When do they find time for all of this?
I was in the car tonight having all of these thoughts that are so ridiculous for a grown-up to be having, and I noticed that despite my (probably unfounded) suspicions that I’m constantly being compared against prettier girls, I’ve never felt the need to spend my paycheck on clothes or my hours on Youtube mastering the trendiest techniques. When I focus on pretty, I feel inadequate, like I come up short. But when I think about who I am, I’m happy with what I see.
There’s a lot of talk about changing the way women think about themselves. It’s saying women need to believe that they are pretty. But I have a different idea. I don’t think women need to change the way they think about themselves so much as they need to change the way they think about pretty.
Why do I feel inadequate when I think about pretty, but I feel good when I think about who I am?
Here’s the bottom line.
It’s because I believe there a thousand things more important than pretty. There are a thousand things I’d rather be than pretty.
There. That’s ten things I came up with in about forty-five seconds, and I’d rather be any one of them than pretty. And I’d rather be around people that are any one of those things over pretty.
Don’t get me wrong. Pretty is nice. It’s fun. There’s nothing wrong with shopping for cute clothes unless you just happen to be like me and absolutely hate doing it. I do like to get dolled up and wear heels and be girly. And I do think I’m an average sort of pretty, but I’m really, really glad that that isn’t the best of me or my highest aspiration.
So if you read this and you agree with it in any way, leave a comment telling me something you value over pretty.
What does the world need? Pretty people? I think we can do better than that.