When I was young, I was the fat kid in school. I confess, I used to daydream that I would fall asleep one night and wake up looking like one of the pretty, popular girls in my class. If you’re going to dream, dream big, right? So I did. I wanted to be as pretty and popular as Hollye H. She was one of the girls I admired during my formative years at DeQueen Elementary school and then later middle and high school.
I remember 6th grade when I fell for a boy named Mike and I fell hard! One day in study hall when Mike sat behind me, I overheard him talking about being a huge KISS fan. His favorite band member was Paul Stanley. I spent my allowance that month to purchase the KISS album even though that was not my music of choice. I needed the album for the cover, you see. I could draw pretty well and I had a plan to win Mike’s heart by drawing a picture of his guitar hero.
I drew the picture and nervously presented my gift to him in study hall. He loved it! He actually talked to me every day that week! Oh my gosh, y’all, for a moment I forgot that I was fat and ugly. Okay before anyone gets bent out of shape, I WAS fat and I WAS ugly. I’m not going to rewrite history in order to be politically correct. These are facts, not opinions.
Like I said, Mike spoke to me every day in study hall for awhile after that sketch was gifted to him. Granted, he was merely talking to me about the band and their songs but that was beyond cool to me.
My euphoria was short-lived however. One day I totally broke middle school protocol when I saw him in the lunch line and I spoke to him in front of his friends. *gasp* I know, right? What was I thinking? Well, I thought we had it like that. Clearly we did not!
I will never ever forget that day. I was wearing my navy blue Charlie’s Angels graphic tee, my Sears “pretty plus” jeans (the only jeans that would fit me) and my Kmart Traxx sneakers. My hair was super short (Dorothy Hamil cut gone all kinds of wrong) and round face peppered with acne. The only thing missing were glasses and braces. I guess I dodged those somehow.
Anyway I approached this boy who was entirely out of my league and got shot down in front of everyone. He drove the point home by making some cruel jokes at my expense. My heart was broken but lesson learned.
The social ladder when I was in school was clearly defined. It was lunacy even to make an attempt to move onto a rung that wasn’t my own. To add insult to injury, I was hurt all over again when I saw this boy all googley-eyed over a couple of the popular girls. I wished more than ever that I was one of “them” instead of myself.
I wasted a lot of time and energy fantasizing about waking up magically transformed and walking into school the next day as the epitome of hotness. To use a term from my generation, I would become a stone cold fox. Mike would see me and he would literally fall all over himself to ask me to “go with him”. Of course I would play it super cool and string him along for an appropriate period of time before I gave in and let him hold my exquisitely slender hand. We would write each other notes (folded into a triangle) and sit together at lunch and everyone would watch us, envious as the day is long.
Well, THAT never happened. I woke up every day as fat and ugly as I was when I went to bed. Do I have a point? Why yes, I do! The truth is, I was unhappy with myself and instead of focusing on and being at peace with what I had going for me. I projected outward and made it about these other girls. I made a huge mistake by judging them and assuming they looked down on me simply because I was jealous of them. Honestly, I don’t think I ever pinged their radar.
Yes I was fat and ugly but I was also sweet and funny. I was an extremely loyal friend. I was socially awkward and shy but I was also smart and talented. Years later realized that the very girls that I judged and thought were acting superior were not behaving that way at all. It was all about perception. When I stopped fixating on all the things I was insecure about and quit shifting blame to the people who had what I thought would make me happy, clarity came as a result.
Envy, jealousy and self-loathing are destructive and it’s so easy to point fingers and say it’s something or someone else who is responsible for our misery. No. Sometimes it’s just an unwillingness to deal with our own baggage. I had to do a lot of growing up in terms of maturity as well as spiritually to find peace with who I am. Now I know that my identity does not rest in who is prettier, more popular, more talented, more successful or more convicted than me. My identity lies in how God sees me. And guess what? We’re all equally beautiful in His eyes.
As an adult, I reconnected with some of the “popular girls” via Facebook and our 30 year High School Reunion. They are amazing women who struggle with the same issues we all do. And Holley? She’s a lovely, godly woman just as sweet as they come and still turning heads everywhere she goes. I don’t see her through jealous eyes anymore. I see HER. Her beauty is to be celebrated, not feared or resented.
Here’s the takeaway, folks. There will always be someone out there who appears to have everything you want or think will make everything in your life perfect. Someone prettier, skinnier, wealthier, more educated with better skin, better hair, better husband, perfect kids, nicer car, etc. You may envy them for various reasons and begin to dislike them for no other reason than they have it and you don’t. It is a huge waste of time to play this game and it’s destructive. Oh, it doesn’t harm them one bit. You’re the one who pays the price.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Be you. Embrace the beautifully unique person only you can be. Most of all, thank God for how he fashioned you because you were intentional and He never makes mistakes.