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Just Be

When I look in the mirror the person I see doesn't really resemble my actual appearance. My mirror reflects an awkward girl who was "too tall" ever to be a decent gymnast. Obviously, I'm not tall, but I tower over Mary Lou Retton, my childhood idol. Looking back at me is a woman who is "big-boned" and "doesn't have the eating habits of a thin person," because my freakishly tiny mother unwittingly instilled those beliefs. There is frizzy hair with roots needing highlights--okay, everyone sees that. Eyes that aren't blue enough, a nose that isn't small enough, lips that aren't full enough, thighs that aren't thin enough, breasts saggy from nursing three babies, a quick temper, too little patience, and the list goes on and on.

But when I look deeper, I see love. My heart overflows with love for my friends, family, and especially for my husband and children. Unconditional, passionate, protective, unapologetic love. The kind that brings me to tears sometimes because I just don't know what else to do with the overwhelming emotion other than to let it spill from my eyes. And empathy. So strong that sometimes I must consciously ask myself if it's my feelings plaguing me or someone else's.

Many people don't see that when they look at me. Some call me a bitch or a snob. Say that I'm superficial, mean, nasty. I admit to being all of those things and more at one time or another, but I've tried very hard to right my wrongs. Apparently I haven't succeeded, or I'm not as self-aware as I strive to be, since I don't understand what drives people to these perceptions. So I try harder to show them what a good person I am. Strangers, acquaintances, PTO moms, other drivers. Why do I need their approval?

Most of my life, I have tried to make people happy. To be whom I thought others wanted me to be. I succeeded in many ways, but not at the expense of losing pieces of my identity. I could be a chameleon fitting into whatever environment I was thrown: soccer mom, party girl, student, professional. And to some degree, we all do that. But several years ago when I stopped working, stopped going to school, and became "just" a wife and mother, I was left wondering: With all these supporting roles stripped away, who am I?

I'm not sure. I'm not sure I need to know anymore. I try to be who God put me here to be. I try to be a good mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and person. I try to be kind and compassionate and non-judgmental. I fall short all the time. In this moment, I am trying to quit focusing on who I think I should be, who others think I am, and trying just to be. Just be me.

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