Have you ever scrolled through your own profiles for an extended amount of time just to see yourself as a stranger would? (Oh yeah…me neither…) Actually I find myself in this position way more often than I would like to admit—taking note of all the things I like and don’t like about the person in those pictures.

I will start by saying I don’t hate my body, but the more I sit around and pick apart those pictures, the more I convince myself that my body—and therefore myself—is somehow not “right.”

I have realized that I spend so much time analyzing my body from its outer appearance that I forget about all the things it has accomplished. My legs have carried me through many hard, painful miles of life. They have journeyed through treacherous woods carrying heavy loads and run impressive races. My hands have written papers, letters, and put together words that have made a difference. My skin has freckles, marks, and even a few scars that I wear as memories of the things I have seen. If only you could see those things from the photos.

The truth is we only have one body. We will not have the opportunity to upgrade to the newest model. It is like an annoying sibling that will always be there no matter how many times you try and trade with someone else. Knowing that, it is my job to care for it and defend it (if even from myself).

Friend, Not Foe

Our goal should be to treat our bodies like we would a good friend—by appreciating all the things they do for us and not just how cool they makes us look in pictures. We need to give them the best food (because that’s what friends are for) and take them on the most awesome adventures. Friendships do not thrive with only casual, apathetic attention; in the same way, our bodies cannot thrive with lazy treatment of convenient food and minimal exercise.

Celebrate the Small Things

I went climbing for the first time on actual rocks recently. Needless to say, it was not impressive. I hardly got off the ground, but there was one hold in particular that I was having trouble with. I got extremely discouraged and could feel the bigger doubts creeping in telling me that I would never be good enough for that hold—or even this sport. Then I touched it. I will not even go as far to say I grabbed it, but I have a small scrape on my finger to prove I made it. Rather than leaving that day thinking about the amount of wall I definitely did not scale, I chose to celebrate the little scratch on my hand as a reminder of the power I do have, however small it may be, and the hope that I will be back to defeat that route.

We have to give ourselves credit for what we do achieve! As 20-somethings, we too often weigh ourselves on the scale of what life should be right now. What size pants you should be fitting in. How fast you should have run that mile. What job you should have. But we cannot reach those lofty goals until we learn to celebrate the smaller things—like reaching the one hold at the bottom of a big wall.

It is time we stop appreciating our body only for its physical appearance and treat it with the respect it deserves. Remember the things it has accomplished. Let’s stop putting the weight of our insecurities on our outward selves. We must stop measuring ourselves only by what the mirror or the pictures say about us. Our bodies, no matter what they look like, have and will accomplish great things.