I have this friend who is AMAZING! She is lovely — to use her most favorite words. This friend is creative and funny and interesting. She has led a life that is full of broken families and relationships and she has risen above it. She is not bitter or resentful. She is open and honest and kind and has a generous heart and spirit. She is an incredible single mother to her son who she loves fiercely and completely. She runs a successful business and is consistently growing in creativity and building a future for herself in totally unchartered territory. She is also gorgeous! Her hair is perfect and her skin is amazing and she is always dressed so nicely. She is the friend that usually makes me feel like I am a total mess because half the time, I am in sweats with a ponytail that is strategically positioned to cover my roots that are in desperate need of a touch-up. She is so many things that I aspire to be, and I am blessed to have her in my life.
The other evening, we were out for a much-needed Girls Night. She mentioned that she was using an online dating app and that she was talking to a guy who was interested her. During the evening, she was texting him periodically, and she was literally obsessed with wondering if he would like her because she was “fat” — her words; not mine. My jaw hit the floor! This woman is so many things and so many WONDERFUL things, and she was sitting there overwrought with the fact that this guy (who already saw her full-length picture) was going to dislike her because of her weight. This bothered me, and it motivated me to write this.
I love this woman and I love that she was honest about her insecurities. Because let’s be real, how long does it take us to even be able to identify what the heck our insecurities even are. We spend years of books and audiobooks and videos and therapy to even get to what our issues are, and this wonderful lady had the knowledge and openness to just toss it out there like a napkin when you get up to use the ladies room. WOW! I am not this type of person. I dance around stuff. I don’t want to admit things to myself — never mind to people sitting around a table eating crab dip. Not her! She just said it, and I thought, “How can this woman who is so many incredible things and who knows and says her biggest insecurities worry about anything? And why does she care if this guy who she only knows through a screen doesn’t like her?”
I went home, and this played on my mind. I was bewildered. I would think of how amazing she is and wonder why the opinion of a guy she didn’t even know existed a week ago meant more to her than all of her good qualities and accomplishments. Then I started to get honest with myself, and I realized that this is ALL of us. We are all so many things. We are moms and business people and volunteers and artists and runners and entrepreneurs. We hold down households and raise kids. We juggle a million things and make impacts we do not even fully realize. And then, there is that one thing. That one insecurity that we just cannot get past. That one thing that we are so worried people will use to discredit us or dislike us. As much as I wanted to tell her “good riddance if he doesn’t like all that you are because of your weight,” I also knew that I myself could not feel that way if the table were turned.
We all do this. We worry so much about what other people think. We know all the good things we are, and we let that one thing that we feel is “wrong” with us define so much of us. We let all that amazingness about ourselves slip away because of one comment or one argument or one glance. We erase everything we have done or things that we could do and become nothing in our own minds to honor whatever weaknesses we have. Why? Why do we do this? Who taught us this? Why do we allow this? Why did I sit across from this amazing person and have to wonder why she is worried about being liked not for who she is and what she is but because of one facet of how she looks?
And let’s be clear here! I know A LOT of people who are JERKS! (I would use other words but I am trying to clean up my vocabulary.) These are people who I seriously DO NOT want myself or my kids around AT ALL. It would not matter to me if they were a size 20 or a size 2. I would not care if they had tons of money or looked like Rob Lowe. These people are AWFUL. Their souls are ugly. We all know these people, and we all have people in our lives who we do not at all care what they look like because we do not want to be around them AT ALL.
We also have people we love NO MATTER WHAT. We love them through weight loss and weigh gain and through losing their hair because of chemo. We have people who we love if they cannot walk anymore because of an accident or talk anymore because of a stroke. We love people when they are 50 lbs heavier during a pregnancy, and we love people as they have puffy and tear stained faces from crying over a miscarriage. At the end of the day, we do not really care a ton about how the people we love look. We see them all cleaned up and looking their best and we love them. We also see them at their worst (like vomiting from having the flu) and we love them. I think we all need to REALLY know this. We are not our imperfections or our insecurities — we are more than all of that and we are beautiful and incredible to many, many people. There are people in our lives who think much more of us than we even realize, and we may never actually know it too.
I do not think my friend knew that I thought of her as all the things that I told her she was last night. Seriously, when do we sit down and tell each other, “Oh I think you’re gorgeous and successful and funny and all around amazing?” We don’t say that because that’s considered a little “weird” to say over cocktails on a Thursday night. But maybe we need to! Maybe we need to spend some time with our friends and instead of bitching about how much we hate laundry, we need to say, “Hey! The fact that you manage to get out the door with full makeup by 8:00 a.m. every day and have your kids looking great is INCREDIBLE to me and I want you to know that I respect and admire that and I wish that I could make that happen in my life.” I am sure some of you reading this might do this, but I also know that most of us don’t. And I know that even if we are doing it, we need to do it more.
And why aren’t we doing this? Because we are too worried about the ponytail that isn’t covering the need for a root job not being properly placed. We are too busy worrying about our own insecurities to even think about mentioning anything more than, “hey, I like your shoes” to that mom running past us — if we say anything at all or if we even look at her.
So the next time that you are feeling some tug towards negativity and insecurity, take a minute and remember that you are SOOOOO much more than whatever you are focusing on. Also remember that you have people around you who know this and who love you NO MATTER WHAT. And as you grow and move through life, you will meet more people who will see so much of what you are and love and admire that too. Let yourself shine no matter what you are feeling inside. Do not become only that one weakness — remember all that you are!
Amy Hlavaty Belcher owns and operates a dance studio in Northeast PA where she also serves on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit. She is the single mother of 2 boys – ages 9 & 1.