I’ve been trying to defeat my flaws and personal shortcomings for years. One day, it finally hit me— I will never be great.
Since as far back as I can remember, I was told that I was brilliant, good at speaking to people and terrific at building public relations. Friends and family frequently gush about how I will one day become a hotshot young lawyer. They love to speak about how I am destined to take over the world, drive a shining red Mercedes Benz, and own a posh duplex in the middle of New York.
The thought of becoming what my friends and family thought I would be excited me, but deep down, I knew I could never really accomplish the things I dreamt of accomplishing.
I am a dreamer, plain and simple. But what good is always dreaming when you never live up to your ideals?
The purpose of this article is not to talk about my dreams. Instead, I am writing to open up about my struggles with overcoming my insecurities and embracing my shortcomings.
To explain this to you in greater detail, I will draw a link between my personal struggles and that of the collective struggles women face on a day-to-day basis due to society’s insane beauty standards.
An inspirational turning of tides in today’s beauty industry
In 2017, there was a huge movement towards self-acceptance on social media. Celebrities, social media influencers and beauty gurus alike openly spoke up about their struggles with socially-constructed beauty standards.
Wave upon wave of individuals followed suit—individuals who, like me, felt that society’s beauty standards were something we could never live up to because of the colour of our skin, lack of pinkness in our lips or natural shape of our bodies.
This world-wind phenomenon became a great inspiration for me. For years, I have never felt represented. Unlike other traditional, “beauties”, I was dark-skinned, dark-haired and full-figured.
So when this movement that was happening in the beauty industry finally rolled its way onto our shores (or at least on our social media feeds), I decided to take a hard look at my own reflection in the mirror and do something about my own shortcomings.
After all, if the harsh beauty standards in Hollywood and the world over can be changed to embrace different kinds of beauty, surely I could do the same and learn to embrace my own flaws?
Learning to embrace my imperfections
Just like Hollywood and the rest of the world were beginning to embrace and appreciate different types of beauty, I started by telling myself that I would slowly learn to embrace the fact that I may never be that great litigator destined to take over the world; may never be as plastic-perfect and filthy rich as a Kardashian sister, and may never be able to afford that liposuction I needed to keep my body looking fit and amazing through the ages.
But you know what?
That is perfectly okay!
We millennials grow up thinking that everyone and his mother will end up rich, famous and beautiful one day. Since social media is something we have access to literally at a touch of a button (and approximately 80 times a day according to research!), it’s no wonder most of us are so insecure and depressed—it’s easy to feel like you’re not living up to everyone else’s lives!
But here comes the ugly truth: you will never be as rich or as awesome as the fake-happy faces on social media.
If anything, you may even find yourself living a normal, mundane life for the rest of your life — but that is perfectly okay.
It is okay not to be awesome and great. It is okay to just be... okay.
Come to think of it, if everyone ended up awesome and great, who wouldn’t be?
Society today has it all wrong. We are constantly telling ourselves that we must be happy to be successful in this world, but that’s just not the case.
The point is not to attain happiness, but to pursue it. Happiness and contentment are destinations we will never reach. Happiness and contentment are just part and parcel of life’s journey.
Pharrell was right to quote the following at the start of his latest song and music video, Lemon—
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
Don’t live your life trying to attain that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. By throwing your life away doing that, you will inevitably forget to be happy along the way.
Don’t get caught up or fooled by the façade we’re living in today, you will never find time to count your blessings.
Stay true to yourself. But most importantly, as my parents always tell me – be kind.
Note: Photo above by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash
Growing up in a big, multiracial family and coming from a legal background, Najwa Arifah Ismail has no reservations about voicing her opinions. Najwa's interests stretch from that of a quiet read by the beach to getting involved in random charity activities, dancing and cleaning the house for fun.