You are beautiful.
You, with the freckle right above your lip and the hair that maybe hasn’t been washed in two days because you just haven’t had time. You, who runs from your first job to your second, who makes dinner every night at 5, who hand washes every dish even with manicured nails, and who wakes up early and goes to bed exhausted. You, who carries the kids and sets them in their car seats at six every morning, who has chunks of oatmeal on her work pants, who keeps a pen tucked behind her ear for emergencies, and who answers calls while wiping diapers and paying bills. You, who takes notes in class but just doesn’t understand, who can’t seem to fit in, who squeezes into pants that are two sizes too small just to feel skinny, who takes a slice of pizza then throws it in the trash. You are beautiful. You are beautiful on your stressed days, on your I-Can’t-Handle-This days. You are beautiful on your I-Just-Need-Wine-and-a-Nap days, on your I’m-a-Bad-Mommy days, on your I-Don’t-Get-This days, on your I-Feel-Like-an-Elephant days. You are beautiful even with those extra pepperoni and cheese calories, even in your sweatpants, even with your curves, and especially with that body reflecting back to you in the mirror. You are a combination of those who made you, of those who love you, of the challenges you’ve faced, of the battles you’ve overcome, of the decisions you’ve made, and of the people you’ve loved. Not of your mistakes or clothes or frizzy hair or kids’ whiny voices or failed quizzes or extra helpings of mashed potatoes. You are beautiful. Hold your head up high.
You are loved.
By your parents, even in their absence. By your children and the future children you will nurture with irreplaceable, motherly love. By your significant other. By your friends. By the person you met on the bus to work last week, whose hat you returned and whose eyes you met for a fleeting moment. By the seventh grade best friend who has found an old note you passed in biology class in a notebook on her shelf. By the first boy you ever loved, who still keeps the picture of the two of you in a shoebox under his bed.
And if not by your family, not by your friends, then by the strangers around you who see your face and are reminded of someone they love, whose days are turned around just by your smile, whose lives are significant, even just for a moment, because of your acknowledgement. By the teachers who have watched you improve your grammar and solve quadratic equations. By the librarian who watched you check out your first book. By the bus driver who saw you let another student go in front of you. You do not go unnoticed. You are loved.
You are noticed in class, even when no one looks at you when you speak. People see your sparkly shoes, even if they don’t say anything. Your face is recognized, even if someone asks for your name again. You are noticed in the corner cubicle of the library, in the bus seat third to the left of the door, in the far right corner of the classroom, on the soft side of the bed. When you are gone, people wonder where you are. When you leave, people miss your presence.
You matter to the people you love and the people who love you. You matter to the boy who sits in the seat to your left, who admires your golden-brown hair when he’s bored in class. You matter to the girl who never writes down the homework and asks you what page you’re on. You matter to your coworkers, who count on you to put the right paperwork in their boxes. You matter to the child who holds your hand to cross the street. You matter to the girl whose hair you complimented. You matter to the best friend and the ex-best friend who learned lessons of love and trust from you. You matter to the pets you take care of, to the plants you water, to the people you wave to every morning on your way to work. Even when it seems like the world doesn’t notice, even when it seems like the world doesn’t care—your life does matter. You are significant.