Keeping up appearances for the benefit of strangers

When I was in my 20’s, my physical appearance was very important to me. After all, we live in a society that often judges a person based more on what they look like, rather than who they are.

With puberty plumping me up like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man, rendering me incredibly insecure, I became self-conscious when it came to my appearance – even after I eventually trimmed down.

But today, at the age of 40, my perspective on so many things in life has drastically changed. The other day was the first time I actually stopped myself and said, “I’m okay with the way I look now.”

Yes my hair is greying (though I’m happy it’s still up there); yes I could stand to probably lose a few pounds and exercise a little bit more; yes my face doesn’t appear as youthful as it did 20 years ago.

But today I know something few of us will ever fully embrace or comprehend.

Douglas Pagels said it best: “I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be, but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see.”

My physical appearance has nothing to do with my character, integrity, morals or affections.

Those who continually search for The Fountain of Youth, relying on plastic surgeons, heavy cosmetics and hair dyes to produce a more youthful appearance, fail to realize an essential truth.

While such practices might improve what they “see” in the mirror, it will never change who they “are” to the people around them.

We spend so much of our lives more concerned with what the strangers of the world think about us, that we discredit the unconditional love and acceptance we’ve continually received from those special people in our lives.

It’s human nature to look at the reflection in the mirror every now and then and remember back to a time when we had less wrinkles, more hair and a flatter stomach.

But there comes a point in one’s life when it’s time to be happy with the person you see in the mirror today – and perhaps more importantly with the person you are on the inside. The older I get the more I realize that it’s the only “appearance” that truly matters.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”