My first thought was: “Wow! I look so young and thin and pretty!”. My second thought was: “Why did I not appreciate this back then?”.
As I looked at photo after photo of myself with glowy skin (sans forehead wrinkles), shiny hair, and a thinner face, I thought back to those college days that were filled with self-loathing. I was never thin enough, or pretty enough. I was forever wishing that my legs were a little bit longer, or that my hair was a little less frizzy. But, you know what? I looked pretty damn great.
In retrospect, I wish I had stopped to appreciate the things that were “right” about my appearance at the time, rather than focusing on all the things that were “wrong”. Maybe my abs weren’t toned like that other girl at the student fitness center, but I had awesome skin. Maybe my legs weren’t the longest, but they were strong and toned.
As I contemplated all the “shoulda, coulda, wouldas” I realized that I still do this very same thing now. Instead of focusing on the things that I like about myself, I beat myself up over all the things that are imperfect… stretch marks, dark under eye circles, less-than-perky boobs… I could point out the imperfections all day long. But, you know what? There are also a lot of things about me that are beautiful. Someone just told me I had beautiful hair the other day and I’ve always loved my lips. My legs are still strong and toned even though my abs may not be. And those stretch marks? They’re like badges of honor from making a freaking human being which is pretty bad ass and beautiful if you ask me.
So, today I want to encourage you (and myself) to appreciate all of the imperfect beauty that is ours. We will never be younger than we are today. Our skin will never be quite as smooth and our hair will never shine quite as much, so let’s appreciate the beauty that is here today. And in 10 more years? Instead of focusing on the new wrinkles or added pounds, let’s just find new things to love, because there is so much beauty to be found if we only take the time to look.
You don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble. More from Lauren: