You are not Beautiful.
When we were freshmen at Johnson, one of Jacob’s friends said he “didn’t get” why Jacob thought I was attractive. (You can probably guess how much that helped boost my self-esteem.) There are some days when I still think about his comment. Days when I wonder what I could do to be more beautiful, and when I have to try extra hard to not let it get to me.
If I’ve learned anything as I’ve grown older, it’s that I’m thankful I’m not known as Beautiful. I’ve learned that it doesn’t look at the whole picture. If you were to ask someone to describe me and all they said was “Oh, she’s beautiful”, you still would not know anything of value.
Am I a hard worker? Do I like to dance in the car? Is it easy to talk to me? Can I laugh at myself? How do I handle pressure? What do I do in my spare time? How would you describe the essence of Julianna?
Beautiful just doesn’t cut it, does it?
That’s something I’ve always like about names – unlike simple descriptors, our names are able to define us. Where words fail, our names always describe us perfectly. When my husband does something that mimics my level of klutziness, he claims he pulled a “Julianna.” When my youngest sister acts just as sassily as I do, my family calls her “Julianna Junior.”
Where “clumsy” and “sassy” fail, those closest to me have found that “Julianna” will suffice.
Beautiful can only describe my features, not my quirks. Beautiful is not my name.
And it’s certainly not a name I am willing to sacrifice my complexity for in order to pursue. I have done so before, and it’s not worth it.
It is not worth it to look in the mirror, see that you’re a little bit thinner, and not recognize your personality anymore. It is not worth it to put all of your effort into striving for beauty, when – no matter how hard you try – it will always be just out of reach. It is not worth it to make perfection your goal, when the only real thing you achieve is sleepless nights spent counting your flaws.
So it is okay not to be Beautiful.
I am imperfect, but I am sleeping again.
I am imperfect, but I am strong.
I am imperfect, but I am fully alive.
Beautiful is not my name. And it isn’t yours, either.
I am Julianna.
You are Hannah.
You are Elizabeth.
You are Sarah.
You are Rebecca.
You are Jane.
You are Rachel.
You are Brittany.
You are Lauren.
You are Kaitlin.
You are a whole world of complexity. Beauty is part of you, but it isn’t everything.