Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Beauty Defined and Five-Year-Old Flying Alone.
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Hello and welcome to episode #53 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Beauty Defined and Five-Year-Old Flying Alone.
“Your skin is so smooth and white. How do you keep your skin looking so beautiful?” someone would say. “I just wash it with water,” I’d say. Fair and smooth skin with little to no blemishes on my face was what you could see when I was young. Now I have bags under my eyes and a couple of age spots on my cheeks. I also have drooping cheeks and eyelids. I even have a hint of a double chin and a crease on either side of my cheeks. I no longer have smooth skin from my nose to the side of my face. What happened? Aging crept in, and I couldn’t stop it. While many try to bring youth or beauty back to the face, I found something else that grows more beautiful elsewhere.
Looking at old photos of myself, I saw my flawless skin. I had high cheekbones that clearly showed my diamond-shaped face. My eyes, nose, and mouth were all medium-sized and well-proportioned. I didn’t know better to appreciate my beauty when I was younger. Only now do I appreciate it because it is no more. Now I hate seeing the age spots that don’t permanently disappear, even though I had laser zaps to rid them. They came back, or my skin produced more. Now I wish for the diamond-shaped face I once had. It made me look skinnier and sharper. What I see now is a more rounded and fuller face. The new shape makes my eyes, nose, and mouth look smaller. I would rather have medium-sized ones.
I didn’t know a person’s face shape could change. I didn’t realize the skin on my face would droop. And it was unsettling to know that things could appear on your smooth face without notice. How did it all happen without my permission? How did I not know when it happened? It happened without my consent, and I have no say about it. It is frightening!
Though I cannot stop time, and I cannot stop aging, there is something I can do to make myself more beautiful. I can do a number of things to be more attractive and admirable.
When I am happy, I will smile more and be more attractive. When I am well-rested, I am energized and alert. I become more pleasing to the eyes. When I feel loved and supported, I am pleasant to be around. Taking care of my health and well-being can positively affect my appearance.
I do not have great control over my outer beauty that fades over time if left up to nature. But I have much control over my inner beauty, which can grow more beautiful each day. My face may grow uglier and uglier each day as I age. You may not enjoy looking at me, but you are not worth my time if you can’t see beyond it. My face is like a book. You want it to look good on the outside to attract or make others like you. However, peering in is crucial to find its value. My beauty, my value, is on the inside.
The more I look into my inner self, the more beauty I find. It gets more and more beautiful as I age. It is the opposite of my outer beauty. I was once a shy girl who couldn’t make small talk in social gatherings, but now I can comfortably engage in discussions. I was once afraid to venture out to explore on my own, but now I can trot the globe alone without fear. Bullied, teased, demeaned, and harassed in the past, I can now stand up for myself and demand respect. Once troubled by being different, I now embrace my uniqueness. I was disturbed by other people’s jealousy of me, but now I smile that I have something others want. I once wanted acceptance from others, but now all I need is for me to accept myself. I once yearned for love from others, but now I know to love myself first. Once ashamed of the family that tossed me, I have learned not to be limited or controlled by the past. Once afraid to express my inner thoughts and feelings, I now write and publish memoirs. Once ashamed of my adversities, I now share them with lessons learned and inspire others. I thought success was owning more possessions, but I have found that my value is from who I am and not what I have.
The courage, strength, resilience, tenacity, creativity, wisdom, and adaptability that develops within me are all a part of my inner beauty. My willingness to continually learn, discover, and change is also part of my inner beauty. My ability to overcome one adversity after another and inspire others along the way is monumental. With my inner beauty increasing, my value keeps rising. The more value I find in myself, the more beautiful I feel.
Outer beauty is only a matter of opinion. Inner beauty is a matter of how I feel. When I feel love, peace, and happiness, I exude beauty. I exude beauty when I can be proud of my accomplishments and who I am. I am beautiful when I feel beautiful. And feeling beautiful is all that matters.
Five-Year-Old Flying Alone
Put on an airplane to fly alone from the south to the east coast was me. I sat quietly while a flight attendant buckled me up. She would walk by, checking on me every so often. I heard whispers of flight attendants saying that I was five years old and needed to be watched. “Are you okay?” one would say. She spoke so gently, as if I was a fragile child about to be broken if not handled gently.
I sat quietly on the aisle seat, but I wished I was by the window seat where I could look out at the clouds. They looked so light, floating freely. I dreamed of sitting and playing on a cloud. The thought of it had me chuckle. And then another flight attendant came by to ask, “Is everything okay?” Goodness, I couldn’t even make a sound?
Though it was my first air flight, and I was a little scared, I was also excited for such an adventure to do something I had never done before. That must have been the Sagittarian in me. New things would always excite me more than scare me. But getting on an airplane for the first time was perhaps when I learned to be brave in the face of unfamiliarity.
Soon another flight attendant stopped by to ask if I was okay. I started feeling annoyed. Why do they need to keep asking? I am just sitting here buckled up; what could I do that was not okay? The fighter in me reared its head. It said, “Don’t you dare think I can’t do this; I can take care of myself, thank you.”
Strapped to my chair, I couldn’t go anywhere physically, but I could go anywhere in my imagination. I dreamed of sitting on the clouds again. I’d look down and see the world below. Everything was different, and I was full of wonder. There were so many things to see and so many places to go. Maybe that was the beginning of my interest in travel. I certainly became an avid traveler later in life.
After dinner, I needed to go to the bathroom. I tried to unbuckle myself with a bit of difficulty, but a flight attendant came to my rescue. I was angry and had a hissy fit inside of me. Why couldn’t she just let me figure it out and unbuckle myself? Just a little girl, I was already fighting for my independence or trying to say I didn’t need anyone.
It was only a six-hour flight from Mom’s house to Grandma Sandy’s house. Yet the flight attendants treated me like a baby who couldn’t take care of herself. I was on the airplane because Mom was sending me to live with Grandma, who had just immigrated to America. Why it was happening, I didn’t understand at the time. Grandma would later explain that my young mom had her hands full trying to take care of four kids, so Grandma offered to help lighten her load. Though I was told this, I didn’t believe it for the longest time. I unconsciously or unknowingly thought that I was unwanted and unloved. I was being tossed out; I was not valuable. Since I was dumped, the rebellious me said, “You don’t want me? I don’t need you either. I will show you I don’t need you because I can care for myself.”
I can recall my behavior on the airplane. Still, I was unaware that my personality or way of being was already developed by the life-changing event of being sent to live with Grandma and her family.
As a young child, I was already quiet, observing others and thinking many thoughts in my head. I was already escaping reality with my imagination or daydreams. And I had fun in that world. It was an adventure to see new things and imagine what I wanted.
Since Mom tossed me at age five, my unconscious reaction was: “I don’t need you or anyone; I can take care of myself.” Early on, I fought to show my independence. I had to prove I didn’t need Mom or Dad since they tossed me. If anyone tried to help me, I’d get angry because the help told me I couldn’t do it myself. And I had to show I was strong, able, and brave. I knew this about myself for decades, but I didn’t realize that it started so early in my life!
I was not proud of being independent. I was angry I had to be. As a grown woman, friends would ask me how I could be so self-sufficient and independent. I always said it was, as Charles Darwin said, “survival of the fittest.” But now I know it was from that first flight on the airplane.
Though I may have reacted in a rebellious way from the trauma induced upon me by Mom’s decision, it led me to exercise the skills of imagination, independence, and bravery. Today I am grateful to be an expert with those qualities or survival skills.
I remember a flight attendant taking me by the hand and walking me off the plane. There was a smile on my face because I got to ride on an airplane. After that, I would come to have many new adventures by living in a city with Grandma and continuing to use my imagination, bravery, and independence.
As brave as I was as a kid, I felt my bravery was constantly tested or challenged. It took me over three decades to do something I didn’t dare to do. It took so long because I was deftly afraid. But after taking a personal development course, I mustered up the courage to give my mother a phone call on her birthday. I had never called her on her birthday before that day. My purpose was not even to call her because it was her birthday. I had another reason and only used her birthday as a reason to call her.
What led to that phone call when it happened? How did I overcome decades of fear of making that phone call? Simply put, I did an activity in my personal development course. The task was to face another class participant and keep repeating the story I had carried with me all my life. It was my job to identify the story I told myself constantly. A story that bothered me, affected me, and impacted my entire life was the story. It only took me seconds to identify my account. It was always with me because it would not leave me alone! I didn’t know how many times I needed to repeat it, but I was told to keep saying it until I felt I was done with it.
I didn’t count how many times I repeated it, but I know I was the last class participant of over sixty people still repeating my story.
The story went like this: Mom sent me to live with Grandma because she didn’t want me and didn’t love me. I fought back and showed her I didn’t need her.
When I began telling my story, I told my listener, who sat closely in front of me, the fact. His job was to listen and not respond in any way. I wanted the guy to understand what Mom did to me. I was the victim, but I also fought back with a vengeance. The more I said it, the angrier I got. I wanted the guy to react and say I was right; I had a bad Mom, but he didn’t say anything. I continued repeating, and my anger eventually subsided. Through my tone, I showed my self-righteousness. I wanted my listener to understand how I felt and had been wronged all these years.
As I continued repeating my story, I began feeling like it was a stupid task because it did nothing to make me feel better. However, being a good student, I continued repeating my story but in a monotone. I think I started to lose my emotions and was going through the motions of doing the task. It began to feel a bit annoying and meaningless.
Suddenly, my aha moment came. The story I told myself all my life was just a story I told myself. I created it; it was not a fact, but I made it my reality. I never realized it was a story I made up and then deemed a fact. All at once, I also realized that when I had the epiphany, seconds later, I reclaimed the power that was in my hands all along. Freedom swiftly appeared to allow me the courage to change my story or create a new account that would empower me.
Freed from the prison I surrounded myself with, the jail bars seemed to disappear, and like a bird, I flew out to call Mom.
My voice shook with nervous tension, and I asked Mom the question I always wanted to know the answer to: “Why did you send me to live with Grandma?” Mom, on the other end of the line, matter-of-factly answered, “Because I had too many kids to take care of, and Grandma offered to help.” “Why me?” I said. “Because you were low-maintenance. Your younger sister was sick and frail all the time. Your older sister could help me do some things. You required the least amount of work, and I didn’t want to give Grandma too much work,” Mom replied. Grandma had told me this kind of statement many times in the ten years I lived with her. I didn’t believe her all those years. However, after realizing that I had made up the story, my mind cleared, and blank pages opened. There was now space to hear Mom. Though I have heard the story many times before, I suddenly felt like it was the first time I really heard it and accepted it.
Little Emily finally freed herself from the cage she had unknowingly locked herself inside!
Though our outer beauty will fade, our inner beauty can grow more beautiful each day, exuding out and appearing on our faces.
Though I had trapped myself in a cage of feeling unwanted and unloved when Mom sent me away at age five, I grew up to realize that I was the author of that story. The epiphany released me from the cage; I stopped acting like a victim and reclaimed my power.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called Singled Out or Just Different and Unexpected Compassion. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!