Inspired by...Beauty

Ahh, beauty, such a pertinent topic at the moment.  Today’s (Day 22!) prompt asked me how I define beauty, and right now, that’s a tough topic for me, because I’m having a hard time feeling completely beautiful.   Hang on tight, because here comes a looooong stream of consciousness, punctuated by pictures of myself when I felt beautiful: 


Superficially, it comes from spending the past year in Europe and having my “routine” a little altered — I don’t have my juicer or my blender, I’m on a different budget, and I couldn’t afford a gym until the last month.  And I know, deep down, that life is about living in whatever world you happen to be in at the moment and accepting that that is where you are and who you are at the moment.  This is what my life looks like at the moment, and I am still learning how to accept it (with 11 days to go, of course :) )  Honestly, I’m not happy with my body and the way it looks.  I’ve felt like that for the past year or so, because a lot has happened in the past year, and I believe that our bodies reflect what’s going on inside us, both physically and emotionally. 


Two summers ago, I felt fabulous.  I had survived my freshman year, I was working, I had a boyfriend who I loved, I was home, and life was good.  I was in fantastic shape that summer — my friend and I were running daily as she was training to run cross country in the fall, I was boxing at my gym, going to yoga, juicing like crazy, and I’ve never felt as confident and strong as I did that summer.  I don’t really know what changed when the summer was over, but that was the last time I felt truly good about my body.  My body began to change and it wasn’t significant, but I didn’t feel that glow, that fire of confidence that I had felt over the summer, and I haven’t felt that way since, no matter what I’ve done.  I’m not one of those people who “diets” and is determined to lose five pounds or something.  In fact, I don’t even know how much I weigh, because I’m pretty sure if I did, I’d start obsessing because that’s who I am.  I exercise because endorphins are my stress-relieving drug of choice and I like how it makes me feel.  But lately, I’ve started looking at pictures of myself from that summer up until last spring and a little part of me says, “God, I looked so skinny then!”  And I hate that more than anything because I shouldn’t be comparing who I am with who I was because things are different now.  But I do it anyway, and it always comes back to that summer. 


What was it about that summer, though?  It wasn’t like it was a perfect summer — my boss drove me crazy for three months, for example, and other little things like that — but I cling to it internally.  I remember how happy Dylan and I were that summer and how I think it was the last truly happy time we had before we broke up months later.  I remember going to the beach, long emails with my best friend Brittany, getting my new laptop, but I also really remember the physical aspects of that summer.  I was running a ton, which always makes me feel good, I had discovered juicing and was amazed at how light and free I felt, I was trying hot yoga for the first time, and I got to go boxing several days a week.  That summer, I bought my first two-piece bathing suit and skinny jeans, and I remember my mom saying how happy I seemed.  And I was, I really was happy that summer.  


I don’t know what changed when I went back to Fordham in August, but something did and I’m still trying to figure it out.  Maybe it was my relationship and how it started to drain me.  Relationships can be so good for your sense of beauty, if they’re with good people.  And it’s not like I’m completely dependent on people telling me I’m beautiful in order to feel that way, but guys aren’t that perceptive and won’t notice the tiny things about your appearance that you obsess over.  If you’ve got a good one, he’ll tell you you’re beautiful no matter what.  I used to obsess over what I would wear on a date until I started to realise that he didn’t care what I was wearing at all.  It’s an amazing feeling, one that I haven’t had in a very long time, which is so frustrating to me.  I’m not saying that relationships and beauty are a direct correlation because my relationship and my body didn’t go downhill at the same exact time, thank god.  What I’m saying is that having someone who thinks you’re gorgeous makes you feel gorgeous, and I want that again.  


The past year and a half has been a time of incredible transformation, mentally, emotionally…and physically.  Right now, I’m at this weird in-between place in my life, where I think I’m just about to break into the next phase of my life, but I have to get there first, and I think my body both emotionally and physically is reflecting that.  I try so hard not to be hard on myself and to look at myself in the mirror and say, “I love you” to the reflection.  But right now, I see a stomach that I don’t like, weird-shaped thighs, a chest that sticks out (want a challenge?  Find me the perfect sports bra that doesn’t make me look like I have a neon sign on my chest and doesn’t make jumping and running torture), and a butt that I swear to god I would give so much to be a tiny bit smaller, and, to put it simply, it sucks.  I’m finding very little I like right now, and I think some of that comes from how I’m feeling internally, as well.  All I can say is that a change is coming…eventually.

So what is beauty?  Beauty is how you feel, inside and outside.

Inspired to be,