By Ruth Lewis-Jones - Founder and Managing Director of ChooseREAL | Esteem Designz
In high school, I chose to try and be like everyone else. I desperately wanted to fit in. But I couldn't. Because I was trying to be what I thought others wanted, but was always left feeling confused and empty. Even if on the surface it seemed like I fit in, deep down I didn’t feel accepted because I didn’t accept myself. In my mind, I was not enough.
I didn't look like I was "supposed" to (or what I was brain washed into believing was real beauty from the media and magazine). I was too tall, too skinny and at the same time not skinny enough, my hair wasn't smooth and shinny, my face would go beetroot when I did any form of exercise, I was flat chested, my skin was fair with freckles everywhere.
I remember catching a glimpse of my profile one day in the angled fitting room mirrors while shopping and being shocked, thinking that is not how I "should" look. I then tried to avoid those mirrors as I didn't want to be reminded that I didn't have the "perfect" nose/side view, that I didn’t look like the girls in magazines. But can I tell you, they don’t even look like their own images.
And here's the truth, we are all unique and different, and if we continue comparing our looks and lives with others, we'll always be either dissatisfied, wishing our lives away, or arrogant, looking down on everyone who isn't like us.
And that's exactly what I did. I would think, if only I looked like her or had that, or didn't have this, THEN my life would be great. I fell hard into the trap of comparison.
I compared my own personality, thinking my gentle nature was weak and boring. I was trapped in the impossible strive for perfectionism. And worst of all, I took on the damaging words and labels people spoke over me (intentional or not). I believed I wasn't enough! I based my worth on how others saw me and what they did to me – letting people walk all over me because they were insecure and I didn’t value myself.
This prevented me from fully living my life, always hoping something would change and THEN, then I'll be happy with myself. I waited. And waited. And cried. And waited.
There was NOTHING I could do, nothing I could say, nothing I could change (on the surface) to make me FEEL enough, accepted and happy with myself.
Because what I was waiting for was already within me. I just didn't know it yet.
I had been so focused on comparing, on proving myself, on thinking I needed to fix something, that I was blinded to the infinite worth and value I always had.
Let me also point out, that I didn't even realize I was doing any of these things... They were so ingrained in me that I wasn't even aware I was feeding this destruction.
That's why they say comparison is the THIEF of joy - it comes and steals your contentment without you even knowing it was there.
NOW AND THEN.
It's been a journey and a process. None of these things I used to wish away have changed. It's my perspective and understanding that has.
Understanding who I am is enough - not based on what I do, how accepted I feel by others, my achievements, my appearance, or how I'm dealing with a current situation. Through it all, I AM ENOUGH.
It's not when... then I'll be enough. It's right now, all of me, just as I am. No matter what. I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH.
And it's a daily choice to ChooseREAL, sometimes hard, but so worth it!
I am learning to embrace and celebrate my REAL identity - seeing the beauty in who I AM, not who I wish I could be. It is our courage to be our REAL selves that makes us beautiful. Embracing all of our selves, our weakness, faults, imperfections. Clones are boring and uninspiring. What is rare is being one of a kind. And that's what I'm choosing.
I'm closing the door of the comparison trap. Sometimes it budges open, but I try to slam it shut as soon as I realise its leaking toxins.
I am learning to be thankful for what I have, where I am, the situation I am in. There are always things to be thankful for. There are opportunities and gifts in every season. Gratitude is such a powerful perspective changer.
I am learning my value and worth is NOT determined by how others view or treat me or even how I treat myself. I have infinite worth. My value can never be taken away. And neither can yours.
I am learning that I matter. You matter of course, but so do I. I need to treat myself the way I treat those I care for deeply. Forgive myself, not expect so much of myself, allow myself to rest, celebrate the small steps, feed my soul, talk to myself the way I talk to those I love.
I am learning to change my headphones - tuning into thoughts that empower instead of discourage. Change my glasses - seeing myself and world through the lenses that I AM ENOUGH. Change what I think I need to put on each morning -understanding my intrinsic worth and strengths, not putting on the unachievable expectations our culture dictates we should be/have/do. Change my focus, packing my essentials everyday - broadened perspective, gratitude, resourceful attitude, contentment, healthy goals. Being my own stylist - not letting the labels of others stick.
I wouldn't change the challenges I had, the insecurities I battled, the experiences I've been through, or even those things I use to wish away... They have made me who I am today. They have given me the passion and strength to empower others.
I am learning. Every step counts.
My name is Ruth Lewis-Jones. I choose to be REAL. I am MORE THAN ENOUGH, just as I am.
And so are you x