It was in 8th or 9th grade. We were going to be hosting a huge career day with classes being offered on a wide variety of professions. Everything from creative writing, teaching, law enforcement, engineering - you name it. We had space open to sign up for 3-4 classes. There were so many to choose from, so MANY I was interested in. I immediately signed up for a couple of my favorites - creative writing, and teaching - but I had one space left. There were several classes I was interested in, several classes that would help me to learn about and perhaps cultivate my interest in areas I felt I had talent. But almost without thinking about it, I penciled in the name of the final class I would be taking. Modeling. Was I honestly interested in becoming a cover girl? No. Not even close. However, every 13 - 14 year old girl who considered herself "popular" was signing up for that class. Was I popular? No, not really. But I guess I kinda wanted to be.
I remember sitting near the back on the far right side of the classroom, listening to the professional fashionistas expounding the details of whether skin has a cool or warm undertone, what fabrics compliment your coloring, how to properly condition your hair, and what seasons you should avoid wearing white, and all the while I was sitting there - not really enjoying myself, but wishing against hope that one of those "experts" on beauty would turn my way and say "You're pretty!".
Well, that never happened, obviously. Why was that important to me then? Why was it more important to me than taking a class I was interested in, or a class I could have benefitted from? Did their opinion matter to me THAT much? I'm not sure - maybe it did. But I think having them say it in front of every popular girl in my grade would have mattered even more :)
Funny how superficial I was then - how so many of us were. Looking back, I would say that I was fairly pretty. I certainly didn't think so then, and I'm not sure I would have seen TRUE beauty if it jumped up and bit me on the nose! I was focused on the wrong thing.
Strange how, 17 years later, I still find myself focusing on the wrong things at times. I consider myself more mature than my 13 year old counterpart, but am I really? How often do I look at the cover of a magazine and immediately berate myself for getting out of shape? How often do I look at a friend's home and think mine is just pain ugly? How often do I see someone wearing the fancy clothes, driving the fancy car, and secretly wish deep down that I could be in her place? How stupid is that? How short-sighted?
I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what is beautiful. I mean TRULY and LASTINGLY beautiful. It's funny what comes to mind. My daughter helping her 4 year old sister put a My Little Pony band-aid on her little finger. A good samartian pulling over to the side of an iciy road to tow a stranger out of the ditch. A husband rolling over in the night to stroke his wife's back after they've had an argument. A woman reaching for the hand of a woman sitting beside her in Relief Society, who is obviously touched by the topic being discussed. These things are beautiful to my mind. As Mary Poppins might put it - it's the tuppance that buys the things that are most meaningful.
You can call it a resolution - I'll call it a goal, one that I plan to write down and chart my progress - but I plan to look for the beauty in life. Instead of anticipating the coming storms, I plan to look for the tiny rays of sun, then hold on for dear life until the darkness passes. I plan to TRY to see the cup as half full :) I want to follow the counsel of Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley when he said,
" I am suggesting that as we go through life we try to 'accentuate the positive'. I am asking that we look a little deeper for good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort."
I am going to apply this to my interaction with those around me, but also to how I view (and speak to) myself. I find I am often sarcastic when I talk about my talents, and especially when I talk to others or myself about how I look. However, I don't believe true beauty is found in how we look, but in what we DO. I want to be beautiful because I serve others, because I am cheerful, because I uplift and bless. In short, I want to be beautiful because when people look at me, they will see a reflection of Christ shining through.
Wow. Is that a tall order? I think, for me, it is. I hope that at the very least, I can be a bit more "beautiful" by the end of the year than I am right now. THAT I can do.