My roots are showing and so are my freckles. My accessories are either non-existent and/or not matching. My nails are the opposite of “manicured” and my toes…well, let’s not even go there.
Just a few months ago, I would not be caught dead looking like this. If I showed up to work with my bare face showing, without a layer of foundation on it, I would get dirty or sympathetic looks. “Are you feeling alright?” People would ask. If you show up to work in the cosmetic industry looking less than picture perfect, something just MUST be wrong. God forbid you come in without perfectly lined, bright and bold lips and eyes.
“You look tired.” Others may say. Fuck. I always hated that one. So, my face- as it is- naturally looks tired? I’m twenty-five years old, how “tired” can I look? But I was jaded and believed the stigma. I believed it all. I wore the need for perfection like a mask.
The world where I worked, and flourished, was built and is sustained on driving the need to achieve physical perfection. Just pick up any magazine or turn on the television. See those actresses and models? They are promoting the products I was responsible for selling and training hundreds of others to sell, since I began my career in the industry as a teenager. “Don’t they look perfect? Well you can too!” we said over and over so many times, I believed it. If I just do one more touch up in the mirror, one more layer of foundation, amp up the color on my cheeks…I, too, could look like the models, right?
I would get up hours before work to make sure every square inch looked perfect before going out the door and into one of my stores to train, manage and sell with them. I had to set an example. And I did, but my gosh, was it a lot of work! Nails, check. Hair, check. A+ outfit (always all black), check! Shoes (high-high heels), check, check, check! A leader in this industry does NOT show up half-assed, and I was not going to be the first. I was attempting perfection every day. Until now. Oh, if my old self could see me now. She would pout her lips sympathetically and say “time for a makeover, honey. This. Isn’t. Working.” Little did I know at the time, I was the one who was “not working.”
Leaving this faslely perfect and infectious world to go see the real world, has taught me so many lessons already, namely about myself. The world wants to accept you for who you really are, imperfections and all. People want to know the real, raw, truthful you, and if you can be brave enough to show it, your entire life will change- in the best way. The connections become deeper, the world around you looks brighter and the world doesn’t seem so strange anymore.
Once I felt brave enough to admit what I really wanted (to travel, to write, to wander) and to act on it, I left my job, got rid of everything and booked a one-way ticket across the world. I couldn’t fit all the cosmetics I wanted to bring. I couldn’t bring my beautiful handbags or high heels. I had to box up my Chanel cross-body bag and my designer jewelry. It sits in my childhood bedroom in the closet, doing what it has always done: nothing. When preparing to leave, I had to pack the essentials- only what could fit in my backpack. Down to absolute basics. What did I really need to get by? As it turns out, not much.
When I made the decision to go, I began the process of revealing my truth. I am knee deep in this process now, and I will be honest, it is hard. It’s challenging- everyday. Being alone, bared down and feeling vulnerable is not easy. It is hard work; but the most meaningful work I have ever done, nonetheless. Everyday I get closer to feeling at peace with myself and the world around me.
I have stopped giving a damn how I look most of the time. The false lashes I packed (Yes, I snuck them in my backpack last minute) rarely come out of the box, unless there is a special occasion, and my skin is no longer masked to perfection. I have deconstructed the image of perfection I always sought after, and have started to re-image myself in another way- a way that doesn’t require any altering at all. I am just me. I wake up and get out the door to go explore whatever city I am in within thirty minutes. THIRTY MINUTES! Unheard of. How much time I am saving myself for other (much more important) things is truly amazing, in and of itself.
My days have a sole purpose to see and explore the world around me, in it’s entirety. The only thing I require of myself each day is that I show up. I must show up to my own life and be seen- authentically. This was so daunting at first. “What if they don’t like me?” fear whispers in my head, and I choose to ignore the thought. It doesn’t matter who likes me or doesn’t like me or thinks I’m pretty or unpretty. I am learning to like me better, and that’s what counts, because the more you like yourself, the better you are to the rest of the world. Self-acceptance, from what I have experienced so far, leads to outward kindness and acceptance of others. Once I accepted that I could not- and will not ever- be perfect, I realized and accepted that the rest of the world isn’t either. People are flawed. The entire world…is deeply flawed, and that’s what makes it interesting.
We are all carrying around flaws and insecurities we have tried to hide or cover up at some point- either internally or externally. The magic lies in accepting the “ugly” so you can find your true “pretty.”
Headed out the door with no makeup on! (And no, thank you, I am not tired. I am ALIVE and WELL.)