I did not get punched in the face.
I found it helpful to start most of my conversations with that sentence last week, answering the question that was inevitably in the pucker of everybody's lips.
At first I thought I was saying this as a way of breaking the ice for people, but then I realized I was saying it for ME because what I REALLY wanted was to answer the question that I was AFRAID was on peoples' minds.
That question, of course, being, "Did you get a nose job?"
Listen. I got 99 insecurities, but my nose ain't one.
By telling people that I did not get sucker-punched, it opened the floor for me to say that I had a chunk of (non-scary) cancer removed from my nose, which, in my mind, translates directly to, "no, I did not get a nose job."
I'm going somewhere important with this post but hang on tight because we're going to take the back-way there.
Owen was out of town on the day of my surgery, and when he got home, I had just returned from a day at the office and a whole lotta errands looking exactly like I did in the above photo.
"I'm proud of you, Honey," said he. "I think a lot of women [he surely meant 'people'] would have done anything to avoid going out in public like that. You are ballsy. I love that about you."
I did not take this as the backhanded compliment that it appears to be in print. I took it as a fabulous compliment.
I puffed my chest like a rooster. He is right. In the best way possible, I've got metaphorical cajones when I need 'em.
I have the potential to be extraordinarily brave. And I love that about me.
But I wasn't being brave when I went out in public looking like that. I ENJOYED going out in public like that. I was not scared, so it was not brave.
Let's look at three relevant points:
Fact #1: I care a lot about what people think of me…as a person. I care TOO MUCH about what people think of me as a person. It an unhealthy sign of insecurity (and also of an unruly amount of kindness and empathy) how much I concern myself with what people think of me as a person.
Fact #2: At this point in my life (key words "this point"), I truly do not give a sh*t whether people think I look pretty.
Fact #3: Rereading fact #2 is distressing to me because I typed it mindlessly, and when people say they "don't give a sh*t" about something, they usually in fact give many sh*ts about that thing, which explains the strong language.
Let's figure this one out. I haven't seen my therapist in a while, so I can think of no reason why I shouldn't hash this one out before a vast audience of peers and strangers, can you?
Let's begin, then.
The reason I was under the impression that #2 was a fact was because I enjoyed going out in public like that. I enjoyed it for the same reason I sometimes enjoy dressing sloppily in public. It's a good filtering process, you know? Helps to remove anybody from my life who might think that my worth (or any person's worth) has anything to do with whether or not I or they dress pretty, for crying out loud.
It feels like a gentle way of flipping the birdy to the Judgy McShallowtons of the world.
Which is why I was under the impression that I don't care what people think of my appearance.
But if the opposite of love is not hate but indifference, then the opposite of vanity is not using sloppiness as a middle finger to the world.
The opposite of vanity might be indifference. But more likely, the opposite of vanity is LOVING the McShallowtons and McChauvinists, who suffer because they can't see truth.
But definitely, the opposite of vanity is self-love.
I'm rolling my eyes at my own epiphany over here. [For the love of all things holy, someone tell me--PLEASE--that we have not landed on the self-love card again!!] After all the time and money and vulnerability I have invested in trying to learn self-love, how is it not yet instinctual for me to be loving towards me? Why is there still anger there??
I guess I know where that subconscious passion about this topic--that quiet desire to flip off the world--comes from.
Some of it comes from knowing that for many years, my happiness in a given day had a lot to do with how much my thighs rubbed together that day, how voluminous my hair looked, or how many compliments I did or did not receive that day.
I'm angry that I gave my power away like that.
But this isn't about the past, is it?
I STILL give away my power. I give it away every time I value someone else's opinion of me more than I value my OWN opinion of me. I give it away whenever I concern myself with other peoples' perception of my business, my photos, my written words, my parenting, my decisions.
That's where the anger comes from.
It's not the WORLD I want to stick it to. It's the critic inside of me that I want to flip off.
That's why I enjoyed walking around in public looking like I just stepped out of a boxing ring last week.
It was liberating. And it made me look tougher than I felt.
I sat down to write a much different post than this today. But when I let the words flow, I write--not what I plan to write--but what I need to write.
I think we all are maybe a little too concerned with how we are publicly perceived. I think the success of social media is pretty much spawned by this fear.
When my kids grow up and inevitably become concerned with their appearance, I want them to know what I believe. I believe that self-love and letting ourselves shine is the ONLY thing that will determine our "beauty."
I want my children to know that when they let themselves shine, NOTHING can stop them from being magnetically radiant…not even a punch in the nose.
I want you to know that, too.