Today I want to talk about what it means to be beautiful. It seems like such a simple concept, but it’s one that draws out the biggest insecurities and the darkest of inner demons in so many people, particularly children and young adolescents.
What does it mean to be beautiful? Well, the thing is, there’s no right answer to that question. But, in my experiences, a lot of young people seem to primarily think beauty is skin-deep. They seem to think that beauty lies in your hairstyle and your fashion sense and your composure. When I was in middle school, I had glasses, braces, a bad sense for fashion, and I was a klutz. Well, I’m still a klutz, and fashion taste is really in the eye of the beholder, but I lost the glasses and braces a long time ago. Not that any of that matters. Because, now that I am older, I know that none of those qualities are what define a person’s beauty.
To me, beauty is confidence. If you are sure of yourself and confident in your goals in life and your morals and who you are as a person, then you are beautiful. None of that physical stuff matters. And why should it? We all come from different walks of life and engage in different experiences, and it is those experiences that shape our inner selves and it is our inner selves whom most accurately reflect who we are, not our physical bodies.
I know all this now, but I wish I knew it when I was younger. In Saint Patrick’s, all the students wore uniforms, so if girls made fun of anything, they went straight for another girl’s shoes or hairstyle. Girls often made fun of me in the schoolyard, because a low ponytail was my hairstyle of choice most days of the week. They teased me, asking if I knew any other way to style my hair and snickered when I would reply that I liked my hair that way. But I did like it that way, and why is there anything wrong with that? There isn’t!
For all children and teenagers reading this, listen. When you’re older, none of this is going to matter. Those catty girls making fun of you are jealous. Yes, jealous! Because, believe it or not, they really think you have it all together. And you do! Never conform to what someone else says is “in-fashion.” Never follow the crowd that thinks it’s the coolest. Because blending in isn’t cool. Forging your own path in life, choosing your own style, being your own person, the person you most want to be—that is beautiful! Being smart and following your passions and being kind and trying your hardest and having the courage to stand up for yourself—those are all qualities I find beautiful. Physical looks are fleeting. But inner beauty? That’s the only kind of beauty that lasts a lifetime, and that’s the only type of beauty I ever truly admire.
Shakespeare once said, “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” Well, he’s right. All the devils are here, here inside of us, hiding behind our insecurities and self-doubts. It’s time to relinquish those devils. It is time to embrace the inner beauty I know you all possess. It is time to love yourself, unconditionally, and to never second guess yourself because someone else feels you should. It is time to own your life. It is time to be confident. It is time to be beautiful.