This is the essay I wrote for the MORE model search, which I wrote about here.  The judging was based 50% on a brief (there was a strict word count) essay answering the question, “What makes you feel beautiful, inside and out?” and 50% on a photo of yourself. I used the picture to the left. At the time I entered, I couldn’t post the essay on this blog. Well, I didn’t win, but I’m still glad I entered. In case you didn’t click over to MORE’s site before, here’s what I wrote.

The truth is, I don’t always feel beautiful. I think it goes back to growing up painfully shy. I still remember one horrible day in school when a teacher announced to the class that I was the quietest student he’d ever taught. Everyone turned around to look at me, as if I was some kind of freak. I felt blood rush to my face and my heart raced. I hated myself for being so reserved. Despite this (or perhaps, because of), I went on to become a psychologist and wrote three books on shyness and social anxiety. Although I enjoy writing and helping others, I still find promoting my work challenging. The strange thing is, throughout all of this, I’ve enjoyed a love affair with the camera. It treats me well. And almost magically, seeing myself in a photo gives me objectivity. I can view myself through a lens of compassion, and am better able to tune out the pesky gremlins in my head that tell me I’m not good enough. But it’s still not easy—this feeling beautiful stuff—and I’ve learned to be okay with that. “Feeling beautiful” comes and goes, because feelings come and go. What matters most is believing I am worthy. Worthiness doesn’t have to be earned; it just is. To me, worthy means speaking my truth, owning my power, and taking risks. And you know what? That painfully shy girl, who tried so hard to remain under the radar, is no longer afraid to tell her story. Sometimes, the story line even reads, “Hey, I’m beautiful.”

A Shy Person’s Secret Wish

Have you seen this e-card zooming around the Internet lately? While I wouldn’t say it describes me perfectly, there’s something about it that rings true. I relate to the tension of being naturally introverted, yet caring deeply about things and wanting to share my voice with the world. I’ve also had this secret, somewhat silly wish to be a model. I’ve always known I’m photogenic, and I enjoy having my picture taken (if I’m in the right mood).  What a contradiction–a shy person who wants to be a model. No wonder I don’t understand myself sometimes!

When I saw there was a model search contest sponsored by More magazine, I decided to enter. I had a photo (the one Greg took of me for this blog). But in addition to the photo, you had to write an essay on “what makes you feel beautiful, inside and out.” This was a major sticking point for me. The truth is, I don’t always feel beautiful. Sometimes I feel anything but beautiful. So should I even enter this contest? I wrestled for days with my essay, and almost called it quits. In the end, I like what I wrote. You can read it here.

The winner gets a trip for two to New York, a professional photo shoot, and will be featured in the print edition of More magazine. I don’t expect to win, but I’m glad I entered. I’m also glad I decided to tell you about it 🙂 I almost didn’t.