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‘Nature can choose how I look. But only I can choose what I can make of it.’ A thoughtful piece that will make you introspect on your choices.
This year, we bring you again the Muse of the Month contest. We have received some wonderful entries for the March Muse of the Month, and had a hard time picking just 5 winners. Congratulations to all of them!
The cue for March 2016 was:
“Most people trusted in the future, assuming that their preferred version of it would unfold.”
― Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland
The fourth winning entry is by Jasmine Kaur.
It hadn’t always been this way. Or maybe I just hadn’t noticed it. There was something rather disagreeable about my face. I couldn’t quite say what. My reflection stared back at me quizzically as I tried to solve the conundrum of my countenance. Was it my mouth? But no, despite what the dentist told me at every visit, I never really felt that there was anything awry with the structure of my teeth. I smiled at myself in the mirror, a tad bit unsurely, as though to reassure myself that I still felt the same way. No, the mouth wasn’t it. It was something else. It bothered me. Not just because something was wrong, but because I couldn’t place my finger on what it was.
Admitting defeat (albeit temporarily), I scrunched up my hair into a high pony and decided to get back to my books. My mind trailed off again as images of other girls flipped past in my head, like some sort of a surreal and mildly creepy montage. I had probably spent twice as many hours of my life looking at images of women rather than men. The latter, one only had to talk to, smile at and maybe someday potentially woo. The former though, one had to be.
And it was infinitely more difficult to be the perfect woman than it was to find the perfect man. Right now I was more concerned about becoming a woman. A phenomenal one. But my defiant face was getting in the way. Mocking me with its unabashed asymmetry.
I remembered a conversation I had had with another girl the previous week. “Everyone gets pretty after their teens. Like everybody. I mean look at these people”, she said, substituting her theory with hard empirical evidence of pictures that her friends had posted online. I nodded by way of commiseration. “They transformed”, she went on in comically genuine disbelief, “Like completely transformed. Like overnight. Like hello puberty. And then like 5 minutes after that… they’re beauty contest material! And then there’s me”.
“Well, what about you?” I asked, knowing perfectly well what she would say. “I’m not there yet. But I will be. I’ll get there. When the puberty decides to hit my face as well. I’m going to transform alright. Oh yes, I am”, convincing herself more than me. Most people trusted in the future, assuming that their preferred version of it would unfold. We are never where we want to be, but somehow sure of getting there. Rationality applies only to endeavor, not to outcome. And so we tried, for isn’t that all that any of us can’t do?
I thought about the mirror again. And then it hit me. I had been focusing on what I will be for so long that I had forgotten what I already was. There were some things which had already taken shape. My past had ossified itself in the time that I had spent worrying about the future. I couldn’t really change the way I looked. But what I could change was the way I felt about it.
I didn’t ask to be born this way. I didn’t get to choose how stocky I’d be or how my hair would curl (or not). I didn’t get to choose the length of my eyelashes and whether my lips would actually curve in the intended direction when I smile. But though we don’t always have choices, perhaps we get to choose which ones matter. For I do get to choose how I feel about the choices that I have and even the ones I don’t.
Nature can choose how I look. But only I can choose what I can make of it. People can choose what they think about how I look; their assessment, judgement, scathing discernments. Her smile is too lopsided. Too wan. Too toothy. Too happy. Or maybe not enough. They choose to say those things. But only I can choose whether to smile right through them or… to well, smile right through them. For there really is no ‘or’. That is one choice we can do without.
I am beautiful. And there are no two ways about it. My face may not be a creature of my own making, but my mind is and it tells me that I am beautiful. It tells me there is no ‘right’ way for my lips to curl. It tells me that they are mine, that this face, these limbs, every strand of hair on my body is mine and so is the choice of how I feel about them.
Only I get to choose how I sashay those hips, whatever their girth may be. Only I get to choose to walk tall despite the slurs, the hushed whispers and the catcalls. Only I get to choose to smile the way I do because that is my mark of happiness, my hello to this world that I love, my signature curve. And you can’t take it away from me, no sir.
I am beautiful because I choose to believe. In me and this world and everything in it. I am beautiful because I think you are too. I am beautiful because. I am beautiful despite. I am not perfect. But what’s more important is that I am me and always will be. For that is a choice that only I get to make. And that’s what makes me beautiful.
That transformation that we’re all waiting for? It’s happening right now.
Jasmine Kaur wins a Rs 250 Flipkart voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the 10 top winners at the end of 2016. Congratulations!
Image source: woman looking in the mirror by Shutterstock.
Normal, Yet Not So Normal. February 2016 Muse Of The Month Winning Entry By Vijayalakshmi N.
This Is I, Suzette Jordan. February 2016 Muse Of The Month Winning Entry By Tanvi Sinha
“I Write To Get My Emotions Out And Keep Myself Sane”: Shruti Giri, Author Of The Month, March 2018
Dreaming Big With Mridul. May 2016 Muse Of The Month Winning Entry By Deepa Arun
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