My husband and I found ourselves in Daytona Beach during one of its busiest times of the year…Spring Break.
Back 10 or so years ago, I was in Daytona, as a spring breaker, while in my junior year of college. I didn’t have one of those crazy spring breaker times, but I had a good time just enjoying the sun and beach. At that time I was living in Kentucky, so Florida was much warmer than where I came from. But all of that is beside the point.
Back to present day…as I was walking around and enjoying the beach with my 3-year old son, I found myself people-watching and comparing myself to the 20-something-year old girls around me.
Needless to say, the comparison did not go well in my mind, and was wreaking havoc on my self-confidence for a variety of reasons. The most obvious reason being that I no longer have the 20-something-year old body. I’m 33-years old now…I carry a little more weight than I did back in my early 20s, especially in the mid-section. Then there’s the lack of definition and tone that leaves everything a little saggier than it was in my 20s.
My comparison also lead me to believe that the 20-somethings appeared to be having a fun and carefree time. I mean they were hanging out with their friends on the beach, probably having a few drinks, listening to music, dancing, and laughing…while I was sitting in a kid’s camping chair, being asked repeatedly to put more water from the ocean into a sand pail, trying to pump discretely under a beach towel, and arguing with my son about not letting the sand blow in the wind because it keeps getting in my eyes.
I thought on all of this for the rest of the weekend. Not that it ruined my time at all, it just got me thinking.
Here’s what I finally came up with:
1) I will never again look like I did in my 20s! This is not to say that I can’t look good, it just means that I have to come to terms with the fact that I am not in my 20s anymore. I can’t go back to looking that way just as I can’t go back to looking like I’m 10 years old. I’m older now, my body has aged, I have created, grown and birthed two babies with only my body, and I have nourished those babies with my two breasts. There are just some things that change during these wonderful processes and there is no returning to the way it was before.
These changes are not something I, or any other woman, should use to beat ourselves down into feeling less self-confident. Let’s be honest, we are usually harder on ourselves than those around us are, especially when it comes to physical appearances.
So my advice in regards to this…and I am advising myself, as well as anyone who is reading…let’s give ourselves a break! Let’s look at ourselves for what we are and work on improving that in reasonable ways. Let’s strive to be healthier, and not just skinnier. Let’s strive to be stronger and more toned, and not concern ourselves so much with a number on a scale. Let’s eat better in hopes that it will make us feel better, as well as look better. Because in the end, looking good is nice, but living a long healthy life means more in the grand scheme of things. It means we will be able to play with our children longer, it means we will see them have children of their own, and maybe even see those children have their own children.
2) Fun looks different now that I am a wife and mother! Sometimes when you’re an outsider looking in, everything can seem so much more glamorous than it actually is. Yes, those 20-something-year olds were having a fun and carefree time…but only in that moment, and who knows outside of that moment, outside of that beach what they had going on in the daily grind of their lives.
Thinking back to when I was in my 20s, yes I had some fun and carefree times, but I also had responsibilities and stresses that I don’t have now. I had the stresses of college, living away from my family, serving tables at a restaurant, renting an apartment, roommates, money, etc.
Now that I’m a wife and mother in her 30s, fun looks different now. Most of the time fun is spending time with my kids playing games, coloring pictures, watching movies, running around the yard, laughing at things my 3-year old says, or just goofing off. And occasionally, my husband and I get some kid-free time and we have fun seeing a movie, going out to a restaurant, or just simply hanging out with each other without distractions.
The fun I had in my 20s…well, it was fun, but I’m still having fun in my 30s, and I’m sure fun will continue to look different with every changing season of life. So it’s best for us not to get stuck on the fun we used to have, and consider it a blessing all the fun we have now. Especially if you have young children, because it won’t be long before you are embarrassing to them as opposed to fun.
3) While I was busy comparing myself to others, my husband was busy thinking how amazing I am! Let’s be honest, as women, we are usually much harder on ourselves than those around us are, especially when it comes to physical appearances.
Whether I’m ten pounds heavier, or ten pounds lighter, with makeup, without makeup, dress clothes, or sweat pants, messy hair, or straight hair, my husband has made it very clear to me that he thinks that I’m HOT! He finds ways to tell me everyday how physically attracted to me he is, and how amazing of a wife and mother he thinks I am.
If God and our husbands love us so much that they can see past all our flaws that we tend to magnify to the 10th power, why can’t we love ourselves that way?
In conclusion, I want to challenge all of you women reading this to start challenging yourself to see yourself for who you really and truly are inside and out, keeping in mind to not be too hard on yourself and to be forgiving of your flaws. Evaluate the things you don’t like and do like about yourself, find room for improvement where it will be beneficial, but remember you’re not in your 20s anymore, mama. You are a newer version of you!
In the words of a famous philosopher:
Today you are you that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.