There is a 10 year photo challenge circulating – one in which you share photos 10 years apart to see how you’ve aged. I could post photos of me 10 years ago and me today, but I won’t. It’s not because I am chubbier now, it’s not because my hair is sprinkled with grey streaks, it’s not because I have the kinds of dark circles under my eyes that 2 kids in 2 years brings. It’s not because I only wear leggings now, it’s not because I just don’t have the time or energy for the biweekly mani/pedi I grew accustomed to in my 20’s. It’s not because I have a bit of a double chin that cheekily reminds me how damn much I love chocolate after 7pm. And most importantly, it’s NOT because I’m embarrassed that I HAVE aged 10 years.
It’s because photos are 2 dimensional. They show you nothing except the state of your physical shell. And what all these photos don’t show is how much your mental state can change in 10 years. 10 years ago, I’d venture to guess I was at my mentally unhealthiest state. The end of a long term relationship sent me into a toxic rollercoaster of crash diets, crippling insecurity, damaging romantic flings, and a general feeling of worthlessness. Was I pretty? Yeah. Did I turn heads? Sure. Was I healthy on the inside? NO.
And now? For the first time in a long time I can truly express how emotionally strong I feel. My insecurities shrink by the day, as I am acutely aware of how my projection can affect my daughters. I wake up happy and healthy, next to a man who sees my stretch marks as remnants of how hard my body worked to grow our kids and not evidence that I let myself go. I love myself. I am finally seeing all the cool fucking things I have to offer as a woman/wife/mother/friend and I refuse to waste even one more second on anyone who doesn’t agree.
So yeah, I’ve aged. I don’t look as asethetically pleasing (as dictated by our broken society) as I did when I was 23 years old. But I am the healthiest and happiest (physically and emotionally) that I have ever been, and that doesn’t translate well to photographs. I have never been more excited to have aged 10 years emotionally.
So I won’t join this challenge – and before you look at someone’s perfectly curated photo set and wish you still “looked that good” – take a step back and evaluate your physical being on a bigger scale. Because comparing your real life to someone’s highlight reel with no understanding of what’s happening behind the scenes is silly. This is me. Chubby and stretched marked and sleep deprived and fucking HAPPY.
Happy Saturday, friends.