empathy

What Does “BEAUTIFUL” Actually Mean?

Photography by  Laura Makabresku

Photography by Laura Makabresku

“You look beautiful today.” You must’ve said or heard that sometime in your life. But what is it really?

A compliment to make someone feel good? A testament to their looks? No. Being beautiful runs deeper than your skin. It runs deeper than the visual appeal. It takes a lot to be beautiful. It isn’t determined by just a single thing, like how you look ‘today’.

What is a beautiful person?

Someone who has passion, someone who valiantly moves through the world despite being scared of everything that he/she runs into after every corner, someone who holds the railing of the staircase to stand up on their own, after being thrown down it a million times.

Being beautiful is smiling after wiping your tears, it’s smiling while tears are still falling from your red eyes, it is sacrificing your sleep after an exhausting week to talk to your friend who is on the verge of a mental breakdown, it is driving to your lover’s house in the middle of night because you couldn’t stop thinking about them. It’s staying with someone who is all alone in their sadness and saying, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m here for you. NO MATTER WHAT.” It’s in making people feel that they are not alone in the tough times. It’s attempting to make someone laugh when they’re about to cry. Being beautiful is keeping your word no matter what happens. It’s about being reliable.   

Being beautiful is ANYTHING but “perfect” looks. It is not about how you look in your filtered selfie, it is NOT the number of ‘likes’ on your picture or how many followers you have on Instagram. Being beautiful is having the courage to take a picture of yourself despite having social anxiety; it is having the courage to love your face when you wish you could ‘edit’ your face ‘just once’. Being beautiful is about running your fingertips down your uneven body and making funny faces in the mirror.

You can’t be ‘beautiful’ for one day or for one picture. Being a beautiful person is a responsibility. It takes a lot of hard work to be beautiful. You have to have a lot of strength to go through a lot of shit days, you have to eat a lot of complaints and criticisms, you have to let go of many hands because they were strangling who you are. Being beautiful is a mindset. How you THINK, what you think ABOUT, your view about the world, how you handle criticisms. It’s about how you stand up after someone pushed you down on the ground and has been kicking you down for years; your beauty is what you do to him/her after you stand up. Being beautiful is about knowing the difference between what is easy and what is right. It is giving someone the space so they could grow into their real selves. It is giving them encouragement, instead of criticism. You are beautiful if you do that. You really are.

Being beautiful is how you walk into a storm willingly, knowing you’ll come out the other side, intact but different in some ways. It is about knowing what is worth the fight and what is not. It is about having the courage to stand up for yourself when everyone is busy pointing fingers at you. Being beautiful is knowing who you are and it is NOT the opinion of others. There is beauty in saying NO to things, there is beauty in asking for things that you know you deserve because you worked for them. Being beautiful is about singing even loudly after someone tells you that you should never sing again. You’re singing for yourself. It’s to make yourself feel better. Being beautiful is knowing when to walk away and when to hold on to things or people. It is knowing that you deserve unconditional love because you’re ready to give that. It is about having the maturity to know who to give second chances to. It’s about knowing what you’re worth. And that you’re not better OR worse than somebody. Being beautiful is knowing that not everything is a competition. It’s not about being BETTER than SOMEONE ELSE, but only yourself. Being beautiful is knowing that you only have to be BETTER than your old self or your current self. It’s knowing who deserves your silences and who deserves your justifications and defenses.

You’re NOT beautiful for what you look like. Being pretty doesn’t make you beautiful, being ordinary-looking doesn’t make you beautiful either. You know what things are beautiful? Kindness is beautiful. It really is. Chivalry is beautiful. Respect is beautiful. Love is beautiful. Empathy is beautiful. They run deeper than the skin. They really do. They appeal to people’s souls, not to their lust. Remember that. 

Beautiful is knowing the infinity of yourself.

You are what you read, how you speak, how others feel around you, how you feel around others, what music you listen to, what movies are your favourites, how you like to spend time on weekends. You are what you dream about. Your dreams, ah, the whole concept of dreams is wonderful. They are so soft and fragile, so precious. Sometimes, tragic too. Being beautiful is knowing you can have dreams. It’s about following that little voice in your head that says, “Ah, I wish…”

Don’t wish, work. Work FOR yourself. Don’t wish to be ‘prettier’, wish to be a beautiful person. WORK to be a beautiful person. Re-invent yourself, or recover the parts of yourself that you killed over the years because for whatever reason. You are the salvation that you’re waiting for. You’re the miracle that you’re waiting for. You ARE all that you’ve lost, YOU are what you HAVE, and YOU are what you’re looking for. Dream of being the person that YOU ACTUALLY ARE. Being ourselves is the best thing we can ever achieve on this earth. Are you ready to be that person?

Oshin Ahlawat is a young poet and writer based in New Delhi, India. “I believe people who write are like tornados and cyclones. We wreck a lot of lives; for better or worse. It all depends on the people who read our work. They decide where the damage is going to be; the heart or the mind and whether it’s going to be for the good or for worse. I wish to give them the choice to decide that. I’m just going to focus on doing what I want”, she says.