WOMEN
10/02/2014 12:43 pm ET Updated Oct 02, 2014

It Took Her A Long Time To Realize She Didn't Have To Change To Be Beautiful

In the summer of 2006, Micaela Blei resolved to "make herself beautiful." After a period of trial and error, she finally figured out how. Watch her story above for a reminder that while beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, our most important beholders are ourselves.

Upworthy provides the transcript:

Micaela Blei: It's summer of 2006 and I'm a third grade teacher who feels like stuck. I also happen to feel like I'm the ugliest one of my friends. I've been spoken to about it before but haven't been convinced. And I haven't met anyone and I feel like the thing I have is summer vacations so I should use it to go somewhere and have an adventure and make myself beautiful I guess. So I find out teachers who don't have a lot of money but I find out about these volunteer work adventures that you can go on where all you need to do is pay airfare and then you volunteer somewhere. And I go online and I look and I'm choosing between these two trips. The first one is to volunteer at an arts festival in Calabria. The second one is to be a tour guide in a troll village in Iceland.

And I really wish I could tell you that this is about to be a story about a troll village in Iceland. It is not. I figured between the two of them. The one that's going to really make me beautiful is Calabria, like I can see it. I'm making a mosaic and there's an artist. He's Italian and he gives me pasta. I don't know. I'm not too specific about it but we probably kiss and I'm tanned in my fantasy which I'm not in my reality. And so this is what's going to happen. And I go and right away it starts to happen the way I thought. I mean, he's not a painter. He's not making mosaics. He's a sculptor. His name is Milan and he's not Italian. He's French but he has long hair but not in a creepy way. And he almost never wears a shirt and he's one of the volunteers also and I took AP French for three years. So right away there was a connection.

And the first night we're all supposed to be serving and there's other volunteer, Jordina, she's from Spain. She looks like she's made out of olive oil and sex. Like the girl is just... and she's taken the t-shirt that we've all gotten and she's cut it down and she's cut it up. She's basically got a strip of fabric on her. And Milan looks at me and says, "You know, I can fix your shirt for you" and I'm like, "Okay." And so he cuts my shirt while it's on me and I do not look like olive oil and sex, you guys. I look like cookie dough. That's... and I laughed but then I changed as soon as possible. But it's okay because the next day it's going to be kids day, when all the kids are going to do paintings and that's what I can do. That's my jam. So we have a big canvas and right away I meet this kid, Bruno, he's Italian. I don't speak Italian, that's okay. We're drawing cats. We're cracking up. He's eight. We really connect also and Milan comes up to me later and says, "You know, you're very good with children." And I'm like, "Thank you." And he says, "You know, when I get back to France I want to teach autistic children sculpture." And I'm like, "God damn it" as though it's not enough that he never wears a shirt.

And I say, "That's so interesting. Have you read the book ‘A Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime’?" And he says, "No, but in my bag right now is a book called ‘The Strange Happening of the Dog at Midnight.” And I'm like, "His English is not very good." And he's like, "It's in French but if you want you can borrow it and practice your French.” And I'm thinking this is a very good idea because when we have kids I want them to speak English and French. And I want to be able to speak French to them so this is practical. And it keeps going and it keeps going. And finally the last night we're sitting and we're talking and he's looking at my mouth and no guy has ever looked at my mouth before. But my friends have told me that when a guy... this is information for all of you if you want it... when a guy looks at your mouth, it means he wants to kiss you. And so I'm like, "Okay, this is... like my patience is paying off" and I lean in and he says, "I care about you so much." And I'm like, "Me too." And he says... I keep leaning in. And he says, "I just wish you were more attractive."

I'm just going to let you sit with that [SP] for a second. That's how I find out that this whole time he has actually been sleeping with Jordina, the olive oil girl. And Italy didn't make me beautiful. And on my way home on the train, I get robbed. I lose everything on my way back to New York including my camera and I think two things. The first one is... I'm glad I lost my camera. I actually don't want to see the pictures of what I looked like on this trip. And the second thing I think is, if I had gone to the troll village, I would have been the prettiest troll there. And that is true.

So I decide when I get home, Italy didn't make me beautiful. I'm going to make myself beautiful which is why four days later I'm sitting in the chair at the plastic surgeon's office. I'm going to get my nose fixed and the plastic surgeon says to me... I tell him this. The plastic surgeon says to me, "Oh, your nose is not the problem." And I'm like, "Oh, he's going to give me some bullshit about how my self confidence is the problem, right?" He says, "Your chin is the problem. If you just got a chin augmentation, which are very inexpensive relative to a nose job, you would really balance out your face." And I go home and I look at these photographs of myself and I'm like, he's right and so is Milan.

And I make the appointment and that's when I get a package in the mail. And it's from one of the other volunteers, one of the Americans. And it's a CD of photographs. And the letter says, "I heard you lost all your shit. I'm so sorry. Here's all the pictures that I took on the trip." And actually, this is before selfies, right? So you're not actually in the pictures that you take but I'm in all these pictures. And I'm scrolling through and I'm right. And they're right. And he's right. Ugly, ugly, ugly. And then I get to one picture and it's the picture from kids day. And I'm sitting with Bruno, that eight-year-old. And I got paint on my face and I'm cracking up and I'm in the place I feel totally comfortable. And I look radiant and I look beautiful. Thank you.

H/T Upworthy

UPDATE: A prior version of this article included a lengthier description of the featured video. It has been replaced with a transcript to reflect the full message of the story.

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