For those who don’t feel like they have it, it’s the only thing that matters. For those who seem to have it, it’s one of the few things that matter.
Why? Because no matter what we tell ourselves, beauty doesn’t make promises. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll always be supported, loved, liked, or even wanted. And as Tyler reveals, beauty may bring people into your life, but it isn’t always enough to make them stay.
For me, being aware of my looks came very early on. I used to have coke bottle bifocals like Harry Potter. And people would often say I was so cute in a geeky way with my big glasses. But when I got contacts when I was 9/10, everything changed: it quickly became very clear that people thought I was attracted. Because it happened at a very young age, it affected my confidence and how I talked to girls to the point that it even helped my buddies get girlfriends.
Looking back, I have friends who talk about how much it sucked for them, especially when it came to girls. But my experience was very different. Things felt pretty simple and junior and high school was a time where my confidence was boosted, not taken away. Realizing I was attractive made me put more thought and effort into how I looked because there was this standard and expectation that everyone placed on me. I remember that girls would always come up with these lists of the hottest boys in the school and I was often at the top of the list. So, I always felt like I had to live up to this really high expectation of beauty.
There was always a level of internal conflict, and despite all of that attention, I never thought I had anything to really offer anyone as a person…because people only wanted to use me for those I knew–no one wanted to stay with me.
But there was another side to that. Because there was an expectation, anytime I went out I’d have to spent time, a lot of time, putting myself together, making sure all blemishes were covered up. I could never just roll out with just a cap on. I felt like I had to have a girl on my arm because that’s what people expected of me in school: to always have a really cute girlfriend and always look good.
It made it difficult for me to explore because they expected me to be the cute band guy with the girlfriend. I felt like there was this character I always had to portray with little room for change, so I stuck with the same haircut and overall look–I was never able to switch things up and try something knew or figure out who I was outside of everyone’s expectations of beauty. For example, one time when I got a haircut that was too short, I was deathly afraid to go to school the next day. I worried more about how people saw me than the kind of guy I wanted to be.
Back in high school–and even up to now–people assume I have always been completely secure with myself and how I looked. But even though I got a lot of positive attention, that’s not the case. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was insecure because I was aware of how attractive I was to others, but I was not very confident at all in who I was as a person or my personality. There was always a level of internal conflict, and despite all of that attention, I never thought I had anything to really offer anyone as a person.
It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t because I wasn’t good enough or that I was lacking, just that I had to get better about the people I surrounded myself with.
For example, I was afraid to crack jokes because I thought people wouldn’t laugh. So, because I didn’t feel comfortable doing it and didn’t want to risk humiliation, I didn’t think I had a sense of humor. And even though I always had so many people around me, I was very afraid of losing my friends because a lot of them would hang out with me for a couple of months, but when they met and started hanging out with my other friends, all of a sudden they’d stop hitting me up and they’d leave me behind. That really affected me emotionally. I felt lonely and like I didn’t have any value because people only wanted to use me for those I knew–no one wanted to stay with me.
Eventually, I started to realize what a real friend was and that I had to get better at knowing when someone was legitimately interested in getting to know me, instead of having an ulterior motive like trying to be my friend to get to a certain place in their life or benefit from whatever connections I had, using me and anything I had for their own benefit. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t because I wasn’t good enough or that I was lacking, just that I had to get better about the people I surrounded myself with.