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What Matters Most
(Beauty is where you find it)  By Lyne Ford

  Your alarm clock beeps at 7am, warning you that it is time to get up and start your day. After those last few minutes of cuddling in bed, you slowly, and groggily touch your feet to the floor. How many outfits do you try on before you choose one? What things do you think to yourself as you try one on, but then discard it? How many different hair styles did you try? Up, down, braided, pinned back? Or did you finally decided to let it fall natural? Did you put on layers of make-up, redoing your winged eyeliner over and over again until it was perfectly perfect? Or did you paste on layers of foundation to hide those freckles, possibly a birthmark? How many times this morning before leaving the house did you look in the mirror and wonder: “Am I good enough”?
  We all do it. Look in the mirror and analyze every detail about ourselves. We pick and prod at everything that is seemingly wrong or imperfect. Your nose is too big or your eye lashes are too short. Your ears are too small and your teeth are too long. But if you aren’t finding beauty as you look into your own eyes, then do you really know what beauty is at all?

  Those A+’s you earn in school are beautiful. The jokes you find funny, the way you spend your free time, the things you say and do and think are beautiful. Being beautiful is not what makes you unique. It is being unique that makes you beautiful. That quirky laugh and small lisp. The stutter you have when you speak and the overuse of the words “uh” and “uhm” in your sentences. Your awkward conversation starters and silly puns. Your hobbies and your favorite songs. Everything that makes you, you, is unexplainably beautiful, and why? Because all those things that make you different from the girl next door, is what makes you so exquisite.
  It is not your best friend or the boy you like in class who determines if you hold beauty. It is not your mother or your father or your three-year-old cousin who is too blunt. It is you and only you who can perceive how lovely you are. You decide if you like your freckles enough to leave the foundation in the drawer. You’re the one who chooses if your eyes are ‘pretty enough’ or if you’re ‘skinny enough’. You choose if you’re ‘thick enough’ or ‘tall enough’. At the end of the day, when your lying in bed thinking, never forget that it is your choice to make. Are you enough for yourself? And if not, how will you make sure that you soon will be? Rather than answering that last question with things that you think are “wrong” with you, answer with things that you think will be better for you. Should you maybe eat a home cooked dinner instead of McDonalds tomorrow night? Should you maybe get lotion and face wash to clear your complexion instead of covering it with foundation tomorrow?
  Every day, simply ask yourself how you can be the best version of you possible, whether it is on the inside or the outside. Do not do these things for the cute boy in your class or the girl who thinks she’s better than you. Do these things for you, because it is you who gets to decide if your beautiful, nobody else. You need to ask yourself what matters most. Whose opinion do you value more? Yours or society’s? Because you can mold yourself to fit everyone else’s expectations, but when you finally take off the make up before you get in the shower, and peel off the designer clothes everyone else loves so much, will you be happy with you? After spending so much time proving yourself to other people, will you be able to look yourself in the eye and be happy with what you see?
  Beauty is where you find it, and finding it happens within yourself.