Comments 32

Beauty In Vulnerability

I woke up to this song this morning, in that lingering space between conscious and asleep, where one foot was still in whatever I was dreaming about, and the other foot was itching to get into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. You know that place? Where, if somebody were to ask you a life or death question that needed an immediate answer, you would probably mumble “Yellow”, or “Seventeen”, or “My purse is in the oven.”, and roll in the opposite direction.

I woke up to this song slowly.

It’s funny how some people hear the music, while others only hear the words.

I always hear words, and two or three lines into the song I realized I haven’t always been a beautiful girl.

Actually, there was a long period of time where I knew what the word beautiful meant, and I could only identify it in other girls. I saw lengthy legs, and belly buttons, and long wavy hair, and pearly white picket fence teeth, and wondered why I had those things in my possession, but they simply didn’t translate the same. I felt like I was born to be an artist, but I didn’t know how to use my paintbrush.

I didn’t wear them the same way.

They wore me.


When I was fifteen, I asked my mother why all of the other girls had boyfriends, and nobody had asked me out yet. I defined my self worth by how many other girls were holding the hands of boys who would only break their hearts. In high school, I had plenty of friends, and a notable social repertoire, but nobody knew that I secretly snuck into the library at lunch to bury myself in Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, and Ayn Rand.

When lunch was over, I returned to what I thought was mediocrity.

I only allowed myself to be that girl in between the lines, because when I was fifteen, those things weren’t beautiful to everybody. Instead, I tried to learn how to apply make up (and failed). I tried to understand what boys my age wanted (and failed). I tried to dress myself fashionably (and MY GOD, I failed).

Soon, I forgot what it was to even want to be beautiful. I figured it was something I was never meant to be, the same way I forgot that I wanted to be a ballerina when I was little, but never got around to taking ballet lessons. I also wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. Still trying to figure out a way to make that happen.

I just never got around to being beautiful.

Now, I am 25, and I feel beautiful. It has nothing to do with my clothes, or my friends, or my build. It actually has nothing to do with the way I look at all. It’s the comfort I take in my vulnerable moments, whether that means sharing a new part of myself with somebody, or facing the day bold and bare faced. Vulnerability is something I had to grow into, along with my legs, but once I learned how to appreciate both, I walked taller. Sometimes, I catch myself in vulnerable moments that long ago, I would have tried to hide. The minute you learn to appreciate vulnerability, you learn things about yourself that you never would have known.

It’s admitting to a stranger that after eight months, New York City doesn’t always feel like home.

It’s dropping my things, or losing my phone in a bar, or spilling coffee on my crotch, all of which happen regularly.

It’s not being afraid to say crotch on a public blog.


It’s getting overly (and embarrassingly) excited when somebody else appreciates E.E. Cummings the way that I do.

It’s an incandescent feeling, when you realize you’re perfectly content skipping the Sunday social scene because you’re just getting out of the shower at 3pm, making yourself a cup of tea, and sitting on the brownstone steps of your Brooklyn apartment with your journal.

It’s scrunched up noses, messy hair, no make up, and a pair of jeans I’ve had since I was 19 that I don’t have the heart to throw away, because some things, and people, and jeans, you’re just meant to hold on to.


It’s that sweater from the men’s section of H&M, and combat boots with worn out toes.

I guess deep down, it’s wanting to prove to some fifteen-year-old girl, that blue converse sneakers will always be an acceptable alternative to stilettos, writing will always be beautiful, and that reading will always be cool.

And also, I wouldn’t mind proving to my parents that “Ninja Turtle” would look amazing on my resume.

 photo signiture.jpg


  1. Very nice post. I followed you here from the Scintilla Project RSS feed. I was just about to close my iPad when your post showed up in my feed reader. I’m glad I stayed behind to read it. I’m glad you’ve found your beauty. It shows.

    • SO happy you stayed behind, as well! Thank you for your lovely words. I feel a little guilty, I haven’t gotten around to writing a single Scintilla prompt. I’ll get there though! xo

  2. I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty too, recently, and the way it’s changed for me. Feeling beautiful used to mean having boys like to look at me, having strangers compliment me on my hair/outfit/some other arbitrary thing, but now it’s a settling into my skin kind of feeling. It’s a quieter kind of beauty; a no make up, jeans and big sweater (which you do look so beautiful in) not dependent on anyone else’s opinion kind of beauty. I think a lot of it has to do with a willingness to be vulnerable now too. I really loved this post 🙂

    • So happy you were able to relate! It was a really nice way to wake up. First of all, the song is BEAUTIFUL in itself, but thinking about the way I now perceive beauty was a really nice way to start the day. It’s wonderful when you realize that there are so many beautiful things in this world, and that you are one of them!

  3. Of late, I have begun to take interest in blogs- something I had not been doing since months. 🙂 Your piece on things beautiful made my day…truly good it was. Looking forward to reading more and checking out the past ones too! 😀

  4. I’m sitting here 9 minutes before my high school starts… and WOW. Thank you for flipping my monday in a beautiful way 🙂

  5. Aunt Gerry says

    Carley, you’ve always been beautiful to me, even when you were a funny little girl.

  6. In my maddened rush to do everything this morning and still have coffee I had a very well known crotch experience!!! Whic is great because I now have to walk around the uni campus all day with brown coffee stains on my jeans… I immediately thought of this blog having read it yesterday and it made me smile – your beautiful writing will hopefully touch many souls!

    • Happens ALL the time to me! I’m soooo clumsy. I’ve always thought it was my downfall, but I’m starting to embrace it haha! It makes for great stories. Happy this was able to make you smile. Cheers!

  7. Beautifully written post! I would also agree and have been trying for years to convince my parents about the Ninja Turtles, haha. Glad to know I’m not the only one that finds them to be awesome 🙂 I also adore E.E. Cummings!

    But back to the main point of the post, I agree completely. For the longest time my self-worth was defined by superficial things and men. Growing up I never felt comfortable in my skin nor with my skin tone. I only felt beautiful if I was with someone because then that meant I was pretty enough to be someone’s girlfriend – right? The older I got, the more experiences I’ve had, I’ve realized that none of this matters. Only I define my self-worth and there are so many beautiful things to be grateful for in the world and even about myself. The messy hair days? At least I have a head of hair. It’s the little things like that I think we sometimes take for granted because we’re so caught up in trying to feel beautiful when beauty is all around us and in front us when we look in the mirror.

    Great post!

  8. Well you are in New York, so I think that makes you closer to achieving your Ninja Turtle dreams than most 🙂 Love this post.

  9. I’ve often thought about that around-15 period and how those years of bushy hair and lacking social scene have helped me to be able to take joy in the things that are real in life and to see the beauty in people even when it’s buried. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, and by they way, I find it impressive that you’ve managed to keep a pair of jeans for six years. Mine always seem to wear out in all the wrong places 😉

  10. Mom says

    Hi Honey,
    Loved it . Such a telling article. Love the journal It’s nice to see you with it .
    The article has a thread that runs through all of us even the girls that were leggy in the 8th grade . Miss you but… you look so happy and healthy and pretty

  11. Mom says

    hahaha…. I guess this is as close as I will get to having tea with ya

  12. beautiful post from a very beautiful person. i love that you are so comfortable with being or acknowledging vulnerability .. its quite a difficult lesson to learn for a lot of people 🙂

  13. This is so like me. I wrote a blog post like this once. On one of my twelve blogs I’ve had in my lifetime. I was that girl, too. Who sat in the library at lunch. Or in my art classroom painting. I loved being that girl. I didn’t like the people in my school who picked on me, talked down to me, or thought they were better than me. And you’re beautiful too. We all are.

    • So glad you were able to connect to this, Sarah! I was very fortunate to have not run into many issues with bullying in my lifetime, my friends were all really great, they just didn’t appreciate art or literature the way I did, and most of the time I felt like I was being something that I wasn’t. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  14. I was that girl in the library at lunch. Or in the art room painting. I didn’t like the people at my high school. They were mean and they thought they were all better than me. But I feel you and I obviously became stronger because of it. We are, clearly, beautiful people. 🙂

  15. Thank you for such a brave, transparent, and graceful post. I can totally relate to a lot of what you said. Keep on writing, keep on living life transparently and heroically. I’m sure you impact more people than you know with your honest, beautiful blog posts.

  16. Dad says

    You have been beautiful since the day you entered this word (although i may be just a “little” bit partial).

  17. sonyamonica says

    This is a super awesome post and very relatable (why is WP telling me this is not a word) lol? Anyway, I was this girl, most definitely! I remember wanting to drop out of high school, get my GED and start college, because it always seemed that I couldn’t relate to: the boys, the gossip, the popularity, etc. I was involved in everything too and many people “knew” me, but I was completely misunderstood. When I finally stopped caring what others thought, I felt I really got to know the true me . . . and it was such a wonderful thing. To discover the true meaning of “beauty” we have to truly understand ourselves and be comfortable with what we have.

    And you know where it started for me?

    One day I woke up and I told myself (in the mirror), name one thing you love. For me, it was my hair . . . never dyed it, never damaged it with crazy beauty products . . . it was natural, thick and for me, it felt to be the most original and genuine aspect of me (at the time). I would later discover that falling in love with my hair, led me to falling in love with all aspects. Self-confidence is what got me noticed, and this was after I decided to careless for it. Ironic how everything works. Loved loved this post!


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