“Will you come with me?”
“Where?” I asked.
“Up the drive. I can’t bring myself to walk up the drive alone, and you seem to know everyone”.
The fear I saw in her eyes at that moment will stay with me for the rest of my life. It wasn’t that the drive was a fearful place. It was, well, just the driveway of a local, prestigious girls only college. There was nothing sinister about it.
But it was the lunch hour. And the driveway was populated with girls – sitting around – chatting, laughing, gossiping and telling stories. What was so dreadful about that? Well, nothing really. But should you happen to walk up that drive – your clothes, your figure, hair, shoes… everything, was visually stripped bare. You were verbally dissected from head to toe, by each group of girls that were sitting on the drive. And all within earshot! No wonder my friend didn’t want to walk alone.
We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Maybe rather than on a driveway, it was at a birthday party instead. Maybe it wasn’t so much what other people were saying, as it was what you thought they were saying about you. I’ve felt the same, crippling fear at different times in my life, as I’m sure most people have as well. We are all concerned about how we look – some of us more than the others. It is a commonly held belief that the more beautiful you are, the further ahead you get in life. And in many instances that may seem to be the case.
In these days of recession and unemployment, newspaper articles are crammed with stories of how beautiful women and handsome men are rarely found unemployed, thereby suggesting that not-so-good looking people will find it difficult to find a job. While there maybe some occasions when this is true, for the most part, talent and experience is what gets and keeps a job. Let us not forget that many of the most beautiful faces have lived unhappy lives, often cutting short their lives by their own hands way before their time was up. Blame it on those fairy tales we were brought up on, where the princess was always pretty with flawless skin and long, flowing blond hair, and Prince Charming had a jawline that looked like a chiseled rock cliff.
This generation, more than the preceding generations, is infatuated with ‘image’. While beauty can be found everywhere, we have reduced it to being skin deep only. We want to look young even at 60, so we Botox. We are worried about the flaws in our body, so we lift, tuck, nip, all in the name of plastic surgery. At the very minimum, we use fairness creams or makeup to enhance our looks. Are all these bad for us? Is this a rant against cosmetic surgery? Not in the least. The point of the article is this – do what you want to do, but let it not be motivated by fear.
Lance Wallnau, a well-known transformational speaker and author, had this to say, “One thing I’ve learned as a speaker is this, the less self conscious I am – the more powerful my impact…If we could completely lose the worry of what people think of us we would risk more spontaneity, humor, and discovery…The less energy you have tied up in what people think, the more energy you can put into being authentic- and as a result the BEST of you shows up. YOU have something original in you that is your unique factor.”
The thing with fear is that it cripples. It makes us inward looking. So rather than grace our friends and family with our sunny disposition, we allow fear to reign over us and keep us from being all that we were meant to be. So I ask you, especially all the women out there. Don’t do what you are doing out of fear.
Instead embrace your unique identity – you were specifically crafted by your God and Maker. And no, He does not make flawed beings. He made each of us beautiful in our own way. And that’s ultimately the only thing that matters. We have a choice to make – live by the rules that society dictates or live on our own terms and dictate to society instead. Our lives are governed by the rules we accept – so choose wisely. Embrace your flaws. Live your life free.