I don’t know what it’s like to live as anybody else. I’ve never walked a mile in anyone else’s shoes. I don’t know what it’s like to live in anyone else’s skin or see things from behind someone else’s eyes.
I know that what we see, think, feel and say are all open to interpretation. And here we are. It’s another day above the dirt. It seems you and I are on a voyage right now. Then again, we all are. We all have our individual purpose. We have our unique way of seeing things and whether we see this or not, we offer a unique package to the world around us.
I used to see things very differently. As I saw it, there were two kinds of people. First, there was the beautiful; and then there was everyone else. I used to call this my Velvet Rope Theory. I came upon this theory while standing outside of a club one night in New York City. There were crowds of people around the front door. There was a line that went down the street. And there was me, trying to find my way to the front.
The promoter of the club stood outside with a clipboard in his hand. This was the guest list. There were two very large bouncers standing nearby because in fairness, the promoter was known for being insulting to people that were looking to get “In” so-to-speak. The bouncers would have to escort the promoter to his car after the last call because people wanted to kill him!
To get “In” without waiting meant you had to look a certain way. You had to be exceptional. You had to be more than just pretty or simply handsome. You had to be beautiful.
There were people that would show up and wait outside the club for hours. They would stand on the outside of the velvet ropes and wait with hopes that somehow, they would be “Noticed” or seen as worthy enough for the bouncer to unclip one of the ropes and let them in. I remember hearing the promoter tell people, “There is no way you are ever getting in here,” and yet, they still waited. The promoter was skinny, pale-skinned, with a flashy style. He was no model himself but yet, he was the gatekeeper. People stood there and listened to his insults. They endured the comments because inside was the crowd. Inside was the music, the stories, the heat and the electricity, which is what everyone wants to feel.
I remember standing outside and looking in. I remember waiting to see if me or the crowd I was with were getting in. The promoter never looked at me. Then again, this could have depended upon the people I was with. The idea was to let in as many beautiful women as possible. Since my usual group lacked the feminine attributes and/or plumbing, and since crossdressing wasn’t my thing, I had to wait or see if I knew someone at the door or find my way in through some technicality.
To me, the Velvet Ropes were the beautiful people. They were the ones that had all the breaks because of what they looked like or who they were connected to. I saw their life as easier than mine. They had all the talent. They had all the friends and the connections. They had all the desired attention in the world because, of course and put simply, they were beautiful.
And to be honest, I always wanted to be beautiful. I wanted to be seen as beautiful by beautiful people. I wanted to be desired and wanted and feel comfortable in my own skin. Beauty is a feeling more than a description. And since this is so, above all, I always wanted to feel beautiful.
Groucho Marx once said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”
I don’t know much else about this quote but I do know how this quote relates to me. I know how this quote related to the way I used to see myself. Sometimes the hardest thing to see is one’s own beauty. Oftentimes, it is hard to understand the gleam in our eyes is precious to others.
It is hard to know that who we are (as we are) is enough to change the world. It’s enough to go beyond the commercial realm of typical beauty, but yet, we struggle to see this. Or wait, let me bring this back to me and speak honestly instead of speaking for anyone else. I never saw myself as beautiful or as anything other than awkward. If asked, I could list a thousand of my defects. But on the other side of this, I could hardly list a handful of my best attributes.
No one ever wants to be ugly. More accurately, no one wants to feel ugly. Ugly means unattractive, unpleasant and revolting. To me, to be ugly meant to be unwanted, unlikable, and worse, unincluded or uninvited.
I never had six-pack abs or the commercially picture-perfect body. I never had the hair that naturally fell in all the right places. I never had much athletic ability nor did I have the social grace or popularity. I was average. I felt average. I believed I was average and sometimes even less. I split the world between two sides of the velvet ropes. (Guess which side I was on . . .)
In my great loss of self and while caught in the misperception of who I am as well as in my misdirected assumptions on behalf of my insecurity, I held myself here as awkward, dull or insignificant and inelegant at best.
And the pretty? The beautiful? What would they know about this? What could they possibly know about this feeling? They’ve never walked in my shoes or lived in my skin or seen anything from behind the walls of my eyelids. What would they know about life without the open-door policy that mounts with gifts and showered attention for the physically desirable.
I have learned a lot since my Velvet Rope Theory. This is not to say that I do not experience emotional challenges. This is not to say that I do not have insecurities or find myself losing to comparisons. However, I do not see myself this way anymore. I had to change the way I saw my reflection. I had to change the way I talk about myself. I had to change the people I spoke with as well because people say ugly things. Plus, the one thing I learned is no matter how beautiful someone is; if they are ugly on the inside then they can only be average at best.
Ugly is a speech. Ugly is a way of living. Ugly is more than looks and ugly can be equally as systemic and misleading as the lies we believe about commercial beauty.
Beauty seeks beauty. Yes, this is true.
Beauty is the ability to be as you are without the colorful dressing or the glamorous decorations. Beauty comes from within. Beauty hurts and heals with scars and real-life episodes of ups and downs. Beauty is not looking for your place in the circle. Instead, being beautiful is understanding your place is perfectly centered exactly where it needs to be.
One of the best emails I ever received was from a girl from the old neighborhood. She was one of the Velvet Ropes. She was pretty. Had friends. Had attention. She had popularity. She had gifts and people looking to include her. She was always invited and yet, she sent me an email which, to my surprise, related to everything I said about feeling uncomfortable in our skin. She felt ugly. She believed she was ugly. She was this “Thing” in people’s life. No one knew her. No one cared to go deeper than the surface level.
After reading her email, I realized there is no velvet rope. Who would have thought someone as beautiful as her would ever think of hanging it up? Who would have known that someone with all the so-called advantages could possibly consider the ideas of suicide because they believed they were ugly? Who would have thought she would know what it feels like to struggle with an overwhelming sense of insecurity? Who would have known that she felt the same as someone like you or me?
Beauty is a concept. Beauty is a mindset. Beauty is who we are when we are real or pure as we are, which is perfect. Beauty is the comfortability of being who you are without the need to be “In” or accepted.
I had to find my own sense of beauty. I had to learn about my best attributes. This does not mean that I do not have discomfort or struggle with compliments. Besides, what are compliments anyway? What does a compliment do besides lead to discomfort when we don’t believe in ourselves? What does it mean when someone says “You are beautiful” when all you feel is ugly?
I may not have six-pack abs or bulging arms. My eyes are shaped differently and so are my ears. My teeth are what they are. My weight is what it is. My height will never get me a seat with any of the NBA teams and I’ll never run faster than the fastest running back in the NFL.
Then again, none of them will ever match what I can do either so . . . there’s that.
We all have our best attributes. And it’s not money or a good build. It’s certainly not separated by velvet ropes. No, this comes from within. Unfortunately, not everyone is beautiful enough to understand that beauty is not always beautiful.
Know what I mean?