When I was in middle school my mom took me to a modeling agency. She had done a little modeling when she was younger and I was 5’ 9” by thirteen (take a minute to think about how much taller I was than middle school boys), so it seemed like a solid idea. I remember vividly sitting in the waiting room looking at all the beautiful pictures on the wall, feeling that nervous and excited and thinking how cool it’d be to be in one of those pictures some day. An assistant took headshots and I was ushered in to see the lady in charge. She looked at the pictures we brought, looked me up and down, and then said calmly, “It’s unlikely that she’d book, because her face is too full.”
That is when it all started for me. My battle with my body. My pursuit of worthiness. Not because being a model was that big of a deal, but because it was the first time someone told me I wasn’t good enough.
Getting into the car after that appointment I couldn’t stop flipping the sun visor down and looking at my face in the mirror. Too full? What did that mean? Too fat? I never knew I had a fat face!
“Baby fat,” my mom told me. “I was the same way,” she comforted. But it didn’t matter, something in me snapped and thus began a very long season of avoiding mirrors, falling apart over pictures of myself, and eventually ‘doing something about it’ (and I don’t mean in a good way).
Now, what is CRAZY about this is that in my lifetime I’ve received a million more compliments on my beauty than critiques, but they never seem to be enough. The moment in the modeling agency created this pit in me and I spent years trying to fill it.
The New York Times posted an article by Tony Schwartz a year ago called The Enduring Hunt for Personal Value. In it Schwartz says, “Once our basic needs are met, we human beings arguably crave value above all else. We each want desperately to matter, to feel a sense of worthiness.”
Do you ever feel that desperation?
Sometimes I wonder if that’s why we spend so much time on social media – we see it as a platform that can tell us our personal value.
The problem is though: no number of likes can make me feel good about myself for more than one, maybe two days. It’s just like when my mom would tell me that my cheeks weren’t actually chubby and that I was so beautiful - her comments weren’t enough to fill the pit within me, and the feeling we get from adoration on social media seems to evaporate as quickly as it comes, sometimes leaving us feeling even more empty. Doesn’t it?
Why is that the case? Shouldn’t praise and compliments lead to more self-esteem?
In the same article Schwartz answers this questions by saying, “We derive the greatest value not by seeking to build a better case for ourselves. Instead, we do so by understanding better what we value most – meaning, what we stand for most deeply and who we really want to be. Then we use that conviction and those skills in the service of others.” He says, “We feel best about ourselves when we stop focusing obsessively on filling our own sense of deficit. Making others feel more valued makes us feel more valuable.”
We feel best when we discover what we were made to do, who we were made to be, and then use those gifts to love other people.
This, my friends, is what Be Bona Fide is all about. We want to create a community of people that use social media to actually be social, to engage with one another, and to share our stories and lives in a way that help people know we’re in this together.
We want you to know that you don’t have to fight for your self worth, you don’t have to desperately chase after it day after day - it’s already there, right in the very fibers of your being.
Let’s work on living like we believe this.
Ready to give it a shot?
If you have a story to share about this topic please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org we want to hear and learn from you!