Comparison is the thief of joy.

Today, my sweet, beautiful, perfect, soon-to-be collegiate athlete, 17-year-old client innocently asked me “So, what – is an hourglass figure genetic? Look at me – I am just – like – straight!” as she exhaled her frustration at what she perceived her body to be.

My response?  “You are athletic! – Let’s consider what your body can DO instead of just what it looks like.”  She smiled and said “Yea, you’re right!!”

I promptly put my Mom/Big Sister/Coach hat on to remind her about how important it is to have positive self-talk; to have self-love.  In a society where women are inundated with unrealistic physical expectations, we have to learn how to love ourselves, no matter what we think we look like. It hurts my heart that she would see anything other than what the rest of the world sees.  She is a superstar athlete, smart, grounded, funny, kind, and all the things – and I know she knows all of this – but she still wishes her body looked different.

Our conversation made me think of my adolescence; specifically how I learned to hate my body at a very early age. I really hated everything about my appearance.  I compared myself to everyone – all the time.  The girls I went to high school with, the cashier at the grocery store, the librarian, the neighbor down the street – I was always wishing that I could look like anyone other than me.  That incessant comparing not only stole my joy but it smothered my self-esteem horribly.

I was always wishing that I could look like anyone other than me.

I had curly hair.  I had a gap between my two front teeth.  I was overweight.  I remember desperately trying to change my appearance.  I masqueraded my natural appearance by dying my hair blonde, wearing heavy makeup, choosing an outrageous wardrobe (I was an 80’s kid – so it was torn jeans, concert shirts, scrunchy boots, chain belts and black fingernails). If I looked different, then maybe my life would be different.  So, for my 16th birthday, all I asked for was for the gap between my teeth to be fixed.  I remember the day I had it fixed like it was yesterday.  Mom and Dad gifted me a new smile and I bought myself a birthday outfit. That day, I was feelin’ myself – for the first time ever.  That day, I felt pretty for the first time ever.  That day, I didn’t compare myself to anyone – except the girl I was the day before.

Thirty-Six years later…

Tomorrow, I will celebrate my 52nd birthday. Thirty-six years later – I am feelin’ myself every day!  Now, don’t misunderstand – not in an arrogant or conceited way – but in a self-love kind of way.  I love who I am and I love what my body can do and how it’s gotten me through my life.  I love that my strength helped me care for my mother toward the end of her life. I love that my endurance would allow me to run a 10k with my BFFs if I wanted to. I love that my core strength helps me climb up a 12-foot ladder while I install party lights in MY GYM! 

Granted, I don’t always LIKE the way I look but I know that is fleeting and temporary. Anyone who says they love the way they look every minute of every day is a liar.  We ALL have “those days” where nothing looks good, bad hair day, or whatever – but if we could just learn to look past that and instead appreciate and love what our bodies can DO, we would be far better off.  Today, I try my hardest to never compare (Ok, I admit, I compare my cooking with restaurant dishes….lol!  #masterchefhereicome). Seriously though, replace comparison with self-reflection, self-improvement, and self-awareness, positivity, determination, and gratitude.

My advice for all of you reading this post is to seek out self-love.  HUNT IT DOWN!!  When you find it – roll around in it – smear it all over your head and heart – and make it the foundation for your life!!