I use the phrase "Ugly duckling" to describe how I felt when trying to pursue a relationship during my teen and early adult years. I recall the people in school labeling me as unattractive because I didn't look like what society deemed as beautiful.
It took daily self-reflection to understand how being myself and being more confident allowed me to attract people who were good for me.
Most guys I've dated were either caught in illegal situations or had no situations (jobless). I would say I had standards but I never adhered to them. The interesting part was that men who were not good for me were good to me.
We would go out on dates and have conversations on topics other than your average sex, financial and drug talks. I felt I was treated with respect and everything was delivered to me "straightforward."
In contrast, the one I fell madly in love with was educated, employed but was the one who used me as a pawn in order to rekindle his seven-year relationship. (However, I"m saving that narrative for another day.)
What did this relationship tell me? Sometimes what you think you want is not what you need. When I thought I was "the ugly duckling," I attracted negative people. But when I began to believe that my beauty is not only skin deep and I had more to offer, I received more positive interactions with people.
I tend to march to the beat of my own drum and always have. I'd like to believe that I'm a bit of a rebel. I make my own decisions based on my thoughts, which usually means I break certain societal rules. I remember my junior year in college, my friends and I had a group discussion about why I couldn't be in a relationship. A guy interjected and stated "You are unapproachable." So I guess that meant because I didn't go to basketball and football games and flaunt in guys faces, I was unapproachable.
Even when I had low self-esteem, I knew how to still value my body and image. I knew people who literally knew nothing about sports, who become sports managers of a team so they could say they were dating an athlete. That was when I constantly compared myself to other women and became even more bashful and abrasive in my interactions with men.
As far as attraction, I've had this argument with several male counterparts. When you meet a person, you don't know their personality until you get to know them. A person's personality is more important than their appearance, but it is human nature to automatically make contact with the things that you consider attractive about a person.
Therefore, the art of being the "ugly duckling" is being beautiful inside out. Once I started working on self-acceptance and loving myself, my confidence made me become more beautiful overall.