I did forget, however, that "everyone" included me. The first time anyone who wasn't related to me told me that I was pretty was my boyfriend, who two years later married me. I don't know that I've ever considered myself ugly, but I've certainly never considered myself pretty, beautiful, lovely, or any of the other words that most people use to describe someone who has perfect features.
Over the years, I've had my share of being picked on and, dare I say it, being bullied. I always thought my looks were as much to blame for that as my personality. Now that I am older and wiser, I know that how others see me depends partly on how I see myself. If I think I am not worth anyone's time, no one else will think I am, either. If I am confident enough to look at people in the eye and smile at them, knowing that God loves and accepts me just the way I look, other people will too.
I think what finally changed my mind about how I perceive myself was when a friend told me several months ago that I matter, my personality is a wonderful thing about me, and what I have to say is important. For some horrible reason (probably all the stress I had been under lately), what I heard was that based on my personality, I didn't add up to much of a person. How I could confuse those two things is still beyond me. But because of my misunderstanding, I did some soul-searching and decided that I really was worth something. Thanks to the past 8 years of my husband telling me how wonderful I am, all I could think of was, I am just as much of a worth-while person with my specific personality as you are with yours (which was the message). You may not prefer my quiet, sensitive nature (which wasn't the message, btw), but that in no way means quiet, sensitive people are less of people than confident, go get 'em people. I didn't really know how to embrace my belief--I had no succinct words to express my feelings.
Then I ran across this quote: "Being called ugly and fat and disgusting to look at from the time I could barely understand what the words meant has scarred me so deep inside that I have learned to hunt, stalk, claim, own and defend my own loveliness." And while I was never actually called ugly (and certainly not fat, although I was called skinny in the same disgusted tone of voice one would use to call someone fat), that last line resonated with me. I need to claim, own and defend my own loveliness. No one else will do it for me, although I have to say my sweet husband certainly puts forth a valiant effort and is training my little boy to offer up "Mommy, you are pretty" at regular intervals. God gave me my own loveliness, which is different than anyone else's loveliness, and I need to embrace what God has given me and hope that my inner loveliness shines through, transforming my outer to loveliness.