She was loud and she swore and she said too many things way too fast. She asked too many questions and had too many opinions. And she was always late. Or early for tomorrow, she'd say. And then she'd laugh. One of those laughs that are so contagious you can't help but join in, no matter how annoyed.
One day I was having a down day. Now, looking back I don't even remember why. I don't remember what had happened to make me feel cruddy. That is not what I remember about that day. But, what I do remember is this...My friend, the girl who drove me bananas...saw me looking down at my feet as I walked along toward class.
She grabbed me by the arm, pulled me to the nearest bathroom and shoved me inside. And she said, I want you to learn how to do something right damn now! You look in this mirror and you say, "I am beautiful."
"You do it," she said. "We aren't leaving until you do."
I looked at her. Glared at her. Rolled my eyes and said, "I'm beautiful." In the most pitiful way possible.
She said a really loud swear word that had the girl in the stall behind us slink out without even a second glance. "You do it, and you believe it."
I shook my head. And took a deep breath. I looked in the mirror. I saw my friend's determined face and my irritated one. I saw her standing there supporting me instead of going to literature class. I saw her the way she would be years from then as a teacher--guiding others to believe in who they saw in the mirror.
I blinked and tried to ignore the tears forming. "I'm beautiful." I said with more conviction than the last time.
"I can't hear you! Come on!"
"I am beautiful!" I yelled. And I was too. I could see it. I could see the power that declaration had made upon my face. My eyes were brighter, my face more focused, my body more strong.
More than a decade has passed since that day in the bathroom with my irritating friend. I have three daughters, a husband, a crazy cat and a son who all depend upon me. There have been many times I have looked in the mirror and crinkled my nose at the left-over baby pudge that's hanging around. I have gasped and leaned in as close as possible to see if I really do have a gray hair!
But, I haven't forgotten what I learned. I've even been known to say it out loud once or twice--a week. It's a good thing to know. I've shared the lesson with my daughters. The nine year old is proud to say it. The six year old laughs and laughs. The 18 month old...just says "pitty". And that's enough for now.
So maybe the next time you stand in front of the mirror, and you feel like crinkling your nose for one reason or another, why don't you try saying, "I'm beautiful."
Stand up straight, tilt your head to one side and smile as you say it. You'll be amazed at how gorgeous you are.