Your glow up might not be something others can see. It might not come across as a shift on the surface.
In a world of revenge bodies and comeback relationships, a world that tries to tell you that your ultimate transformation should be splayed out across your Instagram feed, we’ve lost what it really means to heal, to improve, to move on with our lives.
Your glow up is not learning to draw your eyebrows on perfectly, though that is a perfectly fine thing to want to learn to do. Your glow up is not wearing tighter clothes, faster fashion, a relationship you can show others to prove that you are finally, wanted, though all of those things are empowering and incredible if you choose them. Your transformation is not that you go out with your friends a lot, it is not that you make money now. It is not that you have earned goodness on the surface.
This kind of glow up is empty. That’s why it’s never enough.
The real glow up isn’t proving the people from your past wrong. It is finally feeling so content and hopeful about your future that you stop thinking about them entirely.
When you want to change your life in order for it to look different, and only that, you are still orbiting around the opinions of people who didn’t love you, and didn’t have any intention to.
You can always tell the difference, too. People who have truly transformed are not concerned solely with how things appear. Their lives are now focused intently on how things feel, how they really are underneath it all.
A real glow up is authentic. It is lifting off all the cover-up bullshit and addressing the real problems. It is healing. It is changing, for good. It is, for the first time, prioritizing your heart over someone else’s eyes.
Anyone can piece together an image that looks better. Anyone can edit and filter and lay picture after picture, side by side, to create a narrative, a story, a semblance of the whole. Anyone can buy their way into beauty, anyone can look nicer if they really try, anyone can convince you that they are doing better than they really are.
If they are so intent on trying to prove that, it is probably because they are still so empty inside.
What if you weren’t worried about whether or not you looked bigger or smaller or nicer or better than you did 10 years ago?
What if you were more concerned about whether or not you gained self-respect, real relationships, emotional freedom, mental clarity, a job you appreciate, work you respect, a kinder and more empathetic disposition?
What if your accomplishments were not something you could photograph or measure, nothing you could loosely try to communicate across some pixels and status updates. How are you feeling today? Better than you did yesterday? More whole, more confident?
The truth is that there is no before and after in life. We are always in a process of shedding and becoming. That snapshot moment you’re waiting for, that instance in which someone dares to look you up again and sees, finally, that you are thriving… is a game for you, and you alone.
Nobody is looking at you the way you think they are. Nobody is thinking about you the way you wish they would. They are looking at themselves. They are thinking about themselves. They are reading themselves.
This isn’t sad, it’s freeing. This should be the crux of your ultimate liberation.
The truth is that you have nobody to prove wrong but yourself. The people from your past probably didn’t disapprove of yourself nearly as much as you feared they did.
This closure is for you. This growth is for you. This change is yours. This is you vs. you, you meeting you, you seeing you for the first time. This is about you becoming who you know you can be. This is about you finally living up to your potential.
But mostly, this is about you recognizing that you were not your best self before.
You didn’t behave the way you wish you would have.
You didn’t do what you should have.
You weren’t what you hoped you’d be.
Whenever we want desperately to prove someone else wrong, what we are really trying to do is quell our own lingering disappointment that we didn’t live up to our own expectations.
So remember this, the next time you’re trying to craft a glow up story that is compelling to others, ask yourself why you are still waiting for their approval.
The answer, almost always, is that you still do not have your own.