Beautiful Always


Veronica Elliott

Left picture’s Gracie Elliott in Fall of 2018 and right picutres Gracie Elliott Winter of 2020 .

“Same girl, same name, just a different mindset, and a new game,” author unknown. I’d gone my entire life hearing this quote, but until this year I had never lived it. 

My intention was never to lose weight or change my external appearance. I just strived to become stronger and a better athlete. Along with that came the weight loss and a surge in confidence. 

Despite what you see all over Instagram, it is not an easy journey to get from the “before” picture to the “after” picture. I experienced it first hand, I would know. 

Personally, my “before” was fairly rough, especially mentally. I said I loved myself, but I didn’t treat myself like it. I never allowed myself to take risks, I constantly put myself down. Very seldom did I stand up for myself because, I mean, who would right? I was under the impression that unless I had something to offer the world I was a burden. Let me tell you something, coming from a girl who used to believe all those things, THEY ARE LIES. Let me say it again for the people in the back. These people who make you feel like you aren’t enough and like you can’t achieve your dreams and like you aren’t beautiful, are liars. 

When I first started training with my trainer I was one of the oldest, yet least experienced, one of the biggest, but one of the weakest, and the only girl. Naturally I felt incredibly insecure. The first few weeks were arguably some of the hardest. Not only were they physically trying, but seeing the young ones lift twice the amount that I was lifting and having zero encouragement from the other boys was not exactly inspiring either. I quickly learned to grow up. If I was going to succeed I was going to have to become my own encouragement. 

Looking back on it, I know that was my trainer’s plan all along. He would constantly make me do things he knew I hated just to try and get me to crack. He wanted me to speak up, to punch back. I lived my entire 16 years of existence taking hit after hit and he knew it was time to start dishing them back. 

I had finally decided to rise out of the ashes of who I was and fight for the girl I was becoming.  

The confidence didn’t come on big cargo ships with horns blaring and lights flashing, it was more subtle and gradual. Like the day I finally jumped the dag on mats. Basically, I had been struggling to jump on top of these three mats for a while until one day my trainer looked at me and said, “You’re jumping these mats or I will knock you upside the head with this bat.” Now, of course, he wasn’t being serious but just knowing that he thought I could do it, gave me the feeling that I could really do it. After practice, I immediately texted my mom and told her. She responded right away with a gif of a guy doing a happy dance. I was so proud that I was in tears. I know it might not seem like a big deal to be able to successfully jump three mats instead of two. However, that day I realized something; I often tell myself I can’t do things before I even try, and I am capable of so much more than what I give myself credit for. 

Another day I will never forget is when my trainer asked me about playing softball in college. Originally, I had given up on that dream a long time ago because too many coaches told me I would never make it- although my parents supported me the whole way through. So when he looked me dead in the eye and told me that he firmly believed I could make it anywhere I wanted, I was utterly bewildered. No coach previous to this moment had ever full-heartedly believed that I have what it takes to make it. This pivotal moment caused me to see myself in a new light. I was no longer “hoping” that I could make it, I was confident that I could.

Aside from my trainer, other people started to take notice of my improvements. I started getting compliments like “girl, you look amazing now”, or “you’re so beautiful now”. Although most people would be flattered by these kind words, I took a bit of offense to them. The majority of them only pertain to the “after” picture, I’m “amazing” now because I lost weight or “beautiful” now because I dyed my hair. I hate to break it to ya, but I am just as amazing and just as beautiful now, as I was “before”. 

Also, news flash, I’m the same girl. I’m that same girl who never stood up for herself because she didn’t think she was worth it. The same girl who struggled to see herself as beautiful because of the ridiculous standards that society has beaten into our brains. Just because I dropped a couple pounds and gained some confidence that does not mean I am going to forget her. The “before” me is what makes my story so beautiful, the fact that I did second guess whether or not God wanted me here. The fact that I didn’t think I would make it to college for softball, that’s the beauty. 

These past few months have been a whirlwind. I never could have imagined that this trainer and these boys would ever mean so much to me.  Although it was difficult for me to get accustomed to the way male teenagers think, I am so thankful that I have my brothers to make me laugh when I have a rough day. Not to mention my amazing family who was here supporting me the entire time, cheering me up with a dance party when I came home in tears. I will forever be grateful for God and how he took this unlikely situation and created an incredible story. 

I leave you with this, I know that it is easy to become consumed with the idea of this “after” picture, but I encourage you to take a look at the “before”. Remember to be patient with yourself, allow yourself the time you need to rest. Be kind and remember to be forgiving if you don’t reach your goals right away. You don’t owe the world anything, God made you for a reason and if he woke you up this morning you still have a purpose. But most of all, please know that you have already achieved your maximum level of beauty, and nothing you do or alter can change that. Your beauty and handsomeness does not kick in as soon as puberty hits and it does not expire when you are 30, you are beautiful, always.