I look in the mirror and take note of every single imperfection.

A mental checklist that I’ve spent years and years subconsciously compiling from magazine covers and Instagram photos runs of all the things I want to change.

I cringe at the countless scars and sunspots and stretch marks and wish I could remember a time that they weren’t there. A time when this body was pristine. But I can’t.

I remember skinned knees from falling off my bike when I was little. Growing up, my twin brother and I ruled the city from sunrise to sunset on our bikes.

I remember summers on the boat and hiking to the tops of mountains and hours spent in swimming pools.

I remember the first time I looked in the mirror and realized that my body had shape to it. My body was becoming mine. I felt like a woman.

I am thankful for this stretched and sun-exposed skin…these muscles and bones that house my heart and mind and my soul.

How incredible. How beautiful. How awe-inspiring to think that this small frame carries within it something larger than life.

Honestly, that’s how I feel more often than not; larger than life.

Bigger than my body gives me credit for.

I am distinctly aware that I am so much more than my flesh. I know that there is more for me after this body deteriorates. I am eternal, yet these skin and bones are necessary for now and this body of mine continues to work every day. Blood pushes through my veins, my heart pumps, air rushes in and out of my lungs. I am alive.

Every crack, every mark, every groove…signifies triumph. Reminders of my daily decision to participate in this world. How sad would it be to have lived on this earth for 22 years and still be pristine? These scars are proof of my unwillingness to settle for being an innocent bystander.

This life is beautiful and challenging and it requires us to show up in our entirety, willing to walk through the trenches and get our hands dirty.

This is life and I refuse to be ashamed that my body is proof that I’m living it.