On Audrey Hepburn’s Feet & Our Small Selves

Too often, we focus on our flaws to the detriment of our happiness.

I stumbled across this beautiful story through a link from Shiny Yoga tonight. It’s a personal narrative from a yoga teacher named Jennifer Pastiloff on the website Tiny Buddha:

“I have profound hearing loss; in fact, I am almost deaf and wear hearing aids. I have ringing in my ears 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Does it drive me mad most days? Yes. However, it is here to stay, and I have learned that I can make light of it or sit home and feel sorry for myself because I am missing out on what feels like everything.

Either way the choice is mine to make…. I have turned something I don’t necessarily “love” having into another piece in the puzzle of me, and part of why I love that puzzle.”

Isn’t that what we’re all after with yoga–a little relaxed self-acceptance? I am as guilty of being insecure, grumpy, and anxious as anyone else. Sometimes all three are enmeshed; it is impossible to separate the grumpiness from the root anxiety that causes me to be snappish or easily frustrated in the first place. Everyone struggles with some sort of physical insecurity. I could make a loooong personal list. As my thesis reading tells me, even Audrey Hepburn, famous for her beauty and elegance, thought she had serious flaws, that her feet were too big, her shoulders too bony, her teeth flawed. She even declared, according to her son Sean Ferrer’s lovely memoir, that she was only “fake thin”! Looking at Hepburn’s films now, we can easily see the silliness of such thinking. She was lovely. Why didn’t she see it? Why don’t we all see our strengths, instead of our so-called flaws?

Worse than the physical insecurities, I think, are the insecurities we all have about our futures. I’ve been having a bout with graduation-anxiety lately: what am I going to do? Will I be broke? Forever? Studentloansstudentloansstudentloans…..

The irony is, if I enjoyed my program and my current on-campus jobs less, I’d be welcoming graduation with open arms. Since life is really fun and rewarding right now, I’m loathe to leave it behind.

But I have a choice.

I can recognize that I’m sad about graduation and address it.  I can replace my worries surrounding my decreasing bank balance or my expanding waistline with a fun activity that takes my mind off these temporary problems. I can write it all down, where it seems small and insignificant on the page. I can plan a solution. Or several. I can exercise, which I know will make me feel better, emotionally as well as physically. In retrospect, my better nature tells me, these thoughts will seem silly and fleeting. It is battling them in the moment that is so difficult. The small self takes over, as a fellow writer mentioned recently. For a small self, it takes up plenty of psychic space.

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