Life as The Ugly Duckling

Beauty. It defines us. Who we are, who we love, what we constantly strive to be. We all desire to be beautiful. To fit in, & in the same way stand out & be noticed.

How is this possible? How do we stand out by fitting in? I ask myself this everyday as I find myself constantly surrounded by women wearing fun & crazy lipsticks, crop tops & anything else to make them feel noticed & confident. I think this is wonderful, confidence is incredibly important & we should encourage ourselves to do what we can to make ourselves feel that way.

I feel concerned about the lack of striving for inner beauty as well.

Why can’t someone’s humour be equally or more noticed than their bodies? I’ve made the joke many times to one of my friends about the ginger angelic singing king, Ed Sheeran’s song “Shape of You”, one of his catchy & newfound pop hits. A few of the lyrics in the chorus are “I’m in love with your body”, which always inclines me to say, “Why is he in love with her body? Why aren’t the lyrics ‘I’m in love with your personality?’ Or ‘I’m in love with the way you always trip over everything?”

To which my friend responds, while her eyes are rolling so far back in her head she’s determining the exact shade of pink her brain really is, “Because Holly, these lyrics are catchier & this is what sells. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a fun song.”

But why doesn’t it matter? Why isn’t this important? Why is the phrase, “beauty is on the inside” just a cliché saying we use when outside beauty isn’t enough for us? I just wanted to begin all of this with random philosophical questions to get your brain jumping up & down & saying “Alright cool, people know I exist. Get on with it, Holly.” So I will do just that.

True Beauty is on the Inside

My Sister's Shadow

I have an older sister. She’s beautiful. Actually, beautiful is an understatement. She stunning, alluring, captivating & any other search result I found when I googled “synonyms for beautiful”.

When men see her, I can literally see all of these synonyms scroll through the inside of their eyelids as she speaks to them. When she talks to people, they’re immediately charmed & amazed & every person who is any number of notch below her in the attractiveness scale immediately disappears & is a left a ghost, just awkwardly haunting the room until the conversation is over.

If these awkward ghosts had their own type of group or club, I would immediately become a VIP member. I’d probably be nominated as Vice President or Secretary or T-shirt designer. Notice how I’m not saying I’d be President, this is me praying that someone else has gone through the same exhausting & constant experience as I have & have done it far more than me. They deserve the prestigious honor to be president of that club, because it’s not fun.

Me in a Nutshell

I myself am not an unattractive person. I’m also not breathtakingly beautiful either. I eat a dangerous amount of pizza rolls & Mac N Cheese & I need an instruction manual to work a makeup brush, so I don’t try very hard to enhance my looks. Instead, I laugh at my own jokes & I quote too many movies, books & television shows.

I’m not obnoxiously outgoing. I’m laid back with a subtle & more thought out sense of humor. I always like to believe this is its own beauty. But to some people it’s not at all.

To a dangerously larger majority of people, my personality isn’t enough to fall under the standard definition of beautiful, especially in the presence of my sister. There have been several occurrences in my life where I will be talking to a man & he will immediately see my sister & flock right over toward her. Men will see me as attractive, but once my sister is around, all I hear is, “Wow, you’re sister is beautiful. Could you put in a good word for me?” Right then & there, no longer am I seen as the potential love interest, but the dorky wingman friend that lives in the dark & beautiful shadow of my sister.

I’ve grown up lacking talent & skill in many areas. My sister was five years older than me & we attended a smaller high school. She was a cheerleader who had brains without even trying, but didn’t like to showcase them because in a small town, brains don’t equal beauty, so she enjoyed portraying herself as the pretty, attention grabbing, incredibly talented hard to get woman while I stumbled around telling jokes no one understood & failing at every sport or activity I attempted until I found theatre.

Finding My Calling

In theatre, I could be someone I always wanted to be.

Just for a moment, I was the person everyone watched & paid attention to. When I got on stage, I played a whole new character. One who had been interpreted & invented on my own. I wasn’t someone’s little sister, I was just, someone. & that was enough for me.

Growing up, I’ve constantly worked for things. Talent & skill was never just handed to me randomly. I worked for it & gained it. My sister, on the other hand, was immediately given the talent of cosmetology. She now works in the top cosmetology school in the state making an incredibly large amount of money because she had that natural talent & people skills needed for that. It wasn’t something she had to constantly work at, it was just natural.

The minute she graduated high school, she moved in with her boyfriend & started making good money. She’s never had nights where she’s had to break half the Ramen noodles & eat one side of them to make her food last until her next paycheck. She’s never lived in housing with 4 other roommates in one room sharing one bathroom. She’s never felt awkward or nervous around a man or had to gain the courage to talk to him, because he’s already talking to her first. We’ve lived in different worlds where I have struggled to earn almost everything in my life & she’s naturally been able to just grasp everything in a second because she’s naturally gifted.

Seeking Something Deeper Than Skin

I’ve always been jealous of this.

Jealous of the admiration in people’s eyes when they speak to her & desperately hope they can be friends with such a fun & cool person. I’ve never seen that appear in anyone’s eyes when I’ve been around them. It’s been hard witnessing this at times. Seeing people find interest in beauty & material things. That’s never what I search for in a friend or a mate.

I search to try to find the genuine traits in people.

I don’t search for the latest hairstyle or the way they do their eyebrows. I search for someone who exhibits passion & humour. Someone who craves knowledge & travel. I look for this in people because these are the things I believe I contain as well & I want more than anything to see that in others.

The scary thing is, we’re more worried about how we’re perceived on the outside to even begin to try to show others how unique & different we are because we’re all craving to be beautiful & fit in.

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Beauty in What You Do & Not How You Look

Do you want to know what I perceive as beautiful? I think creativity is beautiful. I think hard work & buying gifts for your friends & writing love songs & poetry is beautiful. I find a man who rambles on for hours about a book he read or television show he watches to be far more attractive than someone who’s shirt can barely stay stitched together from the countless amount of muscles formed on his body & is rambling for hours about how long he spent at the gym.

We all have different perceptions of beauty, so of course mine isn’t the only opinion & everyone has different ideas of what they define as beautiful.

Life As The Ugly Duckling

I love my sister more than anything.

She’s so lucky to be naturally gifted & naturally loved. I call myself an ugly duckling when I’m with my sister, since I’m different & not easily noticed at all when I’m with her. I say it more as a joke than an actual fact or to pity myself.

I’ve grown to enjoy it.

It’s a reminder to myself. A reminder that things don’t always come easily, they need to be worked for. It’s a reminder that one day I’m going to find someone that doesn’t look twice at outer beauty in people, but instead sees more of pure & inner beauty.

I’m going to remind myself of the fact that I’m not naturally earning things on my own & will use that as a way to work toward my goals, ambitions & dreams to make them turn into a reality that I worked so extremely hard for & will one day really pay off in the end. I’m going to embrace the fact that not everyone is going to love me, but I will constantly work my hardest to love myself & embrace who I am.

My ugly duckling will continue to be a constant reminder to help me find & hold on to the true beauty in myself. 

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About The Author - Holly Landis

Holly Landis is a senior attending Colorado State University, graduating in December 2017 with her Bachelor of Arts in Media Communication & Film Studies. She is a lover of film. television, theatre & all things entertainment.

Holly hopes to obtain a career in the entertainment industry either writing or creating promotional content. She is becoming a lover of travel & is constantly on the go. Holly is passionate about puns & learning about proper cheeses & wines to pair.