From the time I was 12 years old up until— well, quite recently, there was one word that probably described my life:
Wait— that’s two words. Oh well, you know what I mean.
It wasn’t that I thought guys were irresistibly sexy or super awesome or even particularly interesting (sorry, guys). In fact, they were kind of smelly.
It was more that— well, for some strange reason, their attention (or lack thereof) had somehow grown to become the focal point of my life.
In junior high, it was like “Let’s go to the mall and look for some cute skaters.” (I mean, long greasy hair and Jncos hanging off the mid ass— WHAT could be hotter?!)
Which then became “Let’s go to the college baseball game and scope out some hotties.”
Which then became “Let’s go to the bars and wait for guys to hit on us so we can feel special.”
And, well, it never really ended. Even when I was in a relationship, my life was all about “the guy.”
I don’t think I’m alone here, ladies.
Am I the only one who finds it weird that not once in my “girlhood” did my friends or I mumble something like “Let’s go to the mall because I actually need to buy some boots” or “Let’s go to the baseball game and truly— um, pay attention” or “Let’s go out to the bars just because I want to get super f—d up” (oh, wait a second— I think that one happened).
But in all seriousness, had I ever known a sense of my own self? Or was just about everything I did dependent upon seeking a guy’s reaction?
It wasn’t just in my choice of social events, either— it was in everything, from the clothes that I wore to the words that I said to the way I carried myself. I had a classic case of what I like to call the WWAGT (“What Would A Guy Think”) Syndrome, perpetuated by Cosmo magazine and MTV and— well, every single woman I’d ever idolized (including Britney Spears and her red hot catsuit outfit).
“What would a guy think of these jeans? Of this dress? What would a guy think if I got straight As??” Without ever really realizing it, I found myself asking these questions at every turn.
Somehow, men had become what defined me.
If they saw worth in me, I saw worth in myself, although it was a false sort of worth— the kind that was based on a carefully groomed exterior and not from the true self within.
And if they didn’t— well, neither did I.
It was as if I had a radar pointing constantly outward, searching, seeking, scanning for my next source of definition, as if I were saying, “Tell me who I am” (and it’d better be “Dayumm. Girl. Sexy.”).
Power, as it turned out, was to have the approval of dudes. It was to be Fergalicious, bootylicious, so delicious.
I didn’t see that I had it all wrong, though— that in seeking this approval, I was in fact turning over my power. I couldn’t see that in revolving my life around someone else’s opinions and reactions and standards, I was actually experiencing the ultimate loss of power— I was allowing my very center to lie outside of myself.
This, my friends, is the Great Cosmo Hoax: that in living our lives based around men, we are in fact turning over the very power and magnetism and love that we believe we’re receiving.
* * *
I’m not sure how or when things changed, but somehow they did.
I didn’t wake up one day a different person— instead, it happened over time (and it’s still happening now).
But what’s changed is that these days, more often than not I find myself doing things simply for the sake of doing them.
I go out to have a drink with a friend not to scan the room for guys, but simply because I actually want to have a drink with a friend. We laugh, we talk, we have fun. I am fully present with her.
I go to Pilates class not to lose weight or for the sake of looking hot for a guy, but simply because it gives me a sense of calm and well-being and because I FREAKING LOVE PILATES.
I go on vacation and I’m more intrigued by the sparkling waters and the wonders of nature than by the wonders of that oiled up dude who’s partying on the beach.
I realize that this all sounds awfully fundamental, and it is— excruciatingly so. But for such a long time, my life wasn’t like this. I couldn’t enjoy the inherent experience of anything because I was so focused on the outcome, on the result, on the approval of someone outside of myself. If I took a walk in nature or went to Pilates or did anything at all on my own, what was the point? There wasn’t one— I needed someone else there in order to experience myself. My sense of “self” was completely derived from what others (in this case, guys) reflected back at me.
Today, this has begun to change– it’s beginning to come from within.
And you know what?
The more that I find this sense of self— the more that I allow my focus to rest on what makes me feel whole and centered and alive instead of focusing on being “sexy” or on a guy’s reaction— something interesting has happened: the quality of guys who approach me has skyrocketed.
They are guys who are more interested in who I am than in how hot I am. They are guys who open the door for me, who ask me out on dates instead of out to the bars. They call when they say they will. They are guys who respect me.
Because the funny thing is, people see in you what you see in yourself.
When you’re able to come from a place of worthiness, from a place of self-approval rather than a place of seeking approval, guys can sense it (that is, the right guys can sense it). When you don’t have to “prove” your sexiness with skimpy outfits and perfectly coiffed hair— when you just know deep down that your womanhood is inherently sexy, guys can sense this, too.
Easier said than done? Abso-freaking-lutely.
But even if it takes a lifetime of work, my wish for you is simply this: that you will come to know that you are so (so, so, SO) much more than what a guy does or doesn’t see in you.
That you will come to see that your sense of self, of wholeness, of aliveness— that you that lives deep within you— is so much more beautiful than the sexiest cover model in the world.
Yeah, I mean it— in the whole entire world.
Like, you could travel across the globe, from London to New York to Ibiza, and there would never be— never could be— even an inkling of external glamour that could ever outshine your soul.
That is how beautiful— how precious— how inherently, spectacularly, unimaginably worthy you are.
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[Authors note: guys are not evil. Girls are not pathetic. Neither of those is the point of this post. We are all beautiful creatures, worthy beyond measure. Share the <3 <3, please.]
[Image by Helga Weber]