We live in a youth-obsessed culture. Advertisers bombard us with products claiming to hold the key to eternal youth–buy this and you will look and feel younger. As if our value slowly diminishes with age. Society plants the seed that these are the best years of our lives. Websites provide endless lists of things we should do before marriage, before 30, before we, presumably, run out of time to live full and exciting lives.
Right now, you cannot imagine graduate school, living abroad, marriage, motherhood, and the endless wonder, mundanity, joy, wisdom, and growth that comes with age. You feel trapped and unnoticed in small-town America. You are clinging to a past which no longer serves you, and burying your individualism (what makes you uniquely you) under insecurities and irrelevant societal standards designed to silence and belittle. We readily acquiesce to gender conformities, ill-formed religious interpretations, corporatized beauty “ideals,” and the notion that our worth correlates to our bank accounts.
Self-Love Unlocks the Freedom to Truly Live as God Intended.
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” – Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
You are not your past. You are not your teacher’s expectations. You are not confined to other people’s projections of self. God carefully and lovingly brought you into being. You are as you should be–no alterations are required to radiate beauty.
The light of His love embodies you. Embrace it. Draw on His infinite wisdom and Divine love to find the strength to love yourself. All the perceived flaws and imperfections, the goals and aspirations, and the self-image you’ve crafted can enlighten you, or weigh you down. Choose wisely. Always remember the path to self-love lies in your reach, even if you occasionally stray from it.
Find Your Voice.
“They can’t be / what they don’t believe / they can’t see what you see” – Tori Amos, Flying Dutchman
Society provides a blueprint for womanhood, but it comes at a price. It’s better to resist, and to dig deep within yourself. There is something inside of you worth sharing with the world. You have been pigeon-holed as unmotivated, plain, disengaged and eccentric–an outcast to those who objectify women, and to those who see working-class as second class.
People will laugh at your dreams, and your ideas. Resist the urge to internalize negativity. If someone is unable to journey alongside you, then they may take the back seat or pursue another path. Own your voice, so the right people will be drawn to you. Your courage and authenticity will gravitate like-minded individuals to you. God gave you a mind and a soul that no man, corporation, government, or naysayer can override.
You’re More Than Your Looks.
“Culture stereotypes women to fit the myth by flattening the feminine into beauty-without-intelligence or intelligence-without-beauty; women are allowed a mind or a body but not both.” ― Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth
Money can buy you a new face, a new look, a new alter-ego to shroud yourself in. These things won’t make you happy. Contentment and self-worth are not sold in stores. Advertisers have us believe they hold the key to your fulfillment. Liberation is freedom and freedom is knowing that God made no design flaw. Your beauty is intrinsic.
Once released from the beauty myth, allow your mind to flow as naturally and as independently as any man’s. Marriage, careers, and all good things come to women who think, and act. Distrust those who say otherwise.
Life Is Not a Race nor a Competition.
“The only advice I can give you is what you’re telling yourself. Only, maybe you’re too scared to listen.” ― Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere
Slow down. Take the time to reflect upon, and to appreciate God’s gifts. Once you recognize that the ebb and flow of life is in God’s hands, the pressures and anxieties which cripple you will diminish.
You may find your place in this world differs from another’s. This is the natural and intended consequence of life. We can’t all be doctors, lawyers, and millionaires. Seek out what fulfills you, even if it contradicts what you’ve been programmed to believe. Life’s winners rerouted the race, and exited the competition in pursuit of their authentic selves.
Grace and Courtesy.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Above all else, treat others along the way with dignity. Cultivate empathy. Rise above the rancor. No one is immune to the trials and tribulations of this world. A smile. A kind word. A prayer. A helping hand. The way you carried yourself and treated others is your real legacy.