I got one of the nicest compliments ever this week from a woman I had just met.
When I was younger, I used to be super self-conscious about the way I looked. At school I hated being taller than everyone else. I hated my super skinny legs, my thin face. You know how it is when you are at school, you want to be exactly the same as everyone else. You want to blend in so well that you become practically invisible. You certainly don't want to look like the beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk.
In my twenties and thirties, I worried less about being outside of the norm, but I still worried about what other people thought about me.
One of the best things about being in my forties is no longer worrying what other people think of my physical self. It is SO liberating not worrying about being trendy, fashionable, 'normal'. I embrace my otherness. I hardly ever make-up (thank god, because I HATE the way make-up feels on my face). My uniform is shorts, T shirt and flip-flops. I don't wear mascara, lipstick, necklaces, rings or high heels. I wear my hair tied up in a pony tail / bun thing. I have tattoos. I might not wear all the ribbons and bows, but I am always clean, my skin is well taken care of. I am by no stretch of the imagination a 'natural beauty'. In fact, I am the poster child for 'before and after' make overs. I look so different 'after' that people say things like "wow, you look so amazing done up and with make-up on, I hardly recognized you". I know I look quite fabulous with make up on and my hair done, but I don't want to. No amount of looking fabulous is worth the crawling, dirty feeling of make-up, the irritation of having hair tickling my face*. This is how I look once I have jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth, showered, tied up my hair and put clean clothes on. This IS my presentable self. And I like it. I want to be judged for the contribution I make towards society, not for my make up or my fashionable clothes. I want to be judged on how I help my fellow humans, how I raised my children, how I built my business. I want to be judged on how I have lived my life, not how I look. I wan't to be liked for my insides, not my outsides. Because I like myself, just the way I am.
*My tactile / sensory issues have gotten worse in my old age - I cannot handle anything touching my skin. Not my hair, not make-up and certainly not any dangly, tickly jewelry
I am class rep for one of the kid's classes and this week we had a class rep meeting to discuss selling refreshments at the athletics meeting.
We were put into smaller groups to discuss who was doing what, and being my usual bossy self I volunteered to organize the shifts etc. We were mixed with the Grade 1 moms, who I hadn't met before. After the meeting I sent an email (which has my blog URL in my signature) out to the moms who were in my group and I got the nicest email from one of the new moms I had met:
"Ek was gister gefassineerd toe ek jou die eerste keer sien omdat ek gedink het jy is so gemaklik in jou vel en so cool met jouself. Ek het so vinning van jou blogs gelees en is geinspireerd. Dit maak klasrep wees die moeite werd wanneer jy mammas kan ontmoet wie jou inspireer."
Translated: "I was fascinated yesterday when I saw you for the first time because I thought you were so comfortable in your skin and so cool with yourself. I quickly read some of your blog posts and I am inspired. It makes being a class rep worthwhile when you get to meet moms who inspire you"
And this was from a mom who is stunningly beautiful! A tall, slim, classy looking woman who was impeccably dressed. I remember thinking how beautiful she looked.
What a lovely, lovely thing to do - to send an email to a stranger to give her a compliment like that. She couldn't have paid me a nicer compliment! Being comfortable in one's skin must be one of the greatest things to be.
I emailed her back to tell her how much that had meant to me and to tell her that I am going to be BEST friends with her FOREVER. She didn't reply to my email so I might have undone all the coolness but that's ok. I will try to convince her that I am not a stalker and when I said FOREVER I only meant like 20 years or something.