You know the story of the Ugly Duckling? The one where there was this little duckling who was picked on because he looked different. He grew up wishing to be different, wishing he looked like all the other ducklings. Then, much to everyone's surprise, once he grew up he turned into the most beautiful swan.
I remember as a child I loved that story. I would lay in bed some nights just thinking about this story and how it had such a wonderful outcome. I dreamed that I was that ugly duckling. That someday I would feel beautiful as I certainly felt that I was the ugly duckling as a child. I am not really sure where those feelings of inadequacy came from. I don't remember any specific incidents of being severely picked on, it's almost like it was just something I was born with.
I think about that often in my adult life. I can't help but wonder if that was the beginning of that deep belief that I wasn't good enough. All those feelings that eventually turned into the need to starve myself chasing that dream that if I was just skinny enough I would eventually be good enough. It's almost like my way of manipulating my story so I could finally be that beautiful swan, or at least what I thought would make me a beautiful swan. With the correct amount of control and the smallest amount of caloric intake, I had manipulated my reality to the point that I actually believed this would make me beautiful and increase my self-worth.
A couple of days ago, I was thinking of my ten-year-old girl, and I went back to my ten-year-old self. I remembered feeling fat as a child, but when I look back at my pictures, I don't see a fat child. I just see an average sized girl. I sifted through memories trying to figure out why I felt fat, where it all stemmed from. I have spent years trying to figure it all out. The whys, the hows, all of it, and I have been able to come up with a solid memory from my childhood.
What I can tell you is the impact it has on me currently. When I see bullying, it cuts me straight to the core. Immediately I am overwhelmed with what it must feel like for that person being bullying. I imagine the pain, I imagine the deep hurt and the lasting effect it could have on that person. When I witness people who should love each other say hurtful things, call names, point out flaws and proclaim them to the world, you might as well have said those things to me as I can imagine the pain as my own. My eyes have been opened to the damage words have on any individual.
I fall short at times and get caught up in making jokes, passing judgment, or making nasty comments in retaliation but I am always trying to strive to be better at this; to love more and focus less on others flaws. Once I was told that the answer is always love. I try and live as if that was moto. When I chose to love others I am less likely to focus on flaws or imperfections and more likely to only see the wonderful qualities and how they enhance my life.
I no longer believe I was the ugly duckling, I believe I was the beautiful swan all along, I just couldn't see it through the lies I chose to believe about myself.