This may be a tough pill for some to swallow, so bear with me.
One of the things I’ve learned in my life is the danger of extremes; the inability or refusal of two opposing sides or ideals to find a common ground. Perhaps to use a more accurate word, I’m talking about polarity. The dictionary defines polarity this way: “the presence or manifestation of two opposite or contrasting principles or tendencies.” Often, subtly and seemingly unnoticeably, those two opposite or contrasting principles manifest themselves initially in ways that don’t seem to contradict each other. Yeah the contrast comes from the way people interpret and act upon the principles. In this case, I’m going to talk about this concept in the sense of our looks and our bodies.
First of all, I’m going to address a kind of hot-button topic: political correctness. We in America have become so sensitive to criticism of any form, even if it’s positive. As such, we’ve pushed the notion that we have to stop criticism entirely. Now, I’m not in any way saying we need to start running around throwing insults at one another. But what I am saying is that we’ve gotten so sensitive to criticism that we’ve compromised a huge thing in return: accountability. We no longer push people to be accountable in the most important way: we no longer push people to be accountable to themselves.
The start of this comes in having personal goals, and I’m not just talking about having a goal of making more money next year. I’m talking about goals of personal improvement. The reason that so many people have stopped setting these goals is because it takes first acknowledging that you CAN improve, which to a lot of people means that there is something wrong with you or that there is something that is not up to some standard. I’m about to make an important point here, arguably the most important point you can draw from this article:
IF YOU ARE USING ANYTHING OR ANYONE ELSE’S OPINION TO JUDGE YOUR AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT, STOP NOW!
Yes, we need to stop looking at anorexic and unhealthily skinny supermodels and saying that that’s what you need to be considered pretty. Yes, we need to stop looking at insanely chiseled men and saying that defines masculinity. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean we need to look at ourselves overweight and out of shape and say that we’re fine just the way we are and not work on improving.
Think of it this way: you are a unique creation. You are the only “you.” No matter what anyone else says or what you may have in common with someone else, no body perceives the world the same way you do. Nobody else sees life through YOUR eyes no matter how much it may seem like they do. It’s a concept that I have named Self-Contained Reality and I’m sure at some point in time I will end up writing a lot more about it. The basic concept is this: there is no absolute definition of “reality.” Your reality consists of your experiences, your perceptions and your truths. Everything is subjective to the perceiver, thus every individual’s “reality” is different. Given this, the “reality” of your beauty – or perceived lack thereof – is only what you perceive and allow it to be.
With that said, I want to hold myself to a high standard. I want to create a version of myself that deserves to have stories told about me. “The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” When the time comes someday for me to be remembered, I want to be remembered as a man who always strived to be the best version of himself by his own accord, not anyone else’s.
I encourage you to do the same. Be the best version of yourself and let yourself decide (and really allow yourself to be honest) what the best version of yourself is. In case you’re insecure and feel you don’t know yourself, here’s some advice: because no one has been through your exact experiences and because no one has perceived them the same way you do (they don’t have your same “reality,” remember), NOBODY knows you better than you know yourself. So if you’re walking around saying, “I don’t know who I am,” no one else can truthfully give you that answer.
So really evaluate yourself. You think you’re overweight (doesn’t matter by how much) and don’t like it? Then be honest with yourself and say, “I don’t like that, I want to change it.” Once you’ve done that, find someone (you NEED help, personal resolve is near impossible to maintain) who you can trust to be BRUTALLY honest with you. Someone who, when you feel like you’ve reached your breaking point, will look at you and say, “No, you haven’t reached your goal. You’re still overweight. Fix it.” Find someone who will say, “You wanted to go back to school for another degree and you gave up on it. You did. Now go get it.” Find someone who will never allow you to give up on yourself. And most importantly, don’t ever allow yourself to give up on yourself. If you find yourself in a relationship (friendship, familial or relationally) that requires you to sacrifice a personal goal, it’s not a healthy relationship. I know this brings up the issue of compromise in relationships, but that’s a whole other discussion.
To put it all in whole, what I’m saying is that yes, you are beautiful just the way you are. Now take a look at yourself and ask yourself – with the most honest honesty you’ve ever mustered – if you are the best of yourself. If the answer is no, figure out why and change it. Not for anyone else. For you. You owe it to your own memory to be the best version of yourself. Make EVERY DAY a good day to die. It’s a good day to die when you can look at your life and say that you genuinely have no regrets. That – if there is a consciousness after death – you can look back and say, “I never stopped pursuing my life.” Don’t find yourself looking back and saying, “I wish I had done this” or “I never got to do that.” Along with this, recognize that it is far better to die in the pursuit of no regrets than to die never pursuing eradicating those regrets. Even if you don’t achieve that goal, you’ll at least be able to look back and say, “I never stopped trying. I never let myself be less than my best.”
If you find the phrase “a good day to die” morbid, don’t. Think about it in the sense I just described. If you’re saying it’s a good day to die because you have no regrets and you’ve lived everyday pursuing the best of yourself, YOU ARE THE BEST OF YOURSELF. And if you are the best of yourself then it’s a good day to live, too.
So take a look. Yes, you have “flaws” (we all do, by someone’s standards). But find what YOU decide – not the media, not friends, not family, YOU – is your best and pursue it. And never stop that pursuit. Be a person that is proud in your own shoes, especially if those shoes are changing. Be the person that YOU are proud of because you are proud of pursuing your best. I am telling you, you are beautiful just the way you are. Now go be your best.