It happened for me on a Tuesday afternoon.
It was work “school picture” day as I call it. The day when a professional photographer comes to my law firm to take pictures of us for our firm’s website. Picture attorneys sitting in front of a khaki background smiling…well sort of smiling.
This particular day is always a source of great stress for me, as I am immediately thrown back to those days when you would open up the white envelope of school pictures only to find out your bangs were in your eyes or your pimples were not airbrushed out.
Ugh…school picture day.
Well, work “school picture” day is even worse, because I don’t get a yearly shot to make it right. Nope, we only take the pictures every so many years. So, if you get a bad shot, get ready to see that picture looking back at you on websites, conference brochures, and social media sites.
But no pressure right.
My prior work “school picture” had haunted me for years.
Be lucky the only version I have is blurry because the clear version is worse. See why I hate it? Yep, I “big frown face emoji” hate that picture.
But as my luck would have it my firm is updating our website and so a work “school day” picture day was scheduled!
And this time I was excited to redeem myself!
I chose my new black suit with black and white flower top and headed to work. It’s my skinny suit as I call it because every time I wear it I feel fantastic and skinny. Gotta love clothes like that!
I went to the bathroom to straighten up and smooth any hairs out of place. I smiled. I was so ready for this. Happy with my fashionable choice of shirt, I snapped a quick selfie to send to my friends to mark the occasion of the new picture.
“New picture day ladies!”, it said.
As I typed the text, my eye caught the image of my selfie on the text screen, I was taken a back for a moment. Is that me? Of course it was me, but…
I jumped onto my collage app and put the two work pictures side by side, the same way I have done before with my before and after pictures.
It wasn’t just the physical changes that caught my attention, because obviously losing 111 pounds changes the way a person looks physically, but it was the internal changes that I saw most jumping off that phone screen.
I looked to the girl on the right…
Of course I remember that girl. After all, I spent 38 years becoming her. I remembered how she stood in front of the mirror before her picture shrugging her shoulders saying “Well, this will have to do”. She was not at all excited about sitting for this picture, and certainly did not send any selfies to anyone to mark the occasion. I remember her sitting down nervous for the picture, making sure she sat with her back up straight so that the button on her tight suit coat would not bulge out. I remember her praying that the photographer would stand a little taller than she was sitting to avoid capturing a double chin.
That girl had zero confidence, absolute zero. She worried all the time about what people thought of her, and worst yet she saw herself the way people chose to see her. When she was with people that liked her, she felt pretty good about herself. When she wasn’t…well then any confidence balloon she carried from the people who did was instantly popped. Yep, she gave people that much power over her self-worth.
She never stood up for herself, never tried anything new. She had no time for new things anyway, she was so busy!
That girl used food as comfort. She was so overwhelmed by her weight problems and couldn’t even see a solution, so she simply stopped looking and resorted to her fate.
Was she happy? Of course. She had three beautiful children, a loving husband, a great job. But, she measured her happiness solely by the happiness from the four people in her life. If they were happy, she was happy.
She doubted herself at every turn. Did I do that right? Should I do it this way? Do they like me? Uhh…I don’t think that’s right. I better not do it. I can’t do it. That’s impossible.
That girl said “can’t” and “impossible” a lot.
She didn’t think she was beautiful. In fact, she rolled her eyes every time her husband complimented her. She didn’t even see herself when she looked in the mirror, she chose to only see herself in her favorite role of “Mom”. That role she felt comfortable in, but her own skin felt alien.
She lived in her comfort zone, completely oblivious to the fact that she wasn’t really living her life to the fullest, and was all about routine. She was so damn afraid that if she took herself out of the norm that was her life, life would change, and she HATED change.
Then I looked over to the image I had snapped just a few short minutes ago.
Now this girl…well this girl has been on an incredible journey.
This girl has lost a lot, but gained so much more. She is confident. She’s out to transform herself into the best version of herself she can be.
Being a Mom is still her favorite role in life, but she realizes that to be the best Mom that her three reasons for everything deserve, she had to find herself.
And boy did this girl find herself.
Food to this girl is fuel, period. She knows it can’t make her happy, can’t cure boredom, can’t be comforting.
This girl sees a problem and instantly seeks out the solution.
This girl tries new things, in fact she CRAVES the new and exciting. She lives out of her comfort zone, tries it first and then thinks about it later. This girl stepped out from behind the camera where she sat capturing everyone’s else’s life to in front of the camera to make sure that her life is captured as well.
This girl discovered that voice inside her head is usually wrong, but the voice inside her heart is dead on right and can drown out the doubts in the mind.
This girl crushed impossible.
This girl knows that there will never be enough hours in the day, so she has to prioritize what is important.
This girl sees the danger of letting her self-worth be determined by other’s opinions, and although she still cares what people think, she is getting better at drowning it out.
This girl can’t wait to learn even more about herself and what she can do.
In that moment, staring back and forth between the two pictures, I realized that those two people are not the same person. Those two people are polar opposites.
And I realized I didn’t even recognize the before.
So I sort of had an epiphany on how we should measure success in our personal journeys. Should we measure it by pounds lost? Inches lost? Sizes? Miles ran? How much more we have lost than someone else?
I think instead we should simply compare our “before’s” with our “after’s”. How much different is the after from the before?
So for all of you on personal journeys of change, whether physical, spiritual, or emotional, I encourage you to look at before and after pictures often. Use your before and after pictures as your guidepost, measure your success by how different you have become from the before. Keep going until the before girl is a distant memory…and before you know it…
You won’t recognize YOU!