There I was, standing at the corner of the bar completely alone. The lights flashed on and off as the rotating colored bulbs turned my coral shirt into blue, purple, green and red every few seconds. The DJ, with his “man-bun” held high, bobbed his head to the latest mixes of pop music and electronic dubstep.
Drunk girls were falling around me, shaking their booties as they “got low”, and people were hanging all over each other as they met for the first time a few minutes before. The cocktail waitresses dressed in little crop tops and shorts that looked more like underwear as they walked around selling bottles and dancing on tables to their favorite songs. Perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect makeup, and perfect empty smiles.
I felt so out of place.
My younger sister has the unique ability to flock people to her. Men stand in line waiting to talk to her, offer to buy her drinks, dinner, and a list of many other things. While we were standing at the bar, there was no room to turn around let alone dance as the men huddled around her. As she left to go to the bathroom, the scent of burberry and Axe trailed after her.
So, there I was, alone in my maxi skirt and hippie tank, with my travel bracelets and hair wrap radiating out free spirit, stories, and depth. A depth that no drunk guy at a bar cares about. A beauty that is overlooked and invisible as I stood at the end of the crowded bar with no one within four feet of me in any direction. A feat almost impossible to achieve.
Throughout my life, I have been compared to my sister’s looks. Boyfriends have told me how hot she is, friends and classmates have wanted me to fix them up with her, and even strangers have come up to me asking how we look so different and how big and beautiful her eyes are. When I was younger, it devastated me. I was so self-conscious, I never wanted any guy I was interested in to see her, I worked harder at my grades and what I offered the world, so I too, would be noticed. When I was younger, I didn’t acknowledge both the inner and outer unique beauty that I offered the world and I beat myself down over and over again.
But that night was different. She received the cat calls, the whistles, and the free drinks. And that I watched how she owned it and her confidence was contagious.
Why did I ever let those gestures and those societal standards of beauty affect how beautiful I thought I was?
For a minute I began to question my beauty. I went into my mind and fed the stories from when I was little. But this time, I didn’t allow myself to stay there.
I looked and saw that this attention isn’t what I want. Of course the compliments feel good. But, I love myself and my body and knowing that I feel beautiful within myself, is enough. I won’t allow the compliments and surface level flirtation, or lack of, affect how I feel in my own unique, radiating beauty.
So, as I stood alone at the end of the bar, Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars came on and I danced. I danced alone in the 16 square foot space I managed to be given to express my happiness, my beauty, and my uniqueness. I twirled my maxi skirt, I smiled, and laughed in my aloneness because I felt beautiful and so different from every person in that room. I celebrated my growth from when I was younger to where I am now. And I stood there, closed my eyes, and felt that power rise within me.
After an extended bathroom break my sister walked up from behind me. She flashes a gorgeous full teeth smile as she strutted her stuff towards the bar. I looked at her and saw how beautiful she is. Her perfectly toned legs, her perfectly toned abs, and her great hair flowing down her back. She danced and moves in her own unique way and I looked at her in awe. She is so beautiful.
But so am I.
And this is what I learned standing alone at that bar
We each have our beauty that we offer the world. And that beauty is so deep and profound that no catcall or surface level compliment can even begin to touch on our magnificence. And while, in the past, I have gone into the envy and jealousy and began to tear my sister or another person down in my head to make myself feel better, I realized how hurtful that truly is. What does it do? It takes away from another person’s unique beauty. Just because someone else is recognized for their beauty and gifts, doesn’t give anyone the right to tear them down or make them feel small.
So, when someone else shows their beauty, celebrate it, acknowledge it, and compliment it. Not just the physical beauty, but the beauty of the soul. The only beauty that really matters. By celebrating their beauty, our own depth and profound magnificence isn’t just shown, it is magnified.