Eleven weeks ago, I wrote a guest column called â€œWould you still be my friend?â€ about my first week and a half with Bellâ€™s palsy, a condition in which an inflamed nerve causes temporary facial paralysis. In that initial week I learned about gratitude, embracing insecurity and looking for beauty in imperfection. At the time of the column I did not understand that not only would I learn about beautiful imperfections, I would learn the meaning of inner beauty first-hand.
We throw around the term â€˜inner beautyâ€™ so frequently it has become clichÃ©. It saddens me that it has lost its power, because who we are is so much more important than what we look like. And nothing teaches the concept better than developing a condition that compromises your physical beauty.
Despite my confidence, I can recall moments during my first week of paralysis when I considered trying to lose weight so I would still feel desirable again. After a few weeks with a drooping face, I looked in the mirror and actually saw myself. I didnâ€™t see a girl with a collapsed face, but the person I know myself to be. I saw my ambition and my strength. I saw my positivity and awkward sense of humor. I noticed my drooping smile and unblinking eye, but I didnâ€™t look at them. I looked at the person in front of me.
These days I constantly make appalling faces (ask to see my crying face), but I have never been called beautiful more times in my life than in the past three months. It wasnâ€™t until the day when I looked in the mirror and saw myself that I realized other people also see the positive, awkward comedian that I do. In that moment I developed an unparalleled level of confidence and let go of my fear of judgment. I understood how liberating it is to see your inner beauty. And I understood that we all have that choice.
In my last column I asked readers to appreciate their abilities to smile instead of criticizing how their teeth looked. Now, I want you guys to do yourselves a favor. Next time you look in the mirror look past your blemished skin and frizzy hair and see yourself. I bet whatever you see will be a whole lot more beautiful.
Leslie Barrett is a senior majoring in business administration.