I Didn’t Always Choose REAL…
Ruth Lewis-Jones, founder, designer and managing director of ChooseREAL Campaign, an empowering movement taking a stand to change our culture and the way girls (and everyone) see themselves and the world – as whole, complete, not lacking, and more than enough. Just as they are.
ChooseREAL desires to be a solution to the ever-increasing issues girls face, helping them be valued, empowered and confidently living out their REAL identity.
Here is her real and raw account about how she didn’t always ChooseREAL, and reflections on her personal journey and exposure on what she knows now.
Okay…here we go! There was a time I didn’t choose real. I chose to try and be like everyone else. I desperately wanted to fit in. But I couldn’t. I was trying to be what I thought others wanted, but was always left feeling confused and empty. In my mind, I was not enough.
I didn’t look like I was “supposed” to (or what I was brain-washed into believing was real beauty). I was too tall, too skinny and at the same time not skinny enough, my hair wasn’t smooth and shiny, my face would go beetroot when I did any form of exercise, I was flat chested, my skin was fair with freckles everywhere.
I remember catching a glimpse of my profile one day in the angled fitting room mirrors while shopping and being shocked, thinking that is not how I “should” look. I then tried to avoid those mirrors as I didn’t want to be reminded that I didn’t have the “perfect” nose/side view.
Here’s the truth though, we are all unique and different, and if we continue comparing our looks and lives with others, we’ll always be either dissatisfied, wishing our lives away, or arrogant, looking down on everyone who isn’t like us.
And that’s exactly what I did. I would think, if only I looked like her or had that, or didn’t have this, THEN my life would be great. I fell hard into the trap of comparison.
I compared my own personality, thinking my gentle nature was weak and boring. Wishing I wasn’t so thoughtful… I cared so deeply for others it hurt, I’d naturally think of how to encourage and uplift them, I’d feel their pain, I’d go out of my way to be there… But at the time, I felt isolated and that no one could support me like I supported them. I was left empty.
I didn’t have the latest gadgets, know the latest songs, wear brands and labels. I was smart, but not like my sister. I was trapped in the impossible strive for perfectionism.
And worst of all, I took on the damaging words and labels people spoke over me (intentional or not). I believed I wasn’t enough!
This prevented me from fully living my life, always hoping something would change and THEN, then I’ll be happy with myself. I waited. And waited. And cried. And waited.
There was NOTHING I could do, nothing I could say, nothing I could change (on the surface) to make me FEEL enough, accepted and happy with myself.
What I was waiting for was already within me. I just didn’t know it yet.
I had been so focused on comparing, on proving myself, on thinking I needed to fix something, that I was blinded to the infinite worth and value I always had.
Let me also point out, that I didn’t even realize I was doing any of these things… They were so ingrained in me that I wasn’t even aware I was feeding this destruction.
That’s why they say comparison is the THIEF of joy – it comes and steals your contentment without you even knowing it was there.
NOW AND THEN.
It’s been a journey and a process. None of these things I used to wish away have changed. It’s my perspective and understanding that has.
Understanding who I am is enough – not based on what I do, how accepted I feel by others, my achievements, my appearance, or how I’m dealing with a current situation. Through it all, I AM ENOUGH.
It’s not when… then I’ll be enough. It’s right now, all of me, just as I am. No matter what. I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH.
And it’s a daily choice to ChooseREAL, sometimes hard, but so worth it!
I am learning to embrace and celebrate my REAL identity – seeing the beauty in who I AM, not who I wish I could be. It is our courage to be our REAL selves that makes us beautiful. Embracing all of our selves, our weakness, faults, imperfections. Clones are boring and uninspiring. What is rare is being one of a kind. And that’s what I’m choosing.
I’m closing the door of the comparison trap. Sometimes it budges open, but I try to slam it shut as soon as I realise its leaking toxins.
I am learning to be thankful for what I have, where I am, the situation I am in. There are always things to be thankful for. There are opportunities and gifts in every season. Gratitude is such a powerful perspective changer.
I am learning my value and worth is NOT determined by how others view or treat me or even how I treat myself. I have infinite worth. My value can never be taken away. And neither can yours.
I am learning that I matter. You matter of course, but so do I. I need to treat myself the way I treat those I care for deeply. Forgive myself, not expect so much of myself, allow myself to rest, celebrate the small steps, feed my soul, talk to myself the way I talk to those I love.
I am learning to change my headphones – tuning into thoughts that empower instead of discourage. Change my glasses – seeing myself and the world through the lenses that I AM ENOUGH. Change what I think I need to put on each morning – understanding my intrinsic worth and strengths, not putting on the unachievable expectations our culture dictates we should be/have/do. Change my focus, packing my essentials everyday – broadened perspective, gratitude, resourceful attitude, contentment, healthy goals. Being my own stylist – not letting the labels of others stick.
I wouldn’t change the challenges I had, the insecurities I battled, the experiences I’ve been through, or even those things I use to wish away… They have made me who I am today. They have given me the passion and strength to empower others.
I am learning. Every step counts.
My name is Ruth Lewis-Jones. I choose to be REAL. I am MORE THAN ENOUGH, just as I am.
And so are you x