I vividly remember sitting in front of the mirror, when I was fourteen and fifteen, looking intently at my face, trying to find ugly. I could not comprehend what it meant. “What is ugly?” I used to ask myself. I never saw or understood it, but it was not up to me to understand, I just needed to accept that others found me ugly. They communicated it in many ways, from directly avoiding or ignoring me to telling me straight to my face.
Interestingly, accepting their perceptions of me did not affect my perception of myself. I continued to focus on what was important to me and did not seek to look better or impress others. Something happened when I turned sixteen. I am not clear what it was that changed about me, perhaps I grew out of that awkward teen stage. All I knew was that people began to respond to me differently. Suddenly everyone found me attractive; guys would whistle to me on the street and boys would want to talk to me in school. I remember resenting this change in attitude toward me – I knew nothing had changed, I was exactly the same person – but somehow because my exterior changed, I was “worthy” of their attention.
Upon reflection, this lesson was perhaps one of the most important lessons of my life. It served to help me recognize that my exterior did not define me; Ronit was inside my body, not my body. I identified myself with my essence, my kindness, humor, intelligence, honesty and many other attributes that I possessed, not by my looks. While it hurt to be shunned and excluded from my peers, I did not allow them to influence the way I felt about myself or the way I treated others. Furthermore, it strengthened my resolve not to place any undue value on looks, rather I sought to discover the essence of individuals. “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” was not merely a conceptual truth, I understood it on its deepest level.
One might argue that I was aware of this truth prior to going through this experience, after all, why was I able to not have it affect my self esteem? That is probably accurate. But I believe we are all born with the knowledge of the True, the Beautiful and the Good. It is just that some of us are better able to heed our inner guide, thereby not allowing the outside world drown or influence our own voice. For me it comes down to authenticity. Most people have been programmed to look good or impress others and don’t realize that the only person they need to be true to is themselves. Clearly it is easier said than done particularly since we are constantly assaulted by the extraordinary media marketing machine. This machine created and produced by major corporations to sell their products, from beauty products, to cars, to latest technology and on and on, serve to make money for the corporations as they continuously tap into our insecurities that we are somehow incomplete or not good enough if we don’t purchase their products. Well, I can tell you what you already know in your heart, but perhaps not in your head, none of these products will make you feel better about yourself since they drown what is truly important and real- you are whole and complete as you are! While these things may enhance the playful aspects of your lives, they are no substitute for you discovering, accepting and valuing who you are and living from that authentic space.