on sideways glancing + confidence / by Haley Russell

The other day, in the grocery store, I saw a woman with a baby. I'm 25 and not married, so babies are so not in my plans right now. But, I saw this sweet woman, probably my age or a few years older, floating down the aisle. Her baby was sitting in the little seat calmly and was dressed beautifully. She'd bought one of those little drape things that go over the metal so your kid doesn't get Ebola or whatever the disease of the day is. I looked at her, and then I looked quickly back at the soup. Trying to avoid her eye, or really anyone's eye, I thought about my unwashed hair. I considered my face, which hadn't seen makeup in about a week. I thought about my teacher outfit -- the one I wear to be comfortable (leggings, a comfy dress/tunic, and Vans). My eyeballs seemed to also be upset and started to leak. 

I looked sideways. 

Man, I do this all the time. And it's so frustrating. I know Grocery Lady (who probably has an awesome name like Grace) has her fair share of problems. I know, too, that I didn't see the dark spaces in her day. But as I was looking extra hard at the soup, I began to think of all the times that insecurity turned into hate. I remember, as a teenager, hating the girls who'd somehow made it through high school without blemishes (I mean, how is that even possible?). I remember feeling my blood boil as a young adult at the thought of a woman marrying her college boyfriend and buying a sweet little house. But, Grocery Lady made me think differently. 

I know I'll probably never stop sideways glancing. I have an Instagram account, for heaven's sake. So, instead, I promised myself in the soup aisle that I would stop pitting Grocery Lady's awesome qualities against my bad ones. I would stop, right then and there, with the comparison game. Because, quite honestly, that's what the world wants from us. And I'm not going to give it to them anymore. Instead, I'm going to smile really big and hope my happiness translates into, "You're doing awesome and I'm proud of you!" Because that's really all we need to hear from each other. 

If you find yourself looking sideways, sister, just know you're not alone. And remember, just because your hair may be unwashed or your dude hasn't called today, or your boss is the literal worst, doesn't mean Grocery Lady's remembering to shower somehow makes her a better woman. We're in this together. Let's link arms and do this thing the right way. 

walking with you,