Image can be a powerful thing. We would like to say that we don’t judge people by their appearances but the truth is that our society has a way of doing so anyway. It says a lot about us when we duck and hide from people we might actually want to see just because we think we don’t look presentable. And how do we even define what “presentable” means anyway?
Yesterday I went against what I believe in my heart and it bothered me enough that I felt compelled to share it with all of you. I was out with my husband and since it was the weekend, I didn’t think twice about going out in my old shorts, t-shirt and baseball cap. I didn’t take time to do my makeup because I was spending the day relaxing and taking care of some things around the house. I know I’m not the only one who does this but we all know there is that proverbial risk of being out and running into someone you know. As my husband and I were leaving the parking lot of where we had just eaten lunch, I saw an old friend of mine walking into one of the other restaurants in the same complex. We have wanted to see each other in person for quite some time but we just haven’t really had the opportunity to do so. It would have taken nothing more than stopping the car to be able to see her for a few moments. I told my husband who she was and he said, “Let’s stop!” I panicked and told him no, to keep driving. I knew she hadn’t seen me so I was still in the “safe” zone. When he started to stop anyway I told him I had far too much to do and didn’t have time to talk so we just needed to go home. The truth is I was too embarrassed with the way I looked to stop and say hello. As a result, I missed a great opportunity to connect with someone I care about very much.
If you’ve read any of my blog posts, you know I am a huge proponent of being who you are and embracing the people in your life. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you are wearing; what matters is how you clothe your spirit. I believe these things with all my heart and here I was going against those very beliefs. I must admit, I was shocked at myself. What is it that would cause me to so quickly and strongly avoid making a connection for which I had been longing? It was fear, embarrassment and a feeling of not measuring up. You see, this friend of mine is beautiful. I mean really beautiful. When we were in high school, she was pretty, funny and popular. She was always friendly to others, even those who may not have been as popular as she. I always liked her and considered her a friend but we were never close. It wasn’t until much later in life that we found a beautiful connection of our hearts which has become a great treasure for me. My friend would have been thrilled to see me yesterday, even in my “grubby” clothes and no makeup but I instinctively recoiled at the thought because she is even more beautiful today than she was all those years ago…and not just physically. She has a beautiful spirit and I have been blessed to know her and yet I reacted before I could stop myself. So what happened?!
Society tries to engrain in us an image of what beauty is and if we fail to attain it, then it means we are somehow less worthwhile. Even though most of us would agree that image is warped, we still have moments where it pops up and causes us to react before we think. Even those of us who are usually strong, confident and know our worth is not in our appearances sometimes fall prey to the images that society tries to dictate to us. We see someone who we think is more attractive than we are and – without even thinking – we start reacting as if we are in different classes of people. We think someone is more beautiful so we avoid being near them when we don’t look our best. We think someone is smarter so we avoid talking with them. We think someone is more athletic so we refuse to play sports we love because we don’t want to look stupid. We don’t dance because we think we have two left feet. We don’t sing because we don’t want to be made fun of. We develop a life that is fragmented and stressful because we spend all our time measuring ourselves by those around us instead of embracing OUR beauty and our gifts. We spend our lives looking at the gifts of others and wondering why we weren’t blessed with them instead of looking at the ones we have been given and finding value in what we have to offer.
We all have unique abilities, gifts and physical traits. We are all beautiful in our own ways and the sooner we embrace that truth, the more amazing our lives will become. We are all so hard on ourselves and we need to start focusing on the fact that we all feel “unpresentable” in one way or another. We are all imperfect but what a shame it is when we allow our imperfections to keep us from connecting to those we love. If we are willing to be seen as we are, even when we are not at our best, we begin to free others to let down their guard as well. And when that happens, we may be surprised to find out that they are just as fearful to be seen without “makeup” as we are.
So today I apologize. I apologize to myself for letting the madness of this world override the sanity of my spirit and for missing a wonderful opportunity to see the true beauty in life. And I forgive myself for it all and choose to embrace the beautiful lesson I have learned.