Loving My "Flaws"

Remember the angst of adolescence and young adulthood? The desire for someone else’s physical shape, another person’s personality traits, the ability to wear a hot trend or fashion our hair into the latest, coolest style?

Me too.

And I remember my frustration that trying and wishing wouldn’t make it so.

We all have areas that could use improvement—after all, personal growth means stretching out our kinks—yet most of what makes us unique can’t and shouldn’t alter. Growing to accept or even love the permanent or not-worth-changing aspects of ourselves is one of the joys of getting older—ahem, I mean, having increased life experience.

I don’t want to be just like everyone else. I just want to be a better me.

Over time, I’ve learned to love aspects of myself that I once wasted ridiculous amounts of energy trying to change:

  • Gossamer hair. My spider-web fine, stick-straight hair always looked stringy no matter how often I brushed it and wouldn’t hold a curl or any sort of hair mabob (whether banana clip—remember those?—or ponytail). I chopped it off in eighth grade. Know what? Short becomes me. I love it. And it’s a recognizable, strong personal-brand signature.
  • Muscular legs. Credit genetics: For my entire life, I’ve had body-builder legs without effort. Rarely can I zip boots over my calves. Only certain types of pants work over my quadriceps. Recently, coming down the stairs at the gym, someone on the first floor said her eyes popped at the muscles in my legs—and one of the trainers teased me about steroids. Once upon a time, I would have felt intense embarrassment, even though they meant to compliment. Today, I’ll take powerful legs over skinny gams that struggle to run, hike, climb, and jump.
  • Curves. I came of age in an era when everyone raged about a waifish look. The ideal: Kate Moss. And I tried. Yet no matter how much I tried to slim down, even at my leanest I had hips and a tummy. Again, we can’t fight genetics. Thin comes naturally for some people. I’ve grown to appreciate having a body that’s as healthy as I can get it and that allows me to participate in some pretty rockin’ fun athletic activities.
  • Introversion. I still envy my brother’s life-of-the-party ability. He’s a natural. Everyone loves him—and they should. (I do.) I used to be shy, but fearing interaction limited me, so I got over it. Yet introversion is baked in. And you know what? I think the world need introverts just as much as it needs extroverts. And what more perfect personality for someone who loves to read and write than one that finds time alone refreshing?

Once upon a time, I've probably disliked far more about myself than I can remember. But realizing that I am the sum of all my parts—even the less desired ones—and that I like myself fantastically well free my energies to improve the things that keep me from having the best life I can get.

Would my world truly get better if I had stem-thin legs and a stick-straight figure? Or voluminous wavy hair and a booming personality? Nope.

What have you learned to love about yourself?