I’m not gonna tell you that you’re beautiful.


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I used to wait for my roommates to go to sleep so I could creep down the hallway into the kitchen and fill a bowl with food.

It was odds and ends of the things I could find in the fridge and I would eat until I reached the bottom of the bowl. I never told anyone how I was a vacuum cleaner at night, that I was trying to fill some kind of emptiness inside of me. It was a secret sworn between me & cutlery & the 1am hour.

I’d cry & I’d cry & I’d cry. And no one knew the desperation that visited me when I no longer knew how to control myself. How I just wanted to shrink smaller, smaller, smaller until I could disappear. Who taught me to be less? Who taught me to be so fragile?

My mama is like a gust of wind. She is stronger than I know how to be. She is all the sorts of love you wish you could grow up and become.  She never taught me to be small so I never learned it from her. My mama had promised me the stars and I just settled for the crumbs.

My mama would probably say, “Beautiful is loud footsteps. Knowing the weight of your own footsteps, not your torso. Beautiful is knowing that you came here to make a ruckus. Beautiful is being so big & bright that it makes it impossible for people to take their eyes off you. Always they will wonder, what will that one do next?”

When I said I was struggling, people would tell me I was beautiful. “Don’t worry, you’re beautiful. You’re strong.” Like just telling me “You’re beautiful” was enough. I couldn’t help but laugh. I was uncontrollable. I was sad. I was a sometimes, some days, most-days animal.

Beautiful was a word that I’d heard so many times– flung from girl to girl in some shallow exchange of words that was rarely ever meant– that it lost all meaning to me. Beautiful is a bound-up, broken word in a culture that matches it against thigh sizes and blemish-free skin.

The world had drained out all the metrics of measuring beautiful and replaced it with scales and calorie counts.

I’m not gonna stand here and tell you that you’re beautiful, like that’s gonna fix all your problems. Sorry, I just won’t. I’m not going to tell you of the worth you have. I’m not gonna wait for you to come to grips with whoever meets you on the other side of the mirror. I’m not gonna tell you that loving your curves makes everything better. Because what if it doesn’t? And what if you’re still sorry over that cookie you had two hours ago?

I’m just going to tell you that you’re kind of strange. You’re kind of quirky in the sense that no one ever fully understands the person that you are so you carry it like a secret between your smirked lips. Yes, you’ve been waiting for a moment to prove people wrong. I cannot wait to see that day.

You’re weird. You’re a little odd. You’ve never fully fit in but you are finally coming to grips with the fact that you don’t really want to be a follower. And baby, if you don’t want to be something then just don’t be it. People will tell you it is not as simple as that. But what if they’re wrong? And what if it is? Maybe we are all just 30 seconds away from stopping something for good and being different people today.

 

I’m not gonna tell you who to keep in your life. I’m no expert in always keeping the best company. But I am gonna say that someone out there believes in you. Someone out there needs you alive & breathing today. I am gonna say that someone else out there, they don’t see what you are. They never have. They never will. I’m not gonna tell you to cut the cord or break the tie but I am gonna wonder why you’re clipping your own wings though… I cannot do anything but wonder why you’re letting someone snuff the light out from your eyes. You could be so bright, you could be so bright.

 

I’m not gonna tell you that you’re beautiful. You have not needed to know you’re beauty so much as you’ve needed to see that you’re capable.

I’m not going to tell you to just get over it. If it were that easy, maybe we’d all do it. We’d have no issues. We’d have no internal struggles. We wouldn’t walk this line of good and evil every day. But I am gonna tell you that no bone inside of you has ever been a mistake. And no struggle inside of you has ever gotten rooted without a reason. Babe, if you’ve got struggles then let’s start raging. Your tiny fingers were prepped and created for battle.

Struggles are going to make you a fighter. Where I come from, we kiss the dirty ground for struggles. They are going to make your story that much resilient. You’re not going to survive them, you are going to absolutely obliterate them.

 

I’m not gonna tell you you’re dainty, and fragile, and a flower in the field. I’m not gonna turn you into a delicate line of poetry when you were born with so much feist & zeal & madness inside of you. How dare the world not tell you, right from the start, that you are some kind of warrior.

I’m not gonna tell you that you’ll always like yourself or that you’ll always believe in yourself. If you’re the least bit human then you’ve given up on yourself too many times to count this month already. I’m not gonna promise you won’t do something to hurt yourself or others around you. I’m not gonna act surprised if you admit it happened last night. But I am gonna tell you that deciding to believe in victory, that it was made for me,  has made all the difference to me.

If you want to stand here and wallow for too long about how you need to fix every itty bitty thing inside of you before you can ever get out there and do something that matters in this world, you can. I can’t stop you. But I can tell you that it’s this stupid, fragmented idea inside our heads that if we can just fix everything about ourselves then we’ll somehow be adequate enough to love on the world.

Darling, you’re adequate. While dancing. While speaking. While ugly crying. While spitting game. While struggling. While fighting. While laughing like a lunatic. While singing Taylor Swift at the top of your lungs. While slamming the door and walking away.  In every little crook of you stands some sort of adequacy that the world would do anything to keep you unconvinced of.

 

And maybe I’ve got no street cred, no authority, no weight in saying this, but I’m not gonna let you be the world’s largest living & breathing apology. I’m not gonna let you say “sorry” any longer– as if “sorry” were your second language– for things no human should ever have to apologize for. Say sorry when you’ve hurt someone. Say sorry when you’ve really misplaced your words and actions. But stop saying sorry for standing there and showing up to life everyday. You’re not an apology letter, you’re a thank-you note just waiting to happen.

And the best thing you might be able to do today is get outside, thank the skies for this day, and be the best darn broken piece of lovely you can be. Broken loveliness is the world’s most common language. We all speak it so we might as well get fluent.

The best thing you might be able to do today is forget yourself. And forget all the people you’ve tried to be. And forget all the people who told you to be someone different. And just look around long enough to notice that we all need some sort of pick-me-up on a Monday. We all want some kind of worth. We all struggle to see what is really right in front of us. We all deprive ourselves and get it wrong. We all wonder about the bigger picture and who made it all. We all wonder when we’ll wake up and finally, finally, feel like we were made to take on this day. We all wonder when, if ever, we’ll get better at this whole human being thang. Maybe “beautiful” is an overly diluted word but there is no denying that you are surrounded, surrounded by people who’ve wanted to be warriors too. With loud footsteps. And the power to make a ruckus. And the kind of heart that makes people wonder, what will this one do next?

 

I’m not gonna tell you that you’re beautiful. Sorry, I won’t. I am just going to stay here. And I’m not gonna give up on you today. Because I’ve found we stay standing when people don’t give up on us.  So I’m not giving up on you today. Or tomorrow.

You cannot mark the day on the calendar when I’ll walk away from you.

That, my dear, is just not happening.

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78 thoughts on “I’m not gonna tell you that you’re beautiful.

  1. That was just what I have really wanted to hear. After going thru a divorce this spring/summer, I went to a very dark place. The people that cared about me kept telling me I was beautiful and all that other blah blah stuff. That wasn’t what I needed or wanted to hear. All I wanted to know was that I mattered. Period. Once I believed that I did matter, things changed and I am the new and improved me. Thank you for knowing what to say. I am keeping this one to pull out on those few days where the dark tries to come back.

    1. From one Kristi to another, never let anyone else define who you are. You matter because YOU know you matter, and that’s all that matters. 🙂

      1. Thank you for those words, Kristi, especially today. I needed that reminder. It’s like I am talking to myself! 🙂 Have a blessed evening, dear Kristi.

  2. Oh. My. Gosh – this is so powerful, and unbelievably well-timed. I’m going to print this out and keep it for as long as I’ll need to look back at it, which I suspect will be forever. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

  3. You, my dear, are absolutely brilliant! I want to be just like you when I grow up 🙂
    P.S. I’m 56 years old. And I rock…but still want to be like you when I grow up!

  4. Just tears streaming down my face, breath taken away, soul pierced right through. I want to leave a comment but I’m so speechless I can hardly even move. I feel like you just wrapped me up in a warm blanket, set me on the porch in the crisp fall air and sunshine and just touched my hand. When you want to say thank you to someone, and it just seems so empty and not enough. But it’s what I’ve got right now. Thank you.

      1. Kristen, I’m humbled you were able to relate to my comment. I was so overwhelmed by this post and it has been rambling around inside my head and heart all day.

  5. Hannah,
    Thank you for the life you speak and the love you send out over the Internet to people who you might never meet, but whose lives are impacted by your words all the same. I hear the voice of God in your words, speaking worth and love and light into darkness. Bless you. ❤

  6. What a beautiful note to read on a monday! We’re starting a new week and sometimes you just need an uplifting reminder…..this was that great reminder for me today! Thanks so much for that!

  7. Hannah, you did it once again, you made me realise that we’re all just human. So often I forget I’m not the only one struggeling, but your writing shows me that you’ve been there too. That many other people have been there. That we all can relate to beeing human.
    So often this isn’t included in our daily lifes. It is expected to function. To get your work done and have a smile on your face and some nice words on your lips. We might think this mean when all we need are some meaningful words, but maybe we can be the one to bring those on the table, because we’re for sure not the only one wanting more out of life.
    Once agian, thank you!

  8. perhaps the most balanced, real, and necessary piece of writing on beauty/self acceptance that i’ve read in 6 years of struggle/healing. thank you.

  9. I’ll honestly say within these past 2 hours I have been sitting here, motionless at work, just thinking. Thinking how I want to hear someone mention to me why I can be loved. Tell me my quirks, that little side smile thing I do when I try so hard not to smile. Something. And please leave out the words, “You’re beautiful”. I agree it is too diluted. What does it mean?
    I asked this guy I like who continues to search for new girls “What is it that I lack?”. His response, “Nothing”. But I think I asked him that because I wanted to fix me for the next guy….but these words you wrote meant more to me than any answer he could of gave me. “…But I can tell you that it’s this stupid, fragmented idea inside our heads that if we can just fix everything about ourselves then we’ll somehow be adequate enough to love on the world.”
    I read all your posts. But this one. This one is exactly what I needed today. Eyes water knowing that someone who knows nothing about me, could know exactly what I wanted to hear. Needed to hear.
    I had to tell you thank you. Thank you for telling me.

  10. As I sit here prior to reading this I was crying …I felt so low, unappreciated, ugly, worthless. I am going through a rough time right now and this just made me feel so appreciated. God bless you for writing this, it was stumbled upon unexpectedly through a mutual friend on Fb. I’m really grateful for this.

    Thank you

  11. I breathe in deeply and just TRY to take it all in. Thanks for sharing, and for sharing your heart. What a concept. (ps – Is it alright that I shared an excerpt and linked it back here?)

  12. Hannah, thank you for this. It seemed to be exactly what I needed to hear – that I need to stop being an apology. Your words are a blessing, love.

  13. I have no words other than to say that I am bowled over by your honesty and heart and so glad I discovered you and your writing. So quotable. So worth sharing. Thank you so much!

  14. On a particularly difficult Monday morning, your words reminded me that all of my thoughts are valid, as I have often had this conversation with myself. In a world that specializes in making women alone in their thoughts, its nice to know that I’m no sigular in these thoughts or feelings. Its refreshing…

  15. I don’t mean this to offend anyone, rather to inspire (just as Hannah already did) the warrior in each one of us. Please read Ephesian 6:10-20 about the armor of God and pay heed to how these principles of our lives that Hannah so beautifully wrote about can be applied to spiritual warfare as well. 🙂
    Thank you! Most especially for the part about being a thank you note rather than an apology… Great job!

  16. Thank you for this power piece. Thanks for helping me remember not to give up on myself, the people around me, and the earth. I spent the morning outside, so now I’ll return to my imperfect but good enough writing. And I feel thoroughly beautiful in all the ways that matter.

  17. Thank you Hannah… This is awesome. Believing I am capable and adequate enough has been an issue for me for years and this was exactly what I needed to see. I am definitely going to share this with a few of my female students I’ve been mentoring.

    Thank you!

  18. Love this. LOVE! Can think of SO many women who need to read this. Including the one sitting behind this computer.

    “Say sorry when you’ve hurt someone. Say sorry when you’ve really misplaced your words and actions. But stop saying sorry for standing there and showing up to life everyday. You’re not an apology letter, you’re a thank-you note just waiting to happen.”

    I keep reading this over and over and over to myself!

  19. Totally speechless and totally going to sit with this tonight and just about every day in the near future. Thank you Hannah for once again putting things in perspective and making me think, feel and understand.

  20. Thank you its nice to know. You understand what its like. Could never say some of those things out loud. Glad you did

  21. Probably the most powerful piece I’ve ever had the luck to come across. I found myself agreeing with every single word here. I was left practically dry sobbing because everything was so true. I have a feeling I’ll keep coming back again and again everyday to read this. Thank-you so much for sharing this.

  22. Reblogged this on Class and Creation and commented:
    “How dare the world not tell you, right from the start, that you are some kind of warrior.”
    One of my friends posted this on facebook, with the caption “Y’ALL. If you feel even the tiniest bit broken, or tired, or useless today. Read on. ‘I’m not gonna let you be the world’s largest living & breathing apology.’ Hannah is a wizard of words. ” And I cried as I read it.

  23. Dear Hannah:
    I am and always have been a very timid, shy person afraid of speaking in public or meeting new people. I have taken speech classes to try to get rid of my fear and to be less intimidated or bullied by people but nothing has changed. I am not a crier. I keep things inside because I feel ashamed to be this way and I am now older and if I am not successful in some ways it is due to my shyness. I don’t know how to overcome it. Yes, I am always told I am beautiful physically like it is something I achieved. I was born beautiful BUT what can I do with this beauty when I can’t attend a meeting, or sit on a board, or be part of an association because when it is my turn to speak my mind goes blank and I can’t talk? I have lost many job opportunities which would have enhanced my career, due to my inability to interact appropriately. Whenever I am in a party I can’t do small talk. I don’t know what to say to break the ice. I mostly keep quiet and listen. I have read a lot of interesting things, I know a lot about history of the world, geography, I have read the classics, I am informed about news, about countries, I have traveled, I know about art, good food, good wines and have tried to help others as much as I can, on a one-to-one basis. And I love myself, as my nutrition and health. I love others and I am compassionate. But my shyness keeps me from helping groups, organizations. Because I am extremely shy.
    Could you send a letter to timid people like me, about what we can do to help ourselves so we can help others and have a more productive lives?
    thank you.

  24. you are an amazing writer, and your words are exactly what so many of us need to hear. i just discovered your blog and now i check it every day. thank you! you are so wonderful!

  25. Don’t tell me I am beautiful, but be with me when world arises against my opinion, be with me when I need that walk home during pouring rain, kiss me on the side walk when everyone is watching and let me be myself in the battles of my life and decisions. Don’t tell me I am beautiful, but let my soul feel desired just like that, with no negotiation, or well learned lines, codes of action or anything else. Just be who you are: a stranger, worrier, saver, hero or a random person on the street. Just be who you are and make me matter.

    I think that is what matters – to be who you are, to be strong with all the tears, storming out, with struggles through the day, with shattered dishes and hour long phone calls. I wish everyone could be who they are and loved for exactly that matter!

    I am not going to tell you that you’re beautiful, but I am going to show you that you matter. A lot.

    Thank you for this wonderful post and all the thoughts and thinking that it pushed me on. I have send off my love letter bundle yesterday and I hope I will make someone matter!

  26. this is truly amazing. you are so inspiring. LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!!!! you seriously made me cry in this. absolutely amazing.

  27. needed this today.
    and yesterday.
    and tomorrow.
    seriously, it’s like this was written specifically for me, and although i know that’s not the case, i can’t thank you enough.
    grateful for your love and encouragement through the vessel of your writing.

  28. You are both beutiful and everything else more than that, Hannah. For doing this and for saying outright that you stand up for every girl and every woman, that makes us be as well — be beautiful even when nobody would say so and to be oh everything else more than that. You are wonderful, thank you for thinking that we all are too.

  29. This was something I needed to hear right now. You are “beautifully” + eloquent writer, I can feel your words and they mean a lot. Thank you! Keep writing, I will keep reading. Warrior.

  30. As my eyes water up, I can say that this is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  31. I wonder if you truly realize just what you’re words mean for some of us…do you realize just how deep they touch? The healing power of them? Truly awe inspiring…I’ve been working very hard on self-improvement, trusting in my self, owning what I deserve and reaching out for it. It’s been a struggle to say the least. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your amazing gift with us! 🙂

  32. I’m sitting here at my desk doing the whole cough thing to keep the tears from rolling down my face – thank you Ms. Hannah, thank you so very much for writing this. I’m looking forward to more and your book next winter! I’m so glad I stumbled across your blog this morning – much love and respect to you.

  33. Pingback: … | Made-to-love

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