Recently I had a life-long realization in a Sally Field moment: I like me, I really like me. Before you lose lunch let me ask you this vital question: do you like yourself?
Throughout my life I have in some way wanted to be someone else. My earliest recollection was of the sixth-grade what’s-her-name that was playing the lead of Dorothy in the school play. I had tried out, all of four feet tall, shaking so badly that I put the script in front of my eyeballs and never looked up. Apparently, a short, shaky fourth grader wasn’t what they were looking for but consoled me with an obscure spot in the orchestra playing the wood blocks.
Then came Pinky Tuscadero. I can still see the t.v. screen as they panned to her pink heels, her hot pants and her red hair. Later that night I cried in my bed: why couldn’t I be Pinky Tuscadero, she had everything! I remember the actual ache in my heart that I was not, in fact, Pinky Tuscadero. She had the looks, she had the heels, she had the Fonz. Those were bitter tears.
Things didn’t fare any better in seventh grade. In our seventh-grade talent show (pre-American Idol), in walked an unknown wearing thick glasses named Molly. She wasn’t aware that this was to be my big “dancing queen” debut (think Abba). After performing my home-choreographed disco number with a luke-warm response, she brought the house down with “You Light Up My Life”. I grieved until high school.
What is it about women that we find it so hard to accept, like, and–gulp–even love about ourselves? It leads us to this cycle of comparing, criticizing and competing. Like the physical thing, our bodies. In If Life is a Game, Then These are the Rules, Cherie Carter-Scott writes “How many times has a potentially wonderful day at the beach been tainted by your judgments about how you look in a bathing suit?...Think of all the activities in your life that you have deferred until you look different, better, or perhaps even perfect.” Add to that how so-and-so looks in a bathing suit, two weeks after having a baby. It’s easy to look at the seemingly best in others and compare it to the seemingly worst in ourselves.
Accepting yourself means seeing the whole package and enjoying it for what it is, and what it can be. Gratitude gives you joy. When you see the good in your life, you are happy for the good in others’ lives. When they succeed you truly feel joy. Ms. Carter-Scott says, “You can celebrate other people’s blessings, knowing that their gifts are right and appropriate for them and that the universe has your gift right around the corner.”
All my best,
Mother of 6