Yasmine Bleeth was my standard of physical beauty in the 90’s. I thought she had the most gorgeous eyes, heart shaped face, other “voluptuous assets” which I would never have, but the feature I coveted most was her hair. Everyone back then wanted Jennifer Aniston’s sleek honey blonde locks. I wanted Yasmine Bleeth’s dark, layered, beachy waves.
When I was in high school, I found a picture of Yasmine in a magazine with her bangs cut long to her chin and I thought, “I can do that!” So I grabbed a pair of scissors and chopped wide chunks of my hair off right at my chin. Now, please bear in mind, I was fifteen, not five, in this impulsive decision. I was at the peak of social awkwardness and a bad haircut could actually ruin your life at that age. But I’d gone and done it.
I immediately felt light-headed and nauseous. When I went to my mom to show her what I’d done, she gasped, “What did you do to your hair?” I burst into tears and tried to explain how I’d basically ended my life in two snips.
Again, this is one of those stories that has been told in my family many times over and now has the stamp of “ridiculously hilarious” attached to it. But I share it here to explain to you a deeper lesson besides, “never cut your own hair unless you are a professional.” The other wisdom I hope to impart on you is, don’t ever try to achieve someone else’s standard of outward or inner beauty.
Going back to the theme of building yourself up by surrounding yourself with positivity, this means realizing that your life is only yours to live. The idealistic images you are constantly being exposed to are not the template for your life. When we look through People magazine or browse Facebook or Instagram or any other form of social media, we are flooded with images of people living lives of glamour and perfection. And while each tries to somehow have you believe their lives are so happy and carefree, please know they are probably carrying as much junk around in their hearts as you are, maybe more.
Conversely, it’s not really about comparing yourself in such a way that makes you feel like you’re winning by having your proverbial poop-in-a-group more than Hot-Mess-Hilda next-door. It’s about staying in your lane, focusing on yourself and not worrying about what everyone else has going on. It’s about hoping the best for others, while not allowing their situations to affect your own. It’s about not passing judgement on others or trying to make yourself feel better by telling yourself, “At least I’m not as screwed up as _______.” Because the truth is, we’re all succeeding and failing at the same time. No one has life figured out completely. We’re all just waking up hoping to understand it a little better each day.
This week, for our Summer Beautification Program, I would like you to take ten minutes to reflect, meditate or pray. Make a list of three to five people who you find you’re often comparing yourself to. Think about each one in turn for a few minutes and examine the relationship they have to you. Offer a quiet intention of acceptance and gratitude for them, wish them well and allow yourself to let go of the expectations that they cause you to feel about yourself, good or bad.
Now take another five minutes (set a timer if you need to) and zero in on your own life. Remove any measurements of comparison…
Thank God (or the universe or whatever it is you believe in) that you have the life you have. Give thanks for your challenges, because they make you stronger in who you are becoming. Give thanks for the failures you’ve experienced because failure is the best teacher. Give thanks for your triumphs and successes, because those things are not only born from your hard work and talent, they are also divine gifts that are being presented to you so you understand that there is goodness to be achieved if you act with love.
We often underestimate the importance of prayer and/or meditation. This is how we connect our body, mind, and soul. This is how we honor everything we are. We get so busy in our everyday “doing,” that we forget to allow ourselves time to be still to just exist contentedly. We are enough being exactly who we are in this moment, without trying to be more in the next.
I have learned, I will never be Yasmine Bleeth or my new modern heroine, Joanna Gaines. And that’s ok. I can still admire successful people without being envious of them. I can be happy for them and realize that their success doesn’t detract from my own. I am exactly who I need to be. God is giving me my own lessons. God is giving me my own path to walk that doesn’t look like anyone else’s. And he’s doing the same for you.