Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Autism Answer: Beautiful, I Feel Ugly Today


Most of us have had those days, right? Our hair is flat or falling in a way we don't like, our skin has pimples or unappealing hairs in awkward places or too much flaky dryness or we noticed our teeth look particularly yellow, our bodies are bigger or smaller than we like and our clothes refuse to flatter us choosing instead to rebelliously call attention to the parts we are trying not to give attention to while doing their best to be a color that looks terrible on us, even if it looked good just two days ago. 
You know what I mean? Those days when we feel like being quiet and unseen and hopefully a shower and good nights sleep and a brand new outfit will make all the difference tomorrow. (Please say you know what I mean. It's not that I hope you also have days where you feel ugly, but I do hope I'm not so awkward and self-centered and silly that I'm the only one! tee hee!)
Now, think about those days. (Those of you that have them, and if none of you do well, um, I was just kidding? Giggle!) When you feel ugly, sort of hide, put your hand on offending blemishes and hairs, avoid standing out or apologize more than usual. These are days when we aren't actually ugly, just less physically falling together than other days. And yet much of our manner changes. And when these days last, more of our manner changes. Maybe we skip out on opportunities, putting them off till we look better. 
And our self-talk is influenced by our appearance, so on days we feel ugly we tend to tell ourselves we are ugly. Even though we aren't. Even if our outward appearance is not typically attractive, we are not ugly because of it. But when we feel ugly, we can begin to think we are ugly, and - sadly - sometimes we will treat ourselves and others around us in an ugly fashion.
Having days when we feel ugly is no big deal. Hardly worth bringing up. (And yet here we are. Here I go again. I love talking about nothing like it's something! It's my superpower.) 
But if days when we feel ugly can affect our choices, movements, and self-talk in these hardly worth talking about ways, imagine what feeling ugly every day can do? How integral to our self-talk and habits and even to our kindness it can be. 
When I was a teenager I felt certain that I was an ugly person. I worked my butt off to try and prove otherwise but was lost to know who I was trying to prove it to. I had no clue what the proof could possibly be but I wanted for it. I was cruel to myself and cruel to people closest to me. I didn't know it at the time, how cruel I was being. Well I knew some of it but not all of it. Then I spent a whole lot of years trying to put myself back together. To see myself as not an ugly person. Maybe instead as a beautiful one. 
We can't force people to believe they are not ugly. We can't make them know that - regardless of physical appearances - ugly is not something you are but someone you become. However, I honestly believe we can create an environment that encourages us to believe that. 
My youngest brother asks me what I think of his appearance often. He asks if I think he's handsome, if I think he looks young, if I think he looks cool. I always answer honestly (which is: yes he's a handsome fella!) and we always end up talking about the truth that most people who are willing to be decent to us and spend thoughtful time with us look good to us. And how we should probably remember to be decent to ourselves and spend thoughtful time with ourselves in order to look good to ourselves.
And I confess, when we've had these chats he tends to shine and look particularly physically handsome at the end of them. Smiling authentically and walking with his head up, he looks good. I think partly because he's feeling good. And all we did was spend some focused thoughtful time together. 
So when I have a day where I'm feeling ugly, I remember that it is not nothing. That I should be careful and kind with myself and not become ugly. Sure, I still try to stay in the background a bit and cover my chin hairs with my hand, but I also try to do what I can (like pluck those pesky chin hairs*) and work at not to being ugly to myself about who I am and how I look.
I remind myself of how handsome my baby brother looks when he walks away feeling comfortable and confident. I try to do that too.

And if I see an opportunity to do so, I try to reach out and be beautiful to someone. Helpful or available to listen. 

So if you or a loved one has one of those days when you feel ugly, that's beautiful. It's an opportunity to notice how you are affected and know that others around you might sometimes be making choices for similar reasons, so give them a little room to have an off day. Consider the challenge faced by people who are treated poorly, abused, pitied, and bullied because they are seen as physically ugly and make darn sure not to do that to anyone. It's uncomfortable enough to feel ugly, which most of us sometimes do I think. But to pile ugly treatment onto that is unnecessary (seriously, how does that help anyone?) and creates a thick layer of mean-fog that slows us from shining our brightest.
Maybe even, on a day where you feel ugly, appreciate that you are only having a day where you feel ugly rather than months or years. And try to keep it that way.
There is so much going on in the world - like, seriously, the list is endless! Having a day where we feel ugly is not important. 
But it's not not important either.
Because we are important. 
And we can be beautiful. Everyday, even when we feel ugly. As long as we don't allow ourselves to become ugly.
(If you read this and have never had a day where you feel ugly and it ends up affecting the way you behave then please feel free to comment with your secrets! Also, if nobody knows what I'm talking about that's because I made it all up and I'm totally kidding! ;D)
Happy Wednesday, friends!!
Here's to being beautiful even when we feel ugly!
*Raising my coffee mug*
*I am aware that chin hairs are not inherently ugly. I just don't like how they look or feel on me. So distracting! I spend half my time pulling at them with my fingers. But if you have them and are rocking them, that's fantastic! My example was a personal one. Also, here is a pic of me plucking my chin hairs. Also, why do I have a picture of me plucking my chin hairs? I'm weird.