by Ashley Geist
The other day I decided to do something I don’t normally do, I looked at pictures for fun. I seriously took the time, and really looked at them. Not that I don’t enjoy looking back at older pictures once in a while, but when the to-do list covers three pages, “look at fun, nostalgic pictures”, usually doesn’t make the cut for daily activities.
I started looking at pictures that were tagged by friends on social media, later I looked back through my phone which had some pictures from six years ago. Later that week, a dear friend sent me a fun snap from our college dorm days of me sitting at my desk in cozy flannel jammies with glasses on, probably doing some last-minute homework–or trying to–while we were taking funny pictures.
Looking back through all these photos showed me a few things. First, I noticed the people and places in the photographs. From pictures with special friends at themed parties in gardens and homes to treasured family members during the holidays or on visits out of town. Some images of my students of all ages; playing the piano at their first recitals, graduating from college in their caps and gowns, doing service work, performing in dance recitals, living out the very special moments of their lives.
Next, I noticed myself in these photos. I found that when I look at the images of others, I see only their beauty and goodness. When I look at myself, I sometimes judge too harshly.
It’s easy to notice the details on the surface of an image, but what about the details only I know about? I looked at pictures from when I was sick or struggling, pictures from seasons of total overwhelm and change, and pictures taken during seasons of pure joy. As I looked, I noticed different versions of myself. It was the “me” I know in all the images and yet, in different versions.
As I looked through these images, I was reminded of our ever-changing nature as humans. We are constantly evolving on the path of life. Every joy, every challenge–if we are truly experiencing them– changes us. We change on the inside and the outside changes too. So why do we vilify that process? Why are we told to freeze time, that it’s not OK to change or look different over the years? Or that one version is somehow better or more preferable than another one?
I chose to look at myself in the images just as I look at those individuals with me in the photographs, with eyes of appreciation and gratitude for the time spent and memories made. Then I got to thinking, of all the pictures we take, how many do we look at again; and of those we look at, how many do we enjoy?
So I encourage you to look at some pictures of yourself today and to try on enjoyment and appreciation instead of judgement. As you do, notice yourself as you would a beloved friend or family member. Do you see thoughtful eyes, caring hands, a glowing smile, or maybe a bright spirit? Are you proud of yourself in that photo? What season of life were you in when it was taken? Give yourself the love you deserve and choose to love EVERY version of yourself.
Ready to explore what it looks like to value and honor who you are instead of what the world says you should be? Join us at Wholehearted Hub for a virtual group coaching experience focused on Body Positivity on Sunday, July 18th at 7pm.
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