Hinckley. My little pal. The little guy I'm about to tell you all about. Here's a picture I took of him when he was 2 years old, about 5 years ago. Driving home from Brassy Apple's Secret Project (launching September 29th) last week, I was reminded of a memory from when he was this old. It came flooding back, and I remembered everything about that day like it was yesterday. It brought me to tears just thinking about it. It hits close to home, but I don't ever want to forget it, so here goes!
My whole life, I struggled with acne. Oh yeah folks, we're talking Struggled, with a capital "S". It plagued me as a teenager. It got a little better as I went to college, but still bothered me and never completely went away. I always noticed the clear skin of other girls or celebrities I saw in the media. I'd always wished for that smooth, blemish-free skin. I was embarrassed by the marks on my face, especially the uneven redness of it. I never went anywhere without makeup on. I always tried to cover the acne up, but it never quite covered it the way I wanted it to, and it definitely couldn't take away the rough, unevenness of it. It was a major insecurity of mine and often the source of low self-esteem.
Y'all I had tried it all. I had been to the dermatologist a million times, and every new "procedure" or "daily face routine" failed. Nothing ever worked. Shocker. My skin has always been extremely sensitive and more often than not, I would break out from the new "daily face routine" suggested by said dermatologist. So. Freaking. Frustrating. Not to mention incredibly hard on my hopeful attitude that this routine would be different. This time it would work. This time I would come out on top. This time I would finally have that perfect skin I'd been dreaming of. Ha...ha.......HA.
Well, one time in particular coming back from the dermatologist with a new procedure in tow, I got home, ran upstairs, and couldn't wait to get started. Even though it would've taken time for it to show results, I wanted to get a move on with that ish. But sure enough, not even ten minutes after applying the cleanser, toner, and cream (sweet merciful, I wish I knew then what I know now about skin care...simplify, simplify, simplify), my face broke out like cuhRAZY. I was a mess y'all. A freaking hot mess. I'd never had my skin break out so terrifically horrible before. I was swollen, red, itchy, and my acne was magnified ten fold. I remember it like it was yesterday, looking in the mirror and being so unhappy, embarrassed, and completely mortified. I didn't even want to show my face to my family. I was so painfully embarrassed.
So I cried.
I cried so hard and so long. I cried because of my insecurity. I cried because it didn't seem like I would ever add up. I felt like no one would think I was pretty. I felt exposed. I cried because I didn't feel beautiful.
After wetting a rag and patting my face, and trying to remove any sign of my hysterics, I finally braved going downstairs. As I walked downstairs, my sister, her hubby, and my brother were playing a board game. I'd half expected them to look up at my red, puffy, acne-filled face and drop their jaws at the horror. But of course they didn't. My sister looked up at me and said, "Finally! Wanna jump in on the game?" She didn't stare, and she didn't say a word. I told her I'd sit out for this round and hop in the next. So I sat on the piano bench and watched as they played.
And that's when it happened.
My sweet little nephew, Hinckley, climbed right up on the piano bench next to me, and completely caught me off guard. Unexpectedly, he pulled himself up onto my lap and cupped his little hands and fingers around my cheeks. He looked me straight in the eyes with the most sincere, sweet look on his face, and said, "Ashin, you are BOOOtiful."
Yep. That happened. Bring on the falls, Niagara Falls. Right then and there, my 2 year old Nephew taught me one of the most valuable lessons a girl needs to know. And sure enough, I cried again.
To that little 2 year old, I was beautiful not because of what I looked like on the outside but because I was his aunt. Because I hugged and kissed him every time I saw him. Because I laughed with him. Because I cuddled and watched Backyardigans with him. Because I played toys with him. Because I loved him.
And I believe that. I believe that loving, supporting, and serving the people around us makes us happy and beautiful. You are beautiful because of the listening ear you provide for your friend whose marriage is struggling, whose transition to being a new, young mom is lonely, whose kids have all left home and being an empty-nester is lonely, or whose husband lost his job and money is tight. You are beautiful because you texted that person to let them know how much they mean to you. You are beautiful because you're a caring, invested grandma who wants each and every grandchild to know they're unique and loved. You're beautiful because you make dinner every night even if it means ordering in from Papa Johns. You're beautiful because you're a good sister who supports her family in their endeavors and ambitions. You're beautiful because you fold the laundry and do the dishes, so when your hubby gets home from work the house is clean. You're beautiful because instead of doing the laundry and dishes, you let your 4 year old pretend to be a chef and you were the customer at her restaurant or you let your 2 year old show you the mess he can make by being Godzilla and destroying all the toys and legos in sight. You're beautiful because you're 15 and noticed that there was someone new at school, so you said hi, asked where she's from, and if she wanted to sit with you and your friends at lunch. You're beautiful because you try to be a good student and good kid, even if things are hard at home. You're beautiful if school is hard for you and you feel like you're barely scraping by because what no one knows is that you're going to be an artist, an engineer, a musician, a beautician, or some other talent that can't be measured by run of the mill "academics". You're beautiful because you're a strong, independent, happy woman who loves to work hard, enjoys her career, and makes the workplace an uplifting, supportive community for her coworkers. You're beautiful because you attend church every week. You're beautiful if you don't go to church and hike with your family instead. You're beautiful if your beliefs are founded in goodness, reflection, and unity. You're beautiful if your beliefs are founded in God.
You're beautiful because you are your own person.
There is not one person who has the same heart and mind as you. Don't let anyone strip that from you. Don't let the media tell you what you should look like or how you should act. Don't let the girl in your Chemistry class make you feel stupid because you don't understand what you're doing. Don't let the girl on TV make you feel like you're not pretty enough. Don't let the girls who have boyfriends make you feel like something's wrong with you because you're not in a relationship. Don't let the mom down the street who always seems to have it together make you feel like you don't have it together. Don't let the empty-nesters who seem to have found their niche make you feel like you don't have one. I can't remember who said this, but whoever it was really hit the nail on the head...
“Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.”
Cheers to being who you are because it's a waste of time to be anybody else.
Hope y'all are having a fabulous day, and if not, then no worries because tomorrow's Friday! #holla
❤, Ashton Tilton