I caught a glimpse of your very pretty face in the mirror and I wondered why I didn’t notice you
sooner; wondering why hadn’t I fallen in love with you sooner? How did I never notice how
unique you are?

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. I don’t say those words often. For this though, I truly was.

When I was a teenager I hated myself because I was short and had curly brown hair. Why
couldn’t I be tall? Why couldn’t I be thinner or prettier? But, prettier to whom?

Me in my awkward teenage years

At 40, I finally realized that I didn’t want to be tall or super skinny. And I vowed that I wouldn’t
let my daughter ever look in the mirror and see anything other than the beautiful human being
that was in there looking back at her. In many ways, it was my daughter who made me realize
that true beauty comes from within.

All of the self-deprecating talk and behavior that I had employed when talking to and about
myself needed to go away. It was a layer that I was used to seeing in myself and so very used to
hiding behind. It was a crutch of sorts that would no longer serve a purpose in my life, if I could
get ahead of it. After all, I had tried to work on my marriage, but even with the best of
intentions we had gone through too many trials and tribulations. We recognized that it would
be easier to part ways while we could still remain civil to one another. I beat myself up for that
for a long time. Maybe if I had tried harder, maybe if I just weighed 20 pounds less, maybe if I
was taller then things would have worked out.

The truth is that things did work out. They didn’t work out the way I expected them to or
certainly the way I planned for them to, but they worked out. And it wasn’t my place to judge
how it happened. It was my place to love and accept myself exactly the way I am. Because I am
perfectly imperfect in all of my flaws. We all are. There is a light that shines brightly inside each
one of us. The trick is to find that light and really let it out.

For me, my moment of clarity came when I was all alone and feeling hopeless. I felt a despair so
deep in my bones I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to come back from it. How could I face
this world? I had failed at so many things. I had failed at my marriage, which was the final straw
for me. I knew that I needed to dig deep and remembered back to when I was a cheerleader.
My favorite cheer came back to me, “Big Blue. Dig In. Go. Fight. Win.” And I dug in deeper.
Digging in deeper doesn’t mean that everything is always puppy dogs, rainbows and butterflies
for me. My life is far from perfect but I no longer need to see things as perfect. I only know that
I need to believe in myself and trust that everything will be ok. And it is ok, it really is.

We are all perfectly flawed in our imperfections, yet, we try to hide behind external factors.
Whether it is how much we weigh, what we wear, whether or not we use chemical injections to
make ourselves appear younger, tighter, thinner, or taller. There are so many standards for

beauty that are out there. As a young girl my grandmother would tell me that it didn’t matter
what I looked like on the outside, of course “I was pretty,” she would reassure me. “It’s what’s
inside that counts,” she would often whisper in my ear. And she was right all along.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan it to, sometimes even with the best of intentions
things tend to go array. I had no idea that my Dads passing would lead me down the path it did,
a path where I ended up as a divorcee, a single parent and after having put my everything into
my former spouse’s business, I realized that somewhere along the path I had lost myself and I
needed to get me back, I needed to go back to work on myself and for myself. I promised
myself that I would never give up on my dreams again or sacrifice my sense of self. I have a
daughter and I want her to see me as a strong and independent woman who can pick herself up
when she falls down.

Here I was alone at a friend’s house. I had no idea I was about to recognize how strong I really
am and I can’t pinpoint exactly what happened that day but when I woke up I knew something
was different. A relationship I was in was ending and I knew that it had nothing to do with what
I looked like or how much I weighed. It had everything to do with me growing up and realizing
that I deserve all of the best things that this life has to offer. The relationship that ended that
day was the one where all of the negative self-talk died.

I always say that I wouldn’t change anything in my life, everything hasn’t happened for a reason
but it’s happened and I can’t change it. So no, I wouldn’t go back and change anything. There is
one thing I would do. I would love myself more, and sooner. And I wouldn’t wait so long to
learn to love myself. And to realize that there is no need, today, tomorrow or pretty much ever
to be insecure. About anything. Try it and don’t like it? No worries. You tried. We don’t have to
be perfect at everything but we can never stop trying.

Nicole Black
Nicole Black

Nicole Black is an author, advocate and motivational speaker whose journey through fat shaming and food addiction was transformed into a powerful, positive body image. Now, she teaches women to heal from the inside out and reclaim their lives.

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