I shoved my car door open against the blustery wind, willing it to stay open as I threw myself and my backpack into the car. I pulled the door shut and turned the key in the ignition, blowing on my fingers before I sat back to look in the mirror.
Oh, Lord. Whoever said straight hair doesn’t get messy is welcome to swap if they’re interested. My hair was flying in all directions, blown across my face in a rather unattractive fashion. My bangs were a disaster. My ponytail had an awkward bump in the back, and it was knotted from the wind.
I normally would have given myself a hard time for looking that way most of the day, but something inside nudged me to look closer. And when I looked again, what I saw floored me.
My cheeks were pink from the cold and the wind, and my eyes sparkled like I had stumbled across something magical. My hair was messy, I was only wearing one mitten, but I had never seen myself grin or my eyes come to life the way they did in that moment.
Is this what the rest of the world sees in me?
And woah, I look like a mess. But I look alive. And that’s awfully accurate, I think, to say that I’m messy and alive. I tell myself I wouldn’t want it any other way, but often I do. Sometimes I hate how I knock stuff over and trip and walk into things and forget important details and assignments I need to remember. I get tongue-tied and silent and sometimes people want me to stop listening and actually speak, and sometimes I just can’t shut up when somebody else really needs to be heard.
But then I remember, how many people love life as much as I do? How many people wake up every single day ready to give the new day a chance, even if being vulnerable yesterday really hurt? How many people crave meaning all the time? Gosh, not many. I am the very opposite of Apathy and Indifference. And all of that shows somehow, in the way my hair falls against my face and how my smile spreads from ear to ear.
So why am I telling you all this?
It’s an amazing thing to stop the self-bullying for a second and wrap your arms around your heart. Put your frustrations aside. That’s not your body’s fault. It has loved you, nourished you, kept you alive and running and breathing and living since you took your first heartbeat. It has been good to you. It may look flawed and messy sometimes, but it’s yours. So take a second to just put your hands on your stomach, your shoulders, your face, and just let the love shoot through your fingertips and feel yourself just live for a moment.
Now you might be saying “It’s different for you, you’re actually pretty. I spend 45 minutes doing my hair and makeup and I still look like I got attacked by a lion.”
I just have one question.
Are you alive?
If you said yes, then you are beautiful. Life is beauty. The only requirement to be beautiful is to be alive.
People will tell you otherwise. And you will listen. And your heart will ache and your stomach will bloat and you will wonder when did my jeans start to fit that tight? And you’ll feel frantic and wonder if other people have noticed, and you’ll hide yourself for weeks under hoodies and loose-fitting tops until you find the courage to come out again.
We’ve all heard the “don’t listen to them, everyone is beautiful” speech a million times, so I’m not going to repeat it. And honestly? It’s not even helpful. Okay, that’s great, I’ll just make my ears go deaf for a second so I don’t have to hear them. Because that’s totally possible.
The truth is, you’re not going to love yourself until you can respect yourself. And that will take time and work. But right now, put down the pitchfork you’re brandishing and stop sucking in your stomach and just breathe. Because it’s okay to be the way you are. Here I am, giving you permission. Be you.
Because you is crazy and heartbroken and funny and gentle and brave and messy and alive.
And messy and alive is beautiful.