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It’s Your Inner Girlfriend Calling

Psst. Hey — over here. Can you hear me? It’s me, your inner girlfriend. We haven’t connected in awhile, with all the noise surrounding your daily quest to make it to 9:00 PM without someone crying or losing her shit. (That includes you.)

But it’s about time we talked. ‘Cause I got something to say to you.

Those pictures you scroll through that fill your head with doubts about your own beauty? I’m talking about the ones strategically taken from a bird’s eye view — the ones with shoulders pulled back and tilted, faces angled ever so slightly. The photographs softened by artistic filters and effects. I’m referring to those depictions of friends and strangers, who reflect a fresh-faced exuberance that belie years of inadequate, interrupted sleep; the frantic screamfest that’s become the morning routine; the overflowing laundry baskets hidden in dark closets; and the litany of “To Do”s that seems to grow faster and linger longer than the grays on your head.

Sure, they all look beautiful. So go on — peel off those yoga pants you’ve been wearing for the past three days, doll up that face (you might have to take a shower first; confession: I would), grab a selfie-stick and proceed to take 45 pictures. Delete 43. Experiment with a couple of filters. Voila! Now don’t you look gorgeous? Your job is done.

But you’ve got it all wrong, girlfriend. Sure, you look beautiful, but what truly defines your beauty are your passions. You know — the stuff that gets you all crazy excited. The things that elicit a laugh from deep within your gut. Maybe it’s a night out with your besties. Or when you rock out in your mom ride to a favorite jam. (You should see me at a stoplight listening to Naughty by Nature. Can we say “Smokin’!”?) What truly makes you beautiful is your enthusiasm for the things that resonate deep within your soul — the things that make you unabashedly, unapologetically YOU.

And I know some of the posts where friends tag themselves at the nearby gym or at home doing their latest Beach Body thing gets you all hatin’ — sometimes on them, but mostly on yourself. Maybe for you, a half-marathon ain’t happening because the only running you’re concerned with involves getting your little people to their activities. Perhaps your ability to hold a plank rivals your ability to hold your pee when you sneeze, jump or laugh. And let’s not forget how you feel in the shadow of those women who consistently flex their inner brawn. The ones you’re convinced are on a 24 hour caffeine drip (or possibly even cocaine). They all seem to have their shit together, don’t they? They’re working, volunteering at the school, doing yoga, cranking out the latest Pintrest craft, shuttling their kids to at least two activities a day, and to add insult to injury, serving up a home-cooked meal every night that accurately reflects the food guide pyramid. And there you are — feeling triumphant if you even make it to the shower.

Buttercup, you gotta stop measuring our own sense of strength, both inner and outer, against the abilities of others. Your strength is not defined by what others can achieve but rather by your ability to overcome those situations you once thought insurmountable. That transition you made from full-time working professional to full-time working professional AND full-time mom? Or the choice you made to permanently leave your promising career for the unchartered waters of child-rearing? That took balls. Now that’s strong. That brave face you affix as you forge forward to meet your children’s ever changing physical, emotional and psychological needs when all you want to do is crawl into bed or just stare at the walls? That’s true strength, girlfriend. And don’t you forget it.

So maybe nobody’s reacting to your posts, retweeting your tweets, repinning your pins, or tapping the heart icon on your Instagram pics. Your spouse keeps forgetting to call and say he’ll be late. Again. Your kids gag and proceed to protest the meals you make them. You feel forgotten because you weren’t included in another’s plans. Not feeling the love by others makes you feel isolated and alone which in turn perpetuates the belief that you are unloved or even worse — unloveable.

But I’m here to dispel that notion because it’s bullshit. You are not alone. You are part of a sisterhood of sorts: A sisterhood of women who, regardless of carpool couture or lack thereof, shares the same fears. They fear rejection. Being misunderstood. Messing it all up. This sisterhood shares the same hopes. They hope just to get through the day because, like you, they’re winging this whole motherhood thing. And they hope to make the next day better because more often than not, things don’t go as planned.

Not only are you not alone, girlfriend, but you are also loved by the people who matter most. The little hand that reaches for yours or the quiet talks initiated by your older kids at bedtime. The spouse who reads your face, orders take-out and later gently nudges you out the door so you can wander the Target aisles aimlessly. The friend who shoots you that sudden text: Hey! Miss you. Wanna grab some coffee? Now that’s love. It might not come in the form of grandiose, romanticized gestures you see in the movies. But real life’s too complicated to be condensed to a 120 minute popcorn affair. So stop and take a look at what’s before you. Love: It’s there.

And while you pause to do so, don’t forget about me. I know you’re typically too busy or too tired to give your inner girlfriend much thought. But I’m here as I’ve always been and always will be. From your triumphs to your fails — I continue to love you in spite of them, not despite them. Remember girlfriend: You’re beautiful. You’re strong. And most of all, you are loved.

(Incredible Artwork provided by the very talented Jessi Olarsch. For commissions please inquire at  jessiolarsch@gmail.com  and for prints please visit www.society6.com/jessioart )

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