Disclaimer: The post you are about to read is deeply personal, almost to the point of self-indulgence. If such an approach distresses you, perhaps skip to another piece of content, and please accept my preemptive apology.
This is about my face.
It’s not beautiful – please don’t argue – and accepting its natural state has been one of the more difficult self-esteem challenges I’ve faced. But I’ve reached a point of breakthrough in being able to write down these thoughts, and I’m hopeful that moving forward with increased self-acceptance is possible from here.
I’m an athlete, a distance runner since age 13 – in other words, my entire adult life. I like my body just fine. I’m tall and strong. I have more muscles than curves and I weigh the right amount for my height. I’m rarely ill, I’ve survived malignant melanoma, I practice pescaterianism. I take lots of vitamins, sleep lots, and run and practice yoga nearly daily. These are a few ways that I take care of myself. Surrounding myself with kind people, laughing lots, and letting things go helps, too.
But all that positive behavior can be undone, too easily, within my own head. The capacity of the human mind to be mean and cruel is a terrifying thing. I like to think that it’s a sign of maturity that as I’ve grown older, I find it nearly impossible to be mean or hateful towards others. Just about everybody gets the benefit of the doubt, except the person looking back at me in the mirror every morning. Do you have to remind yourself, daily, to be nice to you? I do. The good news is that I’m getting better at it.
It was suggested to me by a dear friend that my new year’s resolution this year should be to smile more. That’s hard for me – even as a teen, I couldn’t stand to see a smiling photo of me. My high school senior portrait is pensive, thoughtful, kind of a half smile. My lips are pursed. I’m clearly thinking about something – probably how to smile without opening my mouth. I look like I might not be very happy. I probably wasn’t – I was too busy worrying.
The more I thought about my friend’s suggestion, I felt empowered to take the resolution suggestion one step further. I could smile more, yes, but I could also free myself of this ridiculous idea that hating my face is an acceptable self-judgement. Because it’s not. It’s the only face I’m going to have, in the only life I’m going to live, and I’ve already wasted too many great years being self-conscious and shy and upset about it. My life is fairly fantastic, and most days I wake up happy. I could show that more transparently. So this year, I will give up being mean to my face.