Who Do You See?
“I remember. Yep, I’ve got the details. How could I ever forget about your big celebration, man?” Rashad said with a chuckle. “The big 3-0, is always a big deal!”
“Ha, thanks brother. Remember when we were kids?” Jeremiah reminisced. “We used to think thirty was so old.” There was silence on the line, before both men began to laugh together thinking about how far they’ve come in life. “But you’re right, turning thirty is a big deal, which is why I want your ass there.”
“You know how it is in this joint. All work and hardly ever any play,” Rashad replied after catching his breath.
“Aye, remember Sharde?”
“The one you keep saying wants to meet me? Yea, I remember.”
“She’s going to be there, now you guys can finally meet,” Jeremiah said, hoping that would persuade Rashad to give him a more definitive answer. “Besides, you haven’t been out in a while. Look, I get you’re busy and all, but it would mean a lot to me if you could be there, even if you come late.”
“I got you; I’ll do my best.” Rashad swallowed hard and continued on. “It’s been rough these past few weeks in the hospital, but It’s your thirtieth birthday, you know I’m going to do what I can to make it.”
Jeremiah and Rashad have been friends since they were practically in diapers and have always remained close. These brothers have done quite well for themselves in their respective fields. Rashad is an ER nurse who works ridiculous hours, while Jeremiah runs one of the leading small black-owned software development companies in the heart of downtown Chicago.
Rashad set the phone down on the table in the hospital break room, took a deep breath, and thought about the conversation he’d just finished. He began to come up with all kind of reasons why making his best friend’s birthday party would be next to impossible, even though he had that particular day off. Later that evening, Rashad trudged through the door of his apartment after a long twelve hour shift in the emergency room. He stepped into his bedroom, took off his sweat soaked scrubs, and walked into the bathroom with his eyes fixed on the floor. He always tried his best not to look in the mirror, for he subconsciously hated his reflection. Rashad’s glory days of pumping iron, felt like a distant memory. His reflection in the mirror reminded him of who he used to be, and also who he vehemently despised.
After a long shower, he brushed his teeth while staring into the bowl of the sink. He gave himself one more shallow look, shook his head, and retired to bed. Rashad dealt with his disdain by evading calls to hang out with his friends and filling up his schedule with work. His love life, or lack thereof, could be attributed to an overloaded work schedule, and a secret shame he’d been caring around with him for over two years.
Rashad struggled with his weight after a terrible car accident, that almost killed him. There were times he’d get so down on himself, that he’d just sit on the edge of his bed, and scroll through old photos feeling frustrated and defeated. Old run-ins with friends often ended with awkward stares and bitten tongues. Make no mistake about it, he could feel their curiosity. His weight dominated his thoughts, and dictated how he felt about himself. It was easy being a nurse, he reasoned. Over-sized scrubs and a busy schedule created the perfect excuse for becoming a recluse.
Several days had passed and the evening of Jeremiah’s party had arrived. Rashad stared at the clock, as seven slowly drew near. What am I going to do, he thought as he weighed his options. He knew how hurt his best friend would be if he never showed face, but his deeply rooted body issues held him hostage. “I can’t meet Sharde looking like this,” he grumbled to himself as he rummaged through his closet. Rashad eventually gave up, and made the call he never wanted to make; he told Jeremiah he wouldn’t make it. He blamed it on an unsuspecting virus that he caught from a patient. How ironic...
As a man, I can tell you just how difficult it is for some of us to talk about how feel about ourselves honestly. Society leads you to believe that men don’t have body issues or insecurities, and that is simply not true. Men are taught to man up, keep your feelings inside and it’s killing us emotionally. I applaud women for typically being able to openly share these uncomfortable feelings. There’s something about vulnerability that causes many to clam up and hide behind a wall of pretense. Rashad illustrates just how debilitating it can be to feel trapped inside of a body that you despise. While many people understand that our bodies can be vastly improved with diet and exercise, it’s learning to love yourself right where you are, that seems to be such a challenge.
Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you love what you see? Have you accepted who you are in this moment? These can be tough question to answer. Our society has created this faux standard of beauty that many try to attain at the expense of their mental health. Comparison is a breeding ground for feelings of inadequacy. You may not be at the size you want to be right now, but you’re on your way to becoming the best version of yourself. Ladies, your weight doesn’t take away from your beauty or who you are. My brothers, you may not have six pack abs or large biceps and that’s ok. These things don’t define the strength you have deep within. We are much more than our physical appearances; we must learn to accept ourselves.
In your quiet time, I ask that you take a few moments to look at yourself in the mirror. Find five things that you love about yourself. It’s easy to pick apart our flaws, but today we’re going to find reasons to admire ourselves. From this day forward, I encourage you to make a pledge to love every part of you, even the parts that are under construction. There’s only one you, and people love you for you, despite what you may think. Stand tall even when the voices in your mind try to convince you that you’re not good enough. You are good enough. You are wonderful just the way you are, and you’re only getting better with time.