“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The sun was breaking into my living room as I was sitting at my dining table, viewing a video that I had just recorded for my Facebook group. It was the first one I took, two minutes long, and there were ten more waiting to be recorded.
I had just pressed the play button to see how I look and sounded, and boy, was I in for a surprise.
I kid you not, I felt like I was watching Gargamel from The Smurfs and not me. The only thing I could see, over the entire screen, was my big, bumpy nose. The bump was distracting enough that I literally didn’t hear a word I said.
All I could hear was my inner voice, loudly ranting, “Oh my goodness, look at that nose! Do I really look like that?! This is horrible! Hideous! I can’t look like that in all of my videos, I just can’t! Eeww!!” I was shocked.
I snapped out of it and thought, “I need to fix this!”
I marched straight to my bathroom, took out my makeup bag, and started searching though my eyeshadows and foundations like a maniac.
I had never tried contouring in my life. I had seen only two video tutorials, and thought “damn, that’s a lot of work,” but this was obviously one of those “there's a first time for everything” moments.
Trying to remember how to do it, I took some light shades, some dark ones, and started applying. Put a little here, a bit there, and after ten minutes of playing around… Mamma MIA! Will you look at that? I fixed my nose. I am A GENIUS!
I proudly cat walked into my living room, sat down in front of that blinking camera, and recorded a new video with my new, straight, slim nose.
It looked fantastic while I was recording. Then I pressed play to watch the video and was in for another surprise.
Again, I didn’t hear a word I said in that video. Then, anger took me over. I was disappointed in myself.
My inner voice kicked in again, louder than before: “This is not you. This is not the person I know. It's a nice nose, but… Where am I? This is not me. And what's next, are you gonna fix your lips for the next video so they look bigger?”
I didn’t care about my nose anymore. I didn’t care about the perfect lines, nor the perfect lighting. The only thing I could think was that I'm someone who encourages others to practice self-love, and yet here I was, in shame, trying to camouflage the part I didn’t like just so I could feel better.
This isn’t loving yourself. This isn’t embracing all parts of yourself. This isn’t living authentically.
I pressed stop and thought “Scr*w this!” Then I went to the bathroom and cleaned my face with the biggest grin on. Seeing the real me in the mirror, I felt pride because I could be me. Freely.
I calmly walked into my living room one last time and recorded the most honest, openhearted, all natural video. Me and my bumpy nose. I posted it straight away—the first take. No editing, no pimping. And the responses I got from them were beautiful.
I think a lot of us feel the way I did way too often, which is why I want to share with you what I shared with them: How to turn the parts you don’t like about yourself into your most beloved ones. How to love and accept them.
On days when you feel like this, here's what you can do to feel better and more loving.
1. Realize that you took the wrong turn.
My reaction came from the urge to hide my imperfection. I felt ashamed of how I looked and I wanted to cover it.
I wanted to look prettier, but not because I felt the need, like we all do, to feel great or look amazing for some special occasion.
Had my desire to put on makeup come from me wanting to emphasize my gifts, look a bit different, and play with my beauty, I would be okay with that.
But that wasn’t the case. I rejected myself. I told myself I was hideous. I wanted to be fixed. Like I was broken and there was something wrong with me. This wasn't the first time I did this.
For a long time, I was ashamed because I “felt too much.” People constantly told me, “Oh, you and your emotions! You’re such a cry baby!”
It took me a while to accept that part of me, to accept that I am highly emotional. Today I can say I simply love my emotions, good and bad. I made them my number one guiding system through life. They always tell me if something’s right or wrong for me and always help me to make right choices and decisions.
We can feel such shame. But for what? What good does it bring us?
If you come from the place of “there's something wrong with me,” know that it’s a sign you took a wrong turn—you turned to shaming and blaming yourself.
Realize that there is nothing wrong with you. We all feel like there is once in a while.
Befriend yourself with the thought that we are all perfect just as we are, with our imperfections. Some imperfections we accept, and some we use as opportunities to grow. My nose or wild mood swings, your smile or silly quirks, her lips, his chin, our fears, our dreams—it's all as it should be. Unique and perfect in their imperfection.
2. Hear the words you say to yourself.
It amazes me how mean we can be to ourselves. The words we say in our minds can be the cruellest. Would you ever tell a friend (or anyone, actually) “OMG, look at you! You look horrible! You are hideous!”?
You wouldn’t, would you?
If your friend was feeling ugly that day, you would probably remind her how amazing she is, tell her that her beauty is way deeper than her skin, and that you adore exactly the parts of her that she didn’t like (just like my closest friend told me “I love your nose!” right after she saw my video). Because this is how you talk to your loved ones.
So, why don’t you try talking to yourself the same way—like you’d talk to a loved one?
Look in the mirror and say something like, “I am aware that you feel ugly/stupid/alone/(insert your own) today. So sorry to hear that. You remember that day when you were glowing, and felt so good, even your friends told you, ‘What's up with you today, you are shining!' That’s you as well. Know that you are beautiful inside and out, whether you feel it today or not. I love you nonetheless.”
Go on, give it a try.
Because how you feel comes from what you say to yourself.
Start practicing kind conversations with yourself. You are a kind person, I’m sure, so I bet there are a lot of loving things you could say to yourself.
3. Know that it's okay to have good and bad days.
Some days, when you catch a reflection of yourself, your first thought is going to be “Oh, hello there good looking!!” And you'll smile, maybe even wink.
But on some days, you will wake up in the morning, look at your reflection, and say “Awful!”
Both of these days are perfectly okay.
We can't be 100 percent self-loving and self-accepting every day of the year and every minute of our day. That's life.
Loving yourself is a continuous practice. It’s a way of living. It's something that you cultivate every day. On days when you don’t like yourself, know that it's just that—a moment when you don't feel so good. It's not the first time and it certainly won’t be the last time.
Instead of adding insults and making yourself feel even worse about it, acknowledge it and remind yourself that it will pass. Perhaps blow your reflection a kiss. A kiss always feels nice.
Trust that it will pass. Because now you're practicing kindness and self-love (loving all parts of you). You're working on it. You got this.
4. Decide that it’s a matter of a choice.
When we reject a part of ourselves, we deepen that sense of unworthiness. Every time you do this, you cut the wound deeper and fall further into a hole of self-loathing.
I wasn’t going to let myself fall deeper down that hole.
I looked at my imperfect self in the mirror and said, “Today I hated a part of me and it was my nose. Now, I choose to own, love, and accept that part of me. Today, I love and accept myself just as I am.”
In that moment I felt immensely self-loving. I felt free from judgments and self-criticism.
Some days I don't feel that way. I say these words and I don't feel that instant rush of love. It might happen to you as well. And that's okay.
On days like those, you can say: “Now, I am willing to try to accept and love that part, too. I am willing to try to accept and love myself just as I am.”
I hope my story and this post will inspire you to start looking at that parts of yourself you don’t like in a different light—not to push and hide them away, or be ashamed of them, but to completely love and accept them. For I am most sure they are the parts that make you lovable exactly as you are.
Which parts are you willing to own, love, and accept today?