Her statement was especially salient to me because I’ve lived my life based on it. I was the “almost pretty” girl growing up. People always used to say “You would be pretty if…” or “You would look better if…” In grade school, my perceived shortcomings were always pointed out to me and it was implied that if I could just change, I would be accepted or noticed. In the 6th grade, the “cool” girls suddenly became my friends because I got new sneakers. Excited to finally have their approval and desperate to keep it, I colored my shoes to give the appearance that I had a 2nd new pair. That didn’t go over too well. In the moment that I was quickly put back on “ignore” status, I realized that I had been reduced to my shoes and that if the girls had accepted me at all, it wasn’t because they liked ME. It was my external that they liked. From that point on, I rebelled against anyone or anything that tried to reduce my value to my external. Anything I poured a lot of energy into was going to be a testament to who I was on the INSIDE, and if one wasn’t interested in that, they had to go.
I never wanted a career that would centralize on my looks. I believe having such a vocation type puts you in a disposable position. If even just one aspect of your looks falls out of place, you’re done. It doesn’t matter what else you have to offer. You’re done. Additionally, people don’t take you seriously when you’re a “face” or “body.” They never see or appreciate your soul because it’s never shown. They never hear or respect your words because you don’t have a voice. It’s “give me my pretty, and leave.” Disposable. A friend of mine wanted to take a part-time gig as a stripper. He has his own site where he expresses his societal views and has a hard time getting his demographic to focus on the issues at hand, as many of his supporters tend to comment on his looks, proposition him romantically or make a joke of serious subject matter. I told him “if you think its difficult getting people to pay attention to topics now, start stripping. It’s going to go from “That cute guy with the political site” to “That’s the hot piece of a** from the club. I think he has a site.” I would be hesitant to do anything that would take away from your brilliant and beautiful mind to bring attention to your beautiful derriere.”
I wrote this passage mainly to reiterate Oprah’s point. The “cultivation of your inner-self” will not only help you with aging, but with life. There are a lot of things we either can’t control or can only influence to some extent (like our physical looks), but you have ultimate control over who you are on the inside. You have the power to define who you are internally, however you want to define it. Once you have defined who you are and have accepted who you are, it’s so empowering because no one and nothing can take your self-acceptance from you. What you know about who you are on the inside supersedes what anyone else feels or says about you. “Cultivation of your inner-self” and self-acceptance will help you get through life because when you have nothing else left, you will always be able to look within and know your soul is still there. No, knowledge of your inner being can’t pay bills, but dealing with life stressors can get more complicated and come more often when you don’t know who the hell you are or don’t like yourself. Do things that illustrate and HONOR who you are on the inside. If you are forever pouring back into your inner-self, it will be harder for it to get lost. Things that take away from the illustration and honor of your inner-self don’t deserve much (if any) of your time. Don’t allow yourself to be in situations that will cause you to wake up and not recognize your own reflection. For those that have done things you’re ashamed of or things that make you feel your value has diminished, that action was something you did. It’s not who you are. You don’t have to repeat that action or negative pattern of behavior. Repent, forgive yourself, and start your new life with your new definition of self. I suppose that’s enough preaching for today. I hope that all made sense.
“If you go to college and you’re educated and you know all the theories and you know all of the answerers, that’s one thing, but when you know who you are- that’s the beginning of wisdom.”-Beyonce`