This Thanksgiving is a little bittersweet for me. I lost a friend yesterday. My high school best friend. She had been sick for many years, so in a way, it was a blessing that she left her body, but in another way, it breaks my heart that she is gone.
When I think about my friend Lisa, I think about someone who had a huge heart and a great deal of love and compassion for others, but she seemed to struggle when it came to loving and appreciating herself. She cared so deeply about the people around her, and yet, she often had a sense of self-loathing, particularly around body image. It had always been that way from the time I met her when we were both 14.
I don’t think Lisa’s struggle for self-appreciation was unusual. Most teenage girls (and most likely boy’s too) dislike their bodies. They resent the way puberty makes them look. Pimples, baby fat, bad hair, and braces, we’ve all been there.
But what makes me sad, not just for Lisa, but for myself and for most women I know, is that we never truly let go of that sense of self-loathing. It’s always there. We continue to hate things about our body or even our personality or life circumstance for the rest of our lives. We resent the way our bodies look in comparison to the women we see in the media. We resent the signs of aging as the wrinkles set in, the gray hairs take over and the waist continues to thicken. We always seem to be resenting ourselves for things that are natural and inevitable.
I have never really thought about how much of a burden this truly is until this moment as I sit here thinking about my friend Lisa. Then I think about myself and how it feels to not really appreciate my body exactly how it is. How I’d love to have less lines on my face or a smaller waist. As though who I am right now isn’t good enough. Yet ironically, even when I had fewer wrinkles and a smaller waist, it still wasn’t good enough.
When I write blog posts, I typically like to have a good takeaway for my readers. First I write the struggle, then I write the solution. It’s a good formula. But today, I have no formula. I don’t have 5 easy steps to loving yourself more and finally letting go of the burden of self-resentment. I wish I did. And even though Google has 34,000,000 ideas for loving yourself more, it doesn’t seem to make a dent in the lack of self-appreciation I see within me and all around me.
So my Thanksgiving wish this year for all of us is for peace and appreciation. Peace from self-loathing and a profound sense of appreciation for ourselves just as we are, perfectly imperfect. It sounds lovely in theory, but I intend, if only for this day, to make it the most important thought of my day. To love myself as much as I love the people around me. I hope you join me.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde