Caeley showed me this picture the other day and I died laughing.
I laughed because of a conversation I’d had recently with a friend. We were discussing the dreaded junior high and high school years (on into college, really).
I shared, jokingly, that I finally figured out that I was the proverbial homely girl others kept around because they automatically looked better next to me.
Now, I was kidding, mostly, because I don’t think anyone consciously did that; however, I never had the sense that I really fit or was liked. Or maybe I was liked, but was so awkward that nobody wanted to claim me publicly.
That sounds harsh to say, but I think it’s true. Every now and then I’d find out friends were talking about me behind my back, making fun of me or taking part in inside jokes about me.
That’s the cruel nature of the teen years: insecurity, and plenty to go around.
Honestly, I did my share of unkind things, too. This isn’t meant to be a pity party, though. Back to the picture.
I am that girl.
We are all that girl. Even the ones standing beside her with all the makeup, hair spray, bump•it (help us, Lord) and fake tan.
For most of us, it seems that no matter what, we feel like we don’t measure up to the standards. We’re too much of one thing and not enough of another.
But that is such a lie and it’s an empty pursuit.
You know what? I like that girl. She’s real, she’s smiling and she’s putting herself out there.
I’ll take a real person over the fake any day of the week. I’ll take inner beauty over the outer stuff every time. I don’t want to measure up to some crazy superficial standard, or do the work to get there, only to find out it was pointless.
[You’ve seen Toddlers & Tiaras haven’t you? The drama, the pain, the fake teeth, the money, the tears, the attitude. Uh-uh. No way.]
My new favorite quote is from J.R.R. Tolkein. Part of it says,
All that is gold does not glitter.
Not everything of great value appears to be so. Especially by our standards. But that isn’t how God sees.
There is gold inside of us and in people all around us. We just can’t see it. It gets covered up, we get ourselves dirty, people throw stuff on us or we don’t let it show. Sometimes we’re just looking for the wrong things.
But as they say, God doesn’t make junk.
He created us in His image. It’s astonishing to think that when He made us in His image, what He made was human.
Yes, we are flawed, but we still bear His likeness. It’s just waiting to be revealed. I hope to be a person who isn’t afraid of my own humanity, my own “normal,” and who searches out the gold in others.
I don’t want to live with a mask and I don’t want you to, either.
If beauty, fashion and hair is your thing, do it. If it’s not, don’t stress over it. That isn’t the point. If you’re a mom of little kids and can’t even get out of your pajamas some days, we understand.
If you’re young and going through an awkward stage, please know you are going through. It doesn’t last forever. And please, let’s give grace and kindness to one another. We’re all on a journey.
And to the girl in the picture, who became a source of laughter, I’m sorry. I think you’re beautiful. Keep smiling.