Hola my beautiful readers!
Ready for a mess of thoughts and wandering ideas? Good, because that’s what you are about to get. *winks*
And please, as always, listen to my Porch Swing Conversations episode two that is the companion to this post.
I’m watching the world swirling around me in a cloud of darkness and panic and anger and ultimate condemnation, and some days I’m overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed by the sense of worthlessness the world leaves us.
Overwhelmed by continual striving to be bigger and better and never satisfied with where we’re at.
“If maybe I could do this…accomplish this….be this…move here….then I would be happy.” I find myself in this trap. Maybe if I had more followers on Instagram, more of my books sold, if I was able to move out, make more money, had a better body, more guys flirted with me….etc, etc, etc….maybe then I could reach the status of happy.
Maybe then I would find satisfaction.
And yet sometimes I reach my goals, my dreams, and new ones come and I find myself heading down that bunny trail of if only’s yet again. The never-ending cycle in the search of happiness and satisfaction continues, and I’ve come to the conclusion that if we aren’t satisfied with where we currently are, if we cannot find joy even in the mundane normalcy of right now, even if there is pain, if I cannot manage joy here, I will never find it.
I recently picked up a beauty magazine and flipped through the pages. It showed before and after pictures of models, and I laughed. “What’s wrong with the before photos?” I asked. “I mean, they just look like normal people.”
The article went on to say what each model needed to be beautiful: to hide her sags and wrinkles, or gain a better hair color or brighten her eyes. I looked at the after photos and felt a little bit of anger, because in the world’s eyes I will never be good enough. I will never be able to achieve the after look these models were. In the world’s eyes these models went from “bland to bombshell,” (their words and not mine), “from mousy to mod,” and so on. According to the article, my zits need to be hidden, my cheeks sucked in…
While the world is proclaiming, “love yourself,” it has unintentionally taught us the opposite. We aren’t supposed to love ourselves flaws and all — we airbrush those. If you scroll down Instagram like I do, you may see the body being objectified as something to conquer, to make better is to be happier.
At first I thought that the toning of the body and always trying to be more fit and acne free and spotless was an expression of love for the body. However, the older I become the more I believe it’s actually an aversion towards our physical selves. It is continually telling us we are never good enough. “Yeah you may have lost weight…but now you need to look toned.” “Yeah, you may finally have that butt you ways wanted….but now what about your boobs?” “Yeah you finally hid those bags under your eyes but what about your graying roots?” “Yeah you may have lots of friends…but what if you moved here?” “Yeah you finally paid off your car…but is it really as good as the latest model?”
Westernized culture accidentally contradicts the “love yourself” movement. It says, “yeah, love yourself…but not as you are.”
“I am not my body.”
This sounds like a good thing, because it’s freeing us from ourselves and our flaws — or at least that’s the hope. But instead of freeing me, the ideal is depressing as it shames me. It unintentionally told me that that value was what I made it, and that my value to society was laid in what I could bring to the table, that even just being, that my body itself, did not hold value.
It tells me that when I look in the mirror there can be a mistake, that it’s possible that God played a cruel joke on me by screwing up on his creation, and that even if he did, it shouldn’t matter because my body doesn’t serve any value.
And yet culture contradicts itself and tells me I still need to be perfect outwardly, that I’m still not good enough.
I may go my whole life only striving for beauty that will never be mine.
In other words, “my body will never be good enough so screw it and move on. Your body isn’t important as your ideas are or what you can bring to the table.”
Philosopher Immanuel Kant says that the enlightened self is autonomous, basically meaning we are free to impose our own ideas about our bodies. Our physical bodies have no ingrained purpose, and we may freely choose our own ways.
For me this may sound freeing at first.
I am not who the world tells me. I am free to look in the mirror and be who I want. I really do like that idea to a point — I am not simply my body. I am so much more than that! My body’s limitations do not have to hold me back.
even I am human. To say that I bring about my own meaning leaves me struggling to find it. When I have no laws to meaning, I am free to find my own and this is a struggle, especially to a desperate, wandering mind.
In High School and into graduating, I took a serious study into worldview and different religions and ideas. I read Plato and Darwin and Friedrich Nietzsche. I wanted to choose my own beliefs, not just “borrow” my parents’. This is the conclusion I personally came to:
In the Bible it says God made us in His image and called us good. In the book of Galatians it references to being set apart even before we are born. Psalm 18 says that God’s way is perfect.
When I looked in the mirror and saw a mistake, I wasn’t free — I was chained to the ideal that I may never be good enough. I only had my own crap thoughts to go by (and my thoughts were trash y’all). I was in the darkest of valleys and my thoughts, my ideals, were not good enough to save me. I couldn’t be my savior and if my identity was fluid, not concrete, if my physical body was worthless with no solid value alone without smarts or being able to give something to society, (as I felt the world was telling me)…then ultimately life only had as much meaning as I could give it.
And for me personally to accept that view usually traced back to Kant where I give my own self value, I concluded: I was worthless.
And if I concluded I was worthless, no one could tell me otherwise because there was no concrete ideal of value. As a guy friend once told me, “I can do whatever I want to my body because I’m the one who makes the rules for it.”
Then who was to tell me suicide was wrong if that was best for me?
The world was telling me to choose my worth and yet told me I had to gain so much in order to be happy. The striving only left me breathless and alone. The striving only left me with the empty purpose that my body was only as good as I saw it — so apparently it wasn’t good enough.
We all have our answers.
And I will leave you to find yours.
But let me tell you this: I found true happiness when I accepted myself in my body exactly as I was. I know I talked about this earlier in the previous post but I so want you to know:
You are loved exactly as you are.
Please refrain from thinking you need to show off your better parts, to take five different selfies to get your “better side,” or hide all your flaws. Please don’t think your worth only lies in what you can give us, but lies in simply being YOU.
As you are.
Mess and broken parts and all. You don’t have to change to hold value because your value does not die with your abilities or good emotions. I believe that the world is shaming us by saying our bodies are never good enough, no matter how unintentional that message is. And I believe that social media has not helped in the current of, “not good enough,” ideals. It tells us that what we can bring to the table gives us a certain value, but friend, let me promise you: