I received a short message in my inbox last weekend and I can’t get it out of my head. The message read, “I wish I looked like you…”
I waited days to respond because I didn’t know how. What do you say to that? I stepped back and tried to think about what my grandmother would say to me if I were in this girl’s shoes. What would I tell my future daughter if she asked me something like this? This is the exact message that I don’t want to give off. Envy and jealousy are two very powerful emotions that I don’t wish upon anyone. I want to empower women not make them feel worse about themselves.
I simply want to say that I am sorry…. But I am not.
That little question has been on my heart and I feel that I should address it for those who think that they are ugly or lacking talent.
What we view as our weaknesses are often our greatest assets. Yes, this is something my grandmother told me when I was in high school. She used to tell me how boring it would be if everyone were the same and looked alike. I should take my differences and wear them like a badge of honor. I was lucky enough to have the characteristics that made me me. But in high school, no one wants to be different; we all fight to fit in.
Each of us is created from a specific gene pool and we have nothing to do with it. I am unbelievably blessed that when my mom and dad’s genes combined they gave me some characteristics that this society finds appealing. There are also some characteristics I can’t stand about myself and they used to keep me up at night. I am sure your parents passed down some great genes and possibly some that you battle with every day. The fact of the matter is, we have nothing to do with how we were made so why are we picking on each other for it?
We have this deep drive to be the best and our competitive nature can be a bitch. In high school, especially, girls don’t like to see other girls do better. We also don’t like girls who are prettier, skinnier, taller, have longer hair, have better clothes… the list goes on. I remember what it felt like to see my friend get crowned homecoming queen and not me. That jealous feeling in your stomach is also accompanied by the feeling of failure. I have also been on the other side of it. I was the freshman who made the varsity volleyball team and my friends were clearly upset about it. I’ll tell you, it felt worse to be hated for reaching my goals than it felt falling short of it.
Here I am, almost 30 years old and I still suffer between the feeling of failure vs. remorse. For example, during my year as Miss Indiana USA I received multiple private messages from girls from high school about how pathetic I was for doing pageants. Apparently I thought I was better than them although I hadn’t had a conversation with them since I tossed my graduation cap in the air in June of 2007…. 7 years ago.
I have set goals for myself and worked very hard to reach them. I did the leg-work, made the plan, and attacked each task on my to-do list. I find myself apologizing because I know that you might have been dealt different cards. But I was also dealt some difficult cards and we each have to play the hand we are dealt.
Our strengths and weaknesses are very different from each other’s. Some are more noticeable to the naked eye and some are hidden deep within. Our outer shells often don’t match our inner self. Someone may appear to be happy and confident but that same person could be dying in the inside. We have become masters at hiding our true selves behind 7” screens and think the world won’t like us for who we really are. SnapChat and Instagram filters are just new masks that we can hide behind. I, too, wish that my eyes were always perfectly glassy and that my skin glowed while a perfect halo of butterflies followed me around.
I beg you to put the phone down and really look at yourself in the mirror. Stop comparing yourself to your favorite celebrity and start pointing out your best features. You are strong enough, you are smart enough, and you are pretty enough. You aren’t lacking anything. God didn’t forget to add in a dash of this or that. He made you exactly how He needs you. So if you are looking in the mirror and feel like you aren’t enough, it’s time to do something about it. Set some goals for yourself and make a plan of attack.
You are enough.
So to the girl who sent me the message: I want to apologize because I truly don’t like making people feel badly about themselves. I want the opposite, and try very hard every day to motivate others to rise above. You don’t want to be me or look like me. I have my own battles and I was dealt some tough cards too.
We need to unite in this world of SnapChat filters and airbrush apps and rise above. Instead of hiding behind our screens we need to encourage others to step outside and see the light. Beautiful things happen when you set goals and you may never have discovered different sides of yourself. You grow and develop your mind and when your mind grows so does your soul. It’s like taking the scenic route and you discover something new that you wouldn’t have seen without taking that route.
We need to become a society of women who straighten each others crowns instead of knocking them off.
You are not pretty. You are beautiful. Because you are you.
You can follow Miss Indiana USA 2014, Mekayla Eppers, on Instagram at MissMekaylaFitness and SpilledMilkClub.