Having just written about uninvited commentary, I found this gem too awesome not to share.
I went to the grocery store in my requisite San Francisco Giants cap and Ray-Ban sunglasses. Upon leaving, I chatted with the checker about the usual inane topics. Knowing my health status, she asked if Rituxan (rituximab) affected my hair growth. Before I could answer, the elderly woman behind me grasped my arm. She then leaned over and whispered that I should try a little harder to pretty myself.
Regardless of my reaction to randomness, I rarely miss a beat. I patted her hand then assured her that I should, but I do not.
This still makes me laugh. And I am relieved that it does. Not only does she remind me of my beloved and very outspoken grandmother, I know she meant absolutely no harm.
Nevertheless, the topic of our encounter gave me pause.
I have always taken pride in my appearance, yet my notion of beauty has been an evolution of sorts. My 20s were all about following society’s standard of beauty. My vanity emanated from lack of self-esteem.
Self-exploration and discovery accurately describe my 30s. I experimented with notions of beauty and found my own developing alongside a newfound confidence. I was OK.
It is no accident that my diagnosis came as I entered my 40s. The quiet certitude and self-love were no doubt borne from a forced change of pace. Kindness and humility became my litmus of beauty, not only in myself but in everyone. Beauty is unseen but overwhelmingly felt. I am most beautiful when I shine my light on others in hopes it will liberate them to feel similarly.
I am beautiful when my spirit is open, giving, grateful, and kind. The times I choose happiness when the antithesis is a powerful persuader, I am beautiful. Gone are the days when my hair, nails, or face dictate my self-worth. I no longer aspire to look better. I aspire to be better.
I welcome the fluidity of finding that my wants and needs align. I am grateful for the redirection of sacred energy. Instead of chasing wrinkles and weight, I chase golden retrievers and volunteer with our local rescue.
In the past decade, I have worked harder than ever to pretty myself. While I am a bit curvier, I am beautiful in my newfound love for nutrition. While I have a few more lines on my face, I am beautiful knowing my laughter and happiness are indelible. While I have a few more grays throughout my hair, I am beautiful in the knowledge that growing old is a privilege, not a right. While I may have a few more infusions and appointments than I would like, I am beautiful in my gratitude for health insurance and the financial security to pay for my treatments.
Lest you think I always have an uncanny ability for perspective, think again. Some days I choose to, while others I sit in the “yuck.” Overall, however, my choices have turned to habits, and those habits then became my being. Developing and trusting those choices created a confidence in and love for myself. I am worth it. You are, too.
Is there anything more beautiful?