The Guy at the Mall

By Scott Westerman
Listen to an audio version of this message.

Here’s a Facebook post that one of our young friends wrote this week.

Random guy at the mall walks toward me and says (or should I say slurs): “You look just like my ex-girlfriend except you’re what she would look like with blonde hair. I knew I’d hate it.”
…thank you?

My “Dad Reflex” kicks in at moments like these. I wanted to punch the guy in the face. But my zen mind calmed that down and got me to thinking about what constitutes beauty. Here’s what I wrote back to her:

His idea of true beauty is so disconnected from reality that he totally missed it when he finally saw it.

We seek diamonds because of the monitary value others attach to them, but we miss the backstory that hides within; how their beauty is the result of surviving tremendous pressure over centuries, how they already had the elements of perfection inside and it just took time for them to coalesce, and how the story of what made them beautiful is much more important than what we see on the exterior.

When I look at you, I see all of this complexity, the ups and downs, the life experience so far that has made you the wonderful person you are. I see the potential that is still hidden, waiting to be revealed. These are the things that can put more polish on the total human being that is growing within you.

So many people out there never get past the illusions on the surface. The real tragedy surrounding that sorry guy at the mall is how he will never recognize real beauty. It’s definition was standing right in front of him… imperfect and authentic as it always is, but still worthy of all love and encouragement that we can share.

It’s too bad that we don’t have the time to help enlighten these tortured souls. But life is too short. And there are too many amazing people like you, who richly deserve our time, our attention… and affection.

I wrote that to this young person. But it applies to all of you. We are all works in progress, diamonds in the rough. We are all worthy of appreciation and deserving of the loving, honest feedback that transforms coal into diamonds.

Dr. Phil wrote, “Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, because not one bit of my self esteem is tied up in your acceptance.”

We’re not all that self actualized. Our feelings can be hurt. But when they are, think beyond the hurtful words to try to understand the pain within the person who said them. That exercise can help you strengthen you compassion, and distance the real you from the incorrect illusion the drunk guy in the mall thinks he sees.