May 6, 2011

The 30 Day Challenge: Step 5- See Yourself

I think most people at one point or another have what we like to call an “awkward stage.” Mine was more like an awkward saga.

It started in fourth grade with the perm heard round the world, and it lasted until oh I don’t….college? Yea, it took about that long for that perm to wear off….I’m pretty sure that stuff had kryptonite in it.

I was gangly. And awkward. And I had a huge gap between my two front teeth. My head was about two times the size of my body (mostly because of the enormous size of my hair….due to the uber perm) and my Fashion Bug clothes were not as fashion forward as one might have hoped.

In short, I was the ugly girl.

And the kids at school made sure to remind me of that. Daily. I was written on, given a super clever name that rhymed with mine, and even had gum put in my hair. Or y’know, maybe it was just sucked in by the gravitational force of the perm. We’re still not sure about that one.

But I lived it every day. And there was never any doubt. *I* was the ugly girl.

Now to be fair, by high school things were looking up. And from the outside, I had all the things that Teen Disney movies are made of. Captain of the Cheerleaders. President of my Class. Prom Committee Chairperson. Just where was Zac Ephron when you needed him? Singing in the locker room, I guess.

But outside changes or not, on the inside I still felt like her. The girl with gum in her hair. And when I looked in the mirror, it was still her face that I saw.

Truth be told even to this day, sometimes when I pass by a shop window and see my reflection it is her face I see staring back at me.

The ghosts of who we were are always with us.

But if we are to truly move forward as we chase this life we love, we have to start looking to the face of the future instead of always living in the past.

Step 5: See Yourself For Who You’re Becoming, Not Who You Always Have Been.

Whether it’s getting out of debt, building up a business, getting in shape, falling in love, starting over, going back to school, or all of the above….you cannot see yourself as the person you always have been, the person always getting it wrong, if you ever want to really change things. If you’ve tried to get in shape 100 times before and 100 times you’ve failed, well that’s who you were. And he or she is no longer with us. They’re off hanging out with my former self picking gum out of each other’s hair. The person you’re becoming is ready to stick with it this time.

The real reason we have to say goodbye to the past versions of us is this: If you head out in pursuit of these dreams carrying the weight of who you were, of every mistake you’ve ever made, then the very first time you hit one of those setbacks we talked about in Step 4 it’s going to be way too easy for you to just give up. To say to yourself, “Well, I’m always the person who gets it wrong, ” or ” Things never do work out for me,” or “This is how it’s always been, I guess this is how it always will be.”

Suze Orman has a great quote that we talk about in Spread the Love. She says, “So you need to make a promise to me. I need you to agree that the past is past and we are going to focus on the future. Whatever mistakes you feel you’ve made, whatever moves you wish you had or hadn’t made are irrelevant. We are free to move forward only when we remove the emotional shackles of regret.”

So here’s your action plan for Step 5 and as we step out into the rest of these 30 days. Write out every bad thing you tell yourself about who you’ve always been and how that will always stop you from becoming who you want to be. Now cross them out and throw away the sheet. We’re done with that.

Now here’s to who we’re really becoming. I’d say it’s a beautiful thing.
So much love,

Lord Almighty, I cannot believe I just posted that picture. I’m having heart palpitations. You guys must know that I really, really love you to put that up there for the world to see. So tell me, who is it that you’re becoming?

  1. Chelsea McGowan

    I am becoming a woman who is ok with not being a size 4, because the two children that helped me become a size 10 are SO WORTH IT.
    And hopefully, along with that, I will become a woman who doesn’t avoid mirrors like the plague and cry when I see pictures of myself. It’s a slow process, but I’m trying.

    (PS, I had the perm, too. I’m not brave enough to blog it, so go you!)

  2. Deborah Zoe

    Mary, I feel your pain. I was BORN with the perm!!! — thanks for posting this. I too often get trapped in the past instead of focusing on the future.

  3. Julia R

    Mary, you are and were adorable and beautiful (perm or no perm). Thanks for yet another incredible post! I’m loving this challenge series :)

  4. Kat

    I’m getting a pedicure and tears are running down my face. But, you weren’t ugly; you were, and still are, adorable. xoxo

  5. dawn beirnes

    I feel ya’! I had red hair, freckles, my mother dressed me way too "fancy" for my taste, and basically stopped growing in the 4th grade! (I’m 4’9…holla!) I was reminded of how I wasn’t pretty constantly (school, even my mother), and it still sticks with me today. Low self-esteem? How about NO self-esteem? But I’m working on that…..daily! You are gorgeous Mary!!!!

  6. Jil

    beautiful honesty. it is pretty incredible how strongly the past can stay with us. and being able to let go is so freeing (but so hard!)

  7. Lacy Dagerath

    Ahh! I wish I would have known you back then.. so you could have SEEN you were not alone! Except..I was the ugly fat kid! Now I am a beautiful curvy woman! It took 29 years to realize that! Thank you for showing that the rest of us who feel that same way are not alone. YAY for blossoming!! And may we continue to do so… until are last moment here!

  8. Nicole

    Mary, you are beautiful! I was born with a perm too, but now I embrace my curls. I had a HUGE gap in my teeth, but on purpose…I had an expander in the roof of my mouth that my mom had to painfully crank every night. It was to expand the roof of my mouth for braces. Awful! I like to think I am becoming someone that I think is beautiful and acceptant of who God created me to be.

  9. Glenda

    Sniff… thank you Mary – you are such a beautiful inspiration!!

  10. Kristin

    That was beautiful. :)

    I’m becoming a super-awesome photographer, darn it.

    So glad you’re doing this series.

  11. Stacey Windsor

    Mary – I’m sitting here crying and feeling like this post was written just for me. Thank you for telling it like it is. This is me in a nutshell right now, trying to get over the past and look forward to a beautiful future. There is a long email coming your way today! P.S. – I’m guilty of the poodle perm too. It was the cool thing to do in the 80’s…

  12. Liz Bedwell

    Maybe its just so much of your inner beauty that you put forth in your posts, but I think that little girl in the photo is quite cute. Thank you for continuing on with this….you seem to know all the right things I’ve been meaning and wanting to do for a long time, but that I just haven’t made a priority. So here’s my chance. Thanks again!

  13. JoAnn

    Mary, you are a beautiful writer! And you are a gorgeous woman!

  14. Evie Perez

    Aww Mary, what a cutie! Thanks for sharing your pictue with us. On to who I am: I am…a girl that is content with what I have, a girl that follows her dreams, that falls down and gets back up, loving life to the fullest, living an adventure, fufilling God’s purose, make people happy with beautiful pictures, loving my dog Novi, and loving who I am :) Happy Friday.

  15. Jennifer Bacchiocchi

    You are so beautuful, inside and out. It is amazing how those feelings stay with us. I often feel like I’m in junior high when I try to put myself out there with people in the wedding industry trying to grow our business. I turn into a blubbering, awkward girl with braces and glasses on the inside. Oh, and when I meet someone I truly admire, I turn into that on the outside, too. Like when I introduced myself to you and Justin at the CTPPA convention. I went back to John shaking my head. But you guys were so sweet and gracious. I know this step is going to be truly important. Thank you!!

  16. Michelle

    I’m becoming a more confident and proactive person, or at least I hope I am! I used to think I was invisible. Like, literally. I thought no one even knew I existed, that no one knew my name, that no one could even see me. I’m realizing more and more that when I put myself out there, people see me, they know my name, they hear me. Being an introverted person is definitely a disadvantage in this profession, but I’m making strides. I like this step. Never thought this way before, but I’m certainly going to implement it in my life starting right now!

  17. MM

    @Michelle: I see you!! :)

  18. Ashley Terry

    Love this so much! Couldn’t agree with you more, and it’s something we all need to hear. Thank you!

  19. Jenny Sun

    Hi mary!! I saw you and Justin at your talk during wppi 2010 (day 2!) and I just have to say you two are an inspiration :) Thank you for being so wonderful inside and out :) Oh, and Mary – i LOVE your cardigan. Please tell me where you got it! hehe :)

  20. katie b

    you are beautiful!!

  21. Ray

    It’s funny (in a sad way) the things that stay with us from childhood. The old scars. I have them…I imagine we all do. I’m sorry for yours. But your are more beautiful (inside and out) and stronger now than ever. I liked this: "They’re off hanging out with my former self picking gum out of each other’s hair." And I loved this as well: "…we have to say goodbye to the past versions of us is." I think about that sometimes. How we have to say goodbye to our old selfs. Tons of them in a lifetime. It’s sad and scary, but in order to grow…? Yes it must be done. The saying goodbye part…I’m trying to get there. Thank you for these great entries.

  22. Roxie

    I loved this post! :) Inspiring and Motivational! :)

  23. donna good

    how true. thanks for sharing your wisdom. btw…you look great.

  24. francine

    i was just crying over the issues that i still have from my childhood. i started a "get in shape for real this time" plan yesterday and reading this was such an encouragement and a blessing. thank you so much :)

  25. Tiffany

    I totally know how you felt! In high-school I actually had a girl come up to me and say "how can you stand to be so ugly!" Of course I was too shy to say anything back! I only wish that I had the confidence that I have now back then. thanks for sharing!

  26. Asha

    Is it too strange to think that someone you have never met shares a soul with you? I swear, you always say what I need to hear when I need to hear it. Thank you, Mary, for being you. And for encouraging me to be me. :)

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