I ran into an old friend that I have known since I was a kid in high school. She looked just like she did then, is a personal trainer, and is a successful business owner. Her outward appearance was as perfect as perfect could be. The first thing she said to me was, “Oh my God, Pam, Is that you?” The criticism was evident in her voice. “My God, I cannot believe how much you have changed. Look at you. You look nothing like you were. You were always so beautiful.”
The smile faded from my face, and I suddenly felt ashamed. I am no longer the beauty pageant winner that people remember. I am not the model that used to strut my stuff in swimwear for the cameras. I am not as successful in my career as I planned to be.
Though, I did graduate both high school and college with honors, I chose to live my life rather than live for my career. I chose to be the best mother that I could be by staying home with my children. I chose to spend hours upon hours of the best years of my life, so far, in therapy sessions with my child. I battled stage one cancer and won. I battle hypothyroidism every single day, and although I watch my diet closely and work out on a daily basis, I am still overweight. I struggle with severe arthritis, and though it is tough to get up out of bed in the mornings, I push myself with each step.
And, while listening to her talk about her financial success, I could see the sadness in her eyes. I realized she had money, but I have so much more. When she asked why all I talked about was my family, I replied. “My family is my life. They are what I live for, and their happiness brings me joy. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I may not be who you remember, but I am healthy. I am happy, and I am loved.” The more I spoke, the more I could feel the smile spread across my face. And, the more I spoke, the more I saw her smile fade.
We cannot measure one another by financial wealth. That is not what we will be remembered for. For most of us, our outward beauty fades, but if we are loved, our inward beauty can be immeasurable. We will never be remembered for the money we had. The lives we touch and the memories we imprint on our friends and families are the legacy we all leave behind.