It’s late. I’m tired. But the weirdest thing happened today.
3 of the most attractive people of my acquaintance broke down and told me how insecure they felt about not being beautiful and not feeling loved. Three. And they’re all gorgeous. They weren’t all girls either. I had no intention of talking about anything as personal as our self-image. I don’t think any of us did.
The oddest thing, was that these were three separate one-on-one interactions. It wasn’t even some sort of mass cry of whatever. And I’m left with this really confused feeling about what the heck is wrong with our generation that nearly every single person of my acquaintance feels the same way. I have yet to meet a college kid who thinks they’re perfect just the way they are. Heck, I have yet to meet someone who thinks they’re ok. Usually they secretly feel like something is wrong with them. And that’s fundamentally, indescribably wrong.
The first was an incredibly attractive guy I know. He has girls who literally swoon over him. When he first started talking about how low he was feeling that no one was even remotely interested in him I thought he was kidding. Literally. I think I even started to smile. But I decided to humor him (even the gods have bad days I suppose), looked him in the eyes and told him the truth. That just about every girl in our mutual acquaintance was head over heels for him at some point in the past year alone. He was shocked. And he then proceeded to say that wasn’t something anyone had told him before. The other guy at our table got really sad and said he wished someone would tell him that at some point. Oh my gosh, that makes four people in one day. What is going on.
The second (third now) was a girl I don’t know that well, other than she is beautiful, vivacious, and I was very, very jealous of her as a freshman. When she said she had never been the type of girl to get all the guys… I don’t know. I had no idea other people felt that way. She just never felt beautiful, or had people in her life tell her that. I didn’t get the chance to tell her otherwise, but luckily there were a couple other friends who did it for me. But mostly we just listened. I think sometimes thats more healing than actually giving any advice.
The fourth was a dear, dear friend. And she was the hardest. Because sometimes, when people tell you these pains that are rooted so deep down in their souls, you get afraid nothing you say will make them believe otherwise. Especially if you know them well. So I told her that even though right now she can’t see it, I love and see all the wonderful things about her. That she is kind, and I care about her so much. And that she is absolutely beautiful. But that was almost an afterthought, because I’ve told her that before and I’m not sure if she’ll ever believe it. It just happens to be true. The most unbelievable things generally seem to be.
When people used to tell me these things I would get pissed off. Because I could see the truth so clearly and they had no right to complain to a person so much more repulsive than themselves. But I’ve come to terms with THAT, and realized that kind of perpetuated the problem. So I’ve started to leave out the part about me being ugly-KIDDING. But seriously, I felt the exact same way. And I have no idea why.
I actually don’t feel that way anymore. I can acknowledge than I am not traditionally beautiful, but I like myself. I don’t repulse men, and saying anything else is blatantly ignoring my father and brothers every time they have complimented me while growing up. And they are the dearest men in my life, so if I can’t believe them who can I believe? But that wasn’t enough to change my mind. Something else had to happen first.
This is personal, and isn’t something I’m used to doing. Or talking about really. Which is stupid, because it’s one of the most important things to me, that is, my relationship with God. I’m not trying to preach to you, but I have a habit of being honest. And to leave this out would be lying to you my dear readers.
I never thought of myself as attractive. This is (as shown today) rather common. But when I became sick with POTS I went through the usual transformation. My perfect skin became acne-ridden again and I gained 25 lbs. Which seemed pretty unfair for someone who was on the swim team, a vegetarian, and suddenly very ill. I didn’t do anything to deserve it, but my health (and all the appearances of it) suddenly went away as if on a mere whim. The thing about gaining weight when you have POTS, is that you can’t lose it. Your metabolism literally slows down. Plus, you’re too weak to just “work it off”. Do you know how much of a luxury it is to feel well enough to exercise? Blarg, thats for another ranting post : ) As for the acne, I had had it most of my adolescence, but it had largely vanished by the time I turned 17. I was way too sick to be put on any medicine that might mess with my system, especially since they didn’t know WHAT part of me was making me sick. So aesthetically speaking, I just had to deal with it. Which seemed hideously unfair. When you feel ill, LOOK ill, and even the scale is mocking you it just doesn’t seem fair. So this is why when people complained about their problems I got a little cranky. I’d like to issue an apology now, it was due to circumstances outside of my control.
All through this time I was pissed at God. Royally pissed. He took everything away from me, and then left me to die. Emotionally, physically, mentally, I was fried. You guys know what POTS does to you. No human being should have to go through what we go through with. All those years of praying for Pie to get better, and he had rewarded me by making me just as ill. And taking away everything that had ever made me feel good about myself. My ability to think and perform well academically, my athletic prowess, witty banter, everything. Even my normally calm demeanor was wrecked. Anxiety and depression is pretty common among us, I was no exception.
But something changed. About two years in I began to see the blessings God had put in life that I hadn’t seen at first. Like that because of my diagnosis, Pie got diagnosed. My years of prayer had been answered, just not in the way I wanted. And how instead of going to an Ivy league school, I ended up on the West coast where I am EXACTLY where I was meant to be. It didn’t feed my ego like a ranked school would, but thats definitely a good thing. I thought I was all that and a bag of chips in high school. I don’t think I would have decided to go into anthropology either if I were somewhere else. I’d still be busting my butt on the biology track and hating myself for my own inadequacy instead of rejoicing in my love of learning like I am now. That was definitely a run on sentence. My apologies. So I tentatively began to spend time talking to God again. Actually, that’s a lie. I didn’t do squat. Some of my dearest friends literally ran into me while playing capture the flag and asked me to join their youth group. I did, kind of on spur of the moment. That youth group has been a source of strength and infinite joy for me. Talking together about our problems with God, wrestling with them, and then asking God to help us get to know him better was a really weird journey. And at some point, I realized that my life was so much richer here, sick, than it was when I was well. Because I can see how I am blessed, and how incandescently happy I am in comparison.
So I love my God. I love going outside and knowing I have an intimate, loving relationship with the creator of the universe. And that is possibly the most awkward and nerdiest thing I have ever said on the internet. But I get to know that he doesn’t just have a plan for me, (you thought thats what I was going to say didn’t you, suckers) but is actively using me to love other people. That makes me happy. That is what heals me. That love and profound appreciation for my God who uses a sick kid. I’m frankly useless, so I know all good things that come out of me are not innately my own. It’s hard to explain, but you just have to trust me.
So I am content. I just happen to get my worth from an otherworldly source. I’m not anxious or depressed anymore, mainly because I know I’m not in control. Someone else is, thank God. So the pressure’s off, everything is going to happen exactly as it is meant to.
Don’t get me wrong, some of these people are Christians who definitely love God. There are still hard, lonely days. But they’re easier knowing a better day is planned. Knowing you’re loved passionately by the person who made you.
I am not going to do this on a regular basis. I will still write about disney movies, (I can’t wait to see Happy Feet 2), awesome books, and dorky cute things like mushrooms (speaking of which, that will probably be my next post). But this was something that had to be said: You are gorgeous, made perfectly, and are here for a reason. You are loved and I can’t wait until the day that you don’t think of yourself with loathing and sadness. Because none of it is what others see. They might not tell you that, because some obvious things get overlooked. I don’t have an easy solution to your sadness today, but I’m hoping I can give you a piece of my hope for you and peace of mind. I’m happy and I have POTS. I never though I’d say that. I can’t wait for the day that you will too.