I've been battling with one particular idea for a few weeks now. That's a weird thing to say, though, since I'm not sure who the I in that sentence is. Sometimes it's me, on one side of the argument. Sometimes it's me on the other side.
Fundamentally it all comes down to the question:
Which is better: to learn to accept yourself the way you are, or to work your butt off to become the best you?
At first glance the answer seems obvious: of course you should become the best you. That's what progress is all about. But what if you had a below optimal attribute that was so integrated in your genes that it would take an insane effort to turn around?
Specifically, your looks. On the one hand, you'd like to become the best version of yourself and bettering your aesthetics is a part of that. But what if the best version of yourself is a person who doesn't care about looks? Then, naturally, it's best you focus on more important things than looks.
But what if you can't decide?
Yes, you want to be a person who has more going on than just their looks. But no, you don't want to look in the mirror and see ugliness. And while the whole dilemma can be fixed with a change in mindset - stop telling yourself you're ugly and focus on your other achievements instead - it might not be easy, especially if you used to be good looking, and now it's all gone.
Some days the mirror shows a puffy face with small eyes and a double-chin, framed by moss-green-gray hair. The bloated figure doesn't help it. I feel like punishing myself for letting my looks degrade by taking on a restrictive diet and a crazy exercise regime for the forseeable future, usually about 10 days, followed by a well-deserved visit to my hair stylist to finally fix the hair issue.
Other days, the puffiness isn't there. The green in the hair is barely visible if the hair is tied up on a bun. And if I stand in a specific pose, there's a nice little thigh gap to prove I'm not as far gone as I thought. Those are the days I feel I can actually achieve something with the day. The foundations are in order; now I can build upon them.
But who says you need to look good to have your "foundations in order"? My twisted subconscious that's constantly being reminded of the ideal - a picture of my 23-year-old self in the wallpaper image on my phone. A picture I should, yet cannot, delete.
Look, I want to both look good in my own eyes and be the kind of person who doesn't care about looks. I want to believe that physical beauty comes with inner beauty. And I want it to actually be so.
Which will change first - your perception, or reality?
P.S. Hopefully you're not as neurotic as I am.