Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Intelligent, Beautiful You

by Amy Ruhlin
As the year moved from 2013 to 2014, I played one of those silly word games on Facebook. A square made of rows of letters, with instructions to look for words, and a notice that "the first three words you see, will be yours in 2014."
I'd seen these games before. I'd scanned the rows before. I'd found words before, but I dismissed them. Always.
But this time, they would not be dissed. They attached themselves to my underbelly. They entered my bloodstream. They became a part of my cells.
They had messages: Can you take us in now? Finally? We've been here all along, you know. You just didn't see. You were busy. You were young. You were listening to lies.
Intelligent. Beautiful. You.
I'd never owned those words. Most women don't.
We try, we really do. But we listen to a culture that likes to tell us what is smart and what is beautiful. We think we know, but deep down, we don't really feel it. We never measure up. We're never enough.
But then we turn 50.
And we realize that always having the correct answers to the questions is not intelligence. We now know that "I don't know" is often the smartest response of all. And we're not afraid to say it. We know that not knowing is where real learning begins.
We know that perfectionism is a fool's game. We've learned that our flaws are what make us beautiful.
We know that mistakes are how we grow, not how we fail. We don't care what others think of us, as long as we like the company we keep when we are alone.
We listen to our gut and we follow our instincts. We find our voice and we speak our truth, at least some of the time. Even if it is unpopular. Even if it makes another feel betrayed, because we refuse to betray ourselves.
We know how much kindness matters. And that is very smart. And beautiful.
So Happy New Year Post-50s. Happy New Year to intelligent, beautiful you.