To Anyone Who's Ever Felt Like They Should Be Prettier, Thinner, Smarter…

Hi everybody! Today’s post is by Jenny Ward, an amazing woman I met about a month ago at a gathering of advocates for healthy confidence and self-esteem in women and girls.

She led us through a session of “play yoga” and after I saw the way she made all of us loosen up, connect with each other, and laugh, I was hooked on her! She encourages everyone to live with fun and passion—and that’s something that we emotional overeaters can have a hard time doing. Sometimes we’re too wrapped up in food obsession or body hate to be present in our own lives; other times, we may be afraid to feel anything, good or bad.

I invited her to share with us today and teach us all a little bit about how to play more in order to love our lives more. Enjoy! xo…Sunny

I took life really seriously. I followed the rules that were passed on to me, and checked off the boxes one at a time: “good girl, smart, pretty, graduate, college graduate, married, divorced, CEO, mom, perfect.”  The boxes went on and on, and I found myself wondering, “When will I be happy?”

What I began to remember is that there was one box I did not check off: “ENOUGH.”  I spent years seeking to be better, prettier, thinner, smarter, more loved, more accepted. I wanted everyone in my playground to like me, so I gave up parts of myself to feel accepted. Every label that was given to me, I accepted as truth. And ignored my own inner knowing that I was enough AS IS.

When I began to teach play to adults, I realized that most of our world mutes their inner knowing. We seek approval, yet forget to trust our own inner guide. We live for “accolades” yet have lost touch with the simple gestures of hugs, presence and just laughing with others. It hit me that healing is way more then taking care of my body and mind but it also entails PLAYING with the knowledge and aliveness of my soul. My soul knows that it does not matter if I am smart, successful or if I look like Barbie. My soul knows that at the end of this life-play, all that truly matters is how we LIVED it.

Where do we put our energy?  Do we put our energy into creating joy or resisting pain? Do we believe that life is full of  drama or full of aliveness? Can we allow the other kids in our sandbox to also have their own experiences without taking it personally?  I watched a 4 year old girl ask another 4 year old boy to play at the playground when I was there the other day. What struck me was how unattached either one of them were with the results. “Would you play with me?” she asked. “No” he answered. She skipped away and he continued to dig in the sand.

This moment is what play-full living is all about. When we began to choose to heal our stories and live fully we realize that we have no control over the paths of others. We realize that if we can hear no, and still play on, that nothing is ever lost. We are always enough. Some may play with us, some may choose to not. Either way, our joy remains intact. Our soul still knows how to skip on and not only heal but begin to LIVE life from the inside out.

Playfull living involves curiosity about life. Looking at our pasts and seeing our stories as just stories that can TEACH us on how to move forward. Playfull Living involves releasing the need to always know what is next, for life is full of surprises to explore and it is how we react that creates harmony not discord.  Playfull Living is our truest essence, which is ENOUGH and ready to play. –Jenny Ward

Thank you, Jenny! Releasing the need to know what’s next is something I would like more of in my life. What about you? Have you ever felt like you weren’t “enough” and that had to keep striving?

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12 Responses to To Anyone Who's Ever Felt Like They Should Be Prettier, Thinner, Smarter…

  1. Veronica says:

    For as long as I can remember, I have never felt good enough. I was never the pretty one, nor the smart one, nor the talented one, nor the funny one. I was never good enough for anything and to this day, people still make feel like I am not good enough. I guess I should come to accept the fact that this is who I am and I can only please myself. But that’s easier said than done.

    • Sunny says:

      This feeling of not being enough is so pervasive I think. Even a woman who others think of as the “smart one” or “pretty one” can feel like she is somehow not smart or pretty enough. How did we get this way! Perhaps it’s human nature, but I know that therapy has helped me silence that voice quite a bit. Not completely, but…enough! xo…Sunny

  2. Andrea Owen says:

    Jenny, this is beautiful! I can so relate. I was “that” girl too. I checked all my boxes and still wasn’t enough. Blamed it on everyone else, still wasn’t enough. Starved myself down to practically nothing and thought that HAD to be it….still not enough.
    Then one day I got sick of it. I knew it was me that made me feel that I wasn’t enough. I gave all the nay-sayers a middle finger and have never been happier since.

  3. Kate says:

    I wonder how many women out there think they are “enough.” I don’t think I know many. Maybe a handful. And it’s probably the same for men.

    I can’t really remember a time in my life when I felt as though I’d accomplished enough. Jenny, when I read this, I see your list of accomplishments and think “CEO! Wow!” and feel immediately as though I haven’t come nearly far enough.

    Do you think you’d be able to start to even think about “enough” if you hadn’t already accomplished enough of the things that constitute the common conception of a full life? Not everyone is there!

    • Sunny says:

      I think the ultimate in self-destructive behavior is when we compare ourselves to others. “Compare and despair” I’ve heard it called. There’s always going to be someone out there who makes more money than we do, or is more “together” or is slimmer or saner, or whatever. What makes us “enough” has to eventually come from inside each of us, no matter what our accomplishments. Whew–tall order! xo…Sunny

  4. […] favorite post. “To Anyone Who’s Ever Felt Like They Should Be Prettier, Thinner, Smarter…” at Healthy Girl, because so many of us can relate. You’ll no doubt get […]

  5. I love this post, Jenny! I’ve been doing a lot of work in this arena this year, trying to figure out who I’ve been trying to impress my whole life instead of being satisfied from within about how I live my life. As a parent of a child with some special needs, letting go of what others think of me, especially as a parent, has been the latest journey for me. Truly letting go and feeling great about who I am and what I do makes all the difference in the world when it comes to how I experience life.

  6. Nancy Gruver says:

    Jenny – I love what you do with play-impaired adults like me – it’s transformative! I’d love to hear your thoughts about how we help girls hang on to their playfulness and not lose it the way so many women have.

  7. Brilliant Jenny!
    Thank you for speaking your truth and reminding us to just be ourselves and appreciate each moment. We live in a world that constantly want us to conform and play by a rigid set of rules. It takes tremendous courage to step off the hamster wheel and shout from the rooftops, “I am perfect just as I am.”
    You, my friend, are a bright light. Thank you for being exceptional in a world that encourages mediocrity.

  8. elizabeth says:

    “My soul knows that it does not matter if I am smart, successful or if I look like Barbie. My soul knows that at the end of this life-play, all that truly matters is how we LIVED it.”
    if we can only keep this thought in mind as we move through the day! we might enjoy what we have more, instead of always wishing for something different/better/thinner/prettier!
    glad to have found this blog!

  9. […] To Anyone Who’s Ever Felt Like They Should Be Prettier, Thinner, Smarter… Must Read. […]

  10. sui says:

    so, so true. beautiful post. ♥

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.