Lessons from an Old Philosopher on a Saturday Morning

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It seems as though my whole life I’ve been on this unending quest to find beauty.

Growing up, I always thought that if I could just change that one thing about myself, I would be beautiful. Over time, that one thing became one more thing and before I knew it, I wanted to change everything about myself. My weight. My body. My face. My personality. The way I spoke…. you get the picture.

However, every time I succeeded in changing that one thing, I still seemed to come up short. I looked in the mirror and still saw everything that I lacked – beauty.

I wish I could say that I’ve dismissed the search to move on to more important things.

I haven’t.

Here’s the thing – I think we are all hardwired to search for beauty. We just make the mistake of searching for it in the wrong places.

For me, I mistook true beauty to mean physical perfection. If I could get down to a certain weight, I was convinced that I would be deemed “beautiful”. If I could fit into a certain size, I was convinced that the world would see that I was “beautiful”. If I could look into the mirror and see the face of a polished movie star looking back at me, I was convinced that I had reached my final goal: “beauty”.

Beauty is a lot more complex than I originally thought it to be.

Even when I met my goals, I still found myself lacking. I still found things that could be improved upon. I still saw bits of “ugly” underneath the things I deemed beautiful.

So, in an effort to reach my final goal, I kept changing. I kept searching for the one thing that would finally allow me to earn the right to be called “beautiful”.

It took a long time for me to finally realize that I’m never going to find that one thing. Because that one thing doesn’t exist. It never did.

Being beautiful doesn’t mean meeting today’s standards of physical beauty. It doesn’t mean transforming your body to appease the masses. It doesn’t mean neglecting yourself.

It means finding yourself.

Knowing who you are and what you are about is the most beautiful thing in the world. Think about it. Who are the people you admire the most? Are they the celebrities that walk in and out of your T.V. screen? Are they the popular kids in your class who seem to have it all together? Are they the people you find yourself envying as you walk on by?

Or are they the people who don’t have a care in the world? Are they the people who have defined themselves by who they are and nothing more? Are they the people who love unconditionally, who care deeply and listen closely? Are they the people who have allowed themselves to be made whole from what was originally intended to break them?

To me, the latter are more beautiful. The ones who don’t care what other people think of them. The ones who keep going despite the obstacles in their way. The ones who redefine what it means to be beautiful.

These are the people I want to know. This is the person I want to be. If at the end of the day I can say, “I am who I am” and not be afraid, I will know that I have finally reached what I’ve been searching for.

To search for something you already have is pointless; but to be the person you were meant to be…. That is the most beautiful thing in the world.

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