I remember the first time a teacher told me I was intelligent. Not organized, not a good leader, not attractive, but intelligent.
It was the first time someone besides my parents had made the point to highlight something beyond the way I looked or my personality. That day, I realized that I was not confined to the walls of my appearance.
I have always struggled with knowing my intelligence, but from that moment, I worked to see beyond just what the mirror reflected.
Last week I was taken back to the mindset of having to be only be what my appearance shows. I was going through a serious of short interviews that lasted anywhere from 5-20 minutes. Through the entire process, I was struggling with the thought that I could be fully seen by what I wear or look like. Of course what you wear is a great expression of your personality, but it is one small part to a large picture.
I felt dirty and lost.
See also: 30 Things I'd Rather Be Than "Pretty"
I felt like the 15-year-old girl I used to be, straightening her hair everyday before school so that she would feel worthy of people’s time and love.
As I wiped my make-up off that night, I felt like I was wiping away my protection, my safe guard. On the outside I was presentable, love-able, attractive. But what did the inside look like? I had lost touch with what made me, me.
I sat in bed that night and questioned the source of my sadness, when it hit me.
My beauty, the beauty that I want to show off, is not only on the outside. The physical person people see is only half of my story. I am a collection of all the paths I have crossed. The words that teacher spoke to me years before struck me that night… you are more than what the eye sees.
My southern roots and prep school background formed me, but the trails I hiked, the countries I traveled, the tears I shed and the mistakes I made shaped me.
The way a person looks should never limit their intelligence or their experiences.
What I was missing during those interviews was the chance to let my inner self speak louder than my outer self, something I think I tend to do a lot.
It is so easy to judge others by what they look like on the outside, but it is easier to judge ourselves on what we see in the mirror… fat, skinny, beautiful, dull, not worthy.
I see now that it is so easy for me to hide in what the world sees, but the girl that used to hide behind a confident front and perfected appearance has opinions and passions.
I would rather value my mind over my fleeting appearance.
Valuing anything beyond appearance is counter cultural, but it is life bearing. Falling into the trap of believing that your beauty comes at the cost of intelligence, destroys the greatest parts of an individual.
Your flaws, your perfections, your physical body, are not your full story.
You are greater than your greatest hair day, and worthy of love and attention even when you look your worst.
Join me today in working to let our actions, intelligence, and story be our greatest boast.
We are more than what meets the eye (and thank goodness for that).