When I was in college in NYC several million years ago, I was walking along Madison Avenue (not the fancy part but lower down in the 30’s – before it was built up and gentrified with residential real estate and actually became known as a nice neighborhood- back then it was still known to me as the best place to get “Ladies drink free margarita Tuesday nights” and mayonnaise drenched tuna sub sandwiches that could easily feed a family of four yet somehow magically i could inhale in 45 seconds tops.)
So I was walking around humming to myself ( yes I have a habit of talking and singing to myself- something i have been doing my entire life – possibly a coping mechanism for being ignored by my siblings ?) when a homeless man came out of nowhere and followed me for several blocks- calling out at the top of his lungs in the loudest voice:
“She’s ugly!” (referring to me) “you’re ugly!!!” “Ugly! Ugly! Ugly!”
This went on for innumerable blocks – an eternity to a young college gal like myself- until I ducked into a liquor store to seek shelter (no, they did not card me or kick me out- which was common back then before the meatpacking district made underage drinking less exciting to club owners) and he followed me in – simply to shout out one more time and point out to the patrons staring nearby about ME:
“ THAT GIRL IS UGGGGLLLLLY!!!!!”
Now, we all have our good and bad hair days and this was college when I was on a tight budget that mostly was used for essentials such as pizza and pot and most definitely NOT used for the nonessentials like say shampoo -and I MAY have gone through a short Goth phase -donning lipstick in shades darker than my hair – however, I have never been accused of being “ugly” before that.
There is something you need to know about the homeless men on the streets of New York – they speak the truth. They have no concern for common courtesy or need for political correctness, and they certainly have no qualms about yelling at you for giving them sushi leftovers when they hate raw fish.That being said, I am a lucky girl that was raised by a father whom for my entire 40 years of life that I was lucky enough to know him- taught me that I must do what I think is right, not pay attention to what others think of me and know that i am a smart and beautiful person.
I learned from example that I am capable of doing many things and the confidence he instilled in me has always pushed me through all aspects and phases of my life.
So, there I stood – confronted by a man who relentlessly attacked my visual appearance….I was left with two choices:
- I could believe what he had to say and decide to take it to heart and accept his opinion as true OR-
- I could choose to believe what I wanted about myself and add this to my roster of “who cares what others think of me” and become even stronger for it.
I chose the latter.
The lesson learned here is this:
We are all faced with conflict and disadvantages in life.
We can either choose to believe that it’s simply our destiny and accept the lot we are given, or we can make our own changes. Some of us choose to follow others leads and believe everything the are told.
For example, I know a guy who decided he was just destined to be fat, as he was a chubby kid, told by his pediatrician that he was just built fatter than most boys his age, and grew into a fat adult and now he has accepted that he is just destined to remain a fat person. He eats poorly and does not exercise. He is very depressed.
I know another guy who was very heavy when we worked together years ago and now i see his Facebook status is loaded with pictures of each of his many marathons he has finished now that he has lost 80 pounds and eats clean. He is now married and has kids and he looks amazing- but most importantly he is happy!!!
Some people accept what they are told and others, like myself, make our own informed decisions and do what we can to improve our situation.
You can believe that because your mother had a big butt then your big butt is just genetic, or you can get off of it and do some squats! Up to you. Entirely.
I always went the long way around if it meant i could learn something from the experience.
I teach my kids to ignore the bullies and that “sticks and stones may break their bones but names will never hurt them” is our mantra. (They love to use this power against each other and call each other every bad word in their 6 and 8 year old vocabulary…after all- it doesn’t matter what people call us- they are simply words. )
Life is full of people that will challenge you and attack your character, your looks whatever you allow them to….if you are strong minded and believe in YOURSELF than the bullies of the world (be it in business, in school, on the playground or in your Church or Temple) will not matter.
Believe in yourself and take it upon YOU as YOUR own responsibility to improve if you want to, no one else’s opinion matters.