There’s a major difference between a bad skin day and a bad hair day. On bad hair days, you can throw on a hat or reach for your dry shampoo. Bad hair days can turn into good hair days with a shower or a few minutes with a straightener. I would love to trade in one of my bad skin days for a bad hair day.
Bad skin days are different. There’s nothing like that inner pang of self-doubt and frustration when you wake up, look in the mirror, and literally sigh. Out loud.
Makeup will cover it for a day. Facemasks can heal it in a week. But what do you use to heal the real damage? How do you gain back the self-confidence that’s been declining right under your nose?
Often we don’t realize how much our inner dialogue has changed over the years. From the first time you felt self-conscious at age 10 or so, there’s been an inner critic growing in your head, so slowly that you assumed it was always there. Have you ever seen that Kermit the frog meme with his dark side saying terrible things? The reason it’s so funny to us is because it’s so true.
Take a step back. Have you ever really stopped and listened to what you say to yourself? You may hear a quiet loop in your head, constantly whispering and reaffirming your innermost doubts and fears. For some of us, our critic says we’re fat or ugly, and for others it could be that we’re unlovable and don’t deserve something.
I’m going to take a quick detour to talk about something that has nothing to do with health and beauty, but you’ll see the connection in a minute.
Fun fact about me: I sing. Well, that is to say I sang. I still sing in cars and showers and occasionally with my friends, but I don’t sing on stages. Not anymore. From the time I was 8, I was in every choir, school musical, and ensemble I could find. I took three lessons a week and spent hours practicing. This was my path. I was good at it. It was what I loved. Then one day it all stopped because I didn’t get into my dream school’s voice program up north. I was devastated. I gave up on what I had worked on for so long because three strangers in a classroom said no. I was embarrassed, and angry, and I took it personally.
Here’s the thing about your voice: it’s personal. You quite literally grew your own vocal chords, and despite the amount of training, you can only do what it will let you.
Your voice is like your appearance (Ha! There’s the connection!). Here’s why. You didn’t pick out your body–its color, shape, features, anything. It’s the one you were dealt and it’s out of your control. And that makes it difficult to look around at your friends and your phone, constantly reminded of what you want but can’t have.
Today almost all of us are “do-er’s.” And if you’re a recovering perfectionist like me, you’re an “over-do-er.” When the going gets tough we put our heads down and study harder, practice more, run farther, and get the job done. The crazy thing is that it usually works!
But you know a goal I haven’t met yet? Clear skin. You know how long I’ve been working on that goal? Since middle school. I wish I could show up at my skin’s doorstep with flowers and an apology pizza and we would finally get along. In fact, I’ve set up a whole website (hint: you’re on it right now) about beauty tricks so that maybe – even if it’s just for 5 minutes – I can feel pretty. But why? Why can’t we look away from the little flaws and instead realize that we’re actually kind of amazing.
I’m pretty. Yep. You heard me. I’m allowed to say that because everyone is really, really pretty. Sadly, everyone doesn’t feel like it – at least not every day.
When we say “I would feel better if I had blank,” or “I will be so much happier when blank happens,” we are giving ourselves a condition to meet. So what happens when we can’t lose those five pounds or we’re still single or we didn’t get that job? We tell ourselves that we failed to meet the condition, and therefore we don’t deserve to be happy. Our inner critic stands up and shouts, “I told you so!” That’s living life in the conditional. Happiness should never be conditional.
Most things in life are out of our control, but we do have the power to change our mindset. Beauty is not skin-deep. I’m here to tell you that you’re beautiful. I’m not saying this because you fill in your eyebrows every day or because you hit the gym 5 days a week. I’m saying this because you deserve to feel good about yourself as much as you deserve to live and breathe. You didn’t do anything to deserve being on this earth, and similarly, you don’t have to prove anything to feel happy and confident.
If you want to shut up your inner critic and start loving yourself, the first step is to stop making pre-reqs for your happiness. Life is too short to get everything right, and life isn’t fair enough to get everything we want. Let’s just do this messy, beautiful thing anyways. Put down the concealer, step off the dang scale, and get out there. Live it to the fullest, and love yourself (and your appearance) more with each step, breath, and makeup sample you take.