For years, I lived with this mental image of the woman I wanted to become.
She was smart, charming and successful, and weighed a good twenty-five pounds less than the number flashing red at me whenever I stepped on the scale. To me, she was perfection. I felt that if I could just look like her and act like her and live like her, I’d be happy.
It never worked. Despite all my striving, I could never make myself become that woman. I had created this whole other persona in my mind and tried to force myself to live her life and not my own. Instead of being me, I wanted to be her.
And then one morning, as I stood in front of the mirror, tears welled up in my eyes and cheeks flushed in frustration, it hit me. Clear as day, I saw how ridiculously futile my quest for perfection had become. I was never going to succeed in being the woman I had dreamed up ⎯ because she didn’t exist.
And furthermore, through all my efforts to be someone other than who I really was, I was missing out. I was missing out on being me, perfectly imperfect me. The me who was smart but had a tendency to act on impulse, thus making some pretty stupid decisions (that I always learned from, I might add). The me who wasn’t exactly charming but at least was relatable. The me who appeared to be a failure according to the world’s standards of success, but who had tried to live a life of loving and serving others. The me whose pants were sometimes too tight, who had a weakness for anything sweet, and who had attached the number on the scale to her self-worth for far too long.
That morning in front of the mirror was when I decided that I was going to be me.
And that decision changed my life. Never before had I felt so liberated and so free. The crazy part was that as I learned to identify and accept every part of me, the good and the bad, the weak and the strong, I started to feel more and more comfortable in the skin I was in ⎯ because it was mine, the skin I had always been meant to have. I took ownership over who I was, the choices I made, and how I lived my life, and I became empowered to make changes if I wasn’t happy with any of that.
It’s now been a little over a year since I stood in front of that mirror. I’d be lying to you if I said that every day was a good one. I still have moments when I step on the scale and immediately regret that extra cookie from the day before. I still compare my body, my bank account, and my relationships to those of the women on the television screen and magazine pages, and there are times when those old, negative thoughts still creep in. But I am learning. And I’d like to believe that the journey is much, much more important than the ending destination.
Let’s face it; we all have things about ourselves that we’d like to change, if we could. But what if today, you chose to focus instead on the things that make you uniquely you, the parts of you that are special and beautiful and downright extraordinary? What if today, you made the decision to accept who you are instead of trying to be somebody else? What if today, you threw those old ideas of success and perfection straight out the window and loved yourself for who you are instead.
Try it. Just for today, try it. See how good it feels, how good you feel. And then try it again the next day. And the next. Keep trying it. Don’t be afraid of the bad days or the weak moments. They will come, but you will make it through them, and it will get easier. I promise.
Reclaim the person you were always meant to be: perfectly imperfect you, full of strength and beauty and grace, filled with value and worth that cannot be diminished.
It’s the best decision you will ever make.
Elena Pellizzaris // self-professed word nerd who is frequently smiling and usually caffeinated // creative mind, sensitive spirit, and old soul // loves sunshine, orphan care, frozen yogurt, tattoos, and all things Africa // utterly in love with Jesus and spend most of my days serving Him by loving orphans in Liberia // passionate about people knowing their value // believes in the power of the written word, that people matter, and that love wins. period. read her blog and follow her on Twitter.