When I got up at four a.m. to get ready and drive to the LuckyFabb conference (if you want to imagine yourself in my scenario, replace the conference with any other event you’ve been to), I felt pretty good, although very tired. I had my nice outfit all picked out even grabbing some new shoes which I bought last summer and had not yet broken in. I straightened then curled my hair, hoping for a nice wave. I covered up my under eye circles, I sprayed a lovely perfume and set out to have an adventure.
What I didn’t expect within five minutes of entering the SLS Hotel for this event was that my self-esteem would drop into my shoes and I’d be fretting every two minutes about how I looked. The median age was about twenty three, maybe twenty four. Collectively, these girls were not only young but pretty and definitely well dressed in what I mentioned in the previous post, was tiny skirts and even smaller shorts, the highest heels, long smooth hair, and of course they had youth on their side. I saw the tanned skin of girls who are not yet old enough to worry about sun spots and wrinkles.
Out of all the things I expected at this conference, feeling bad about myself was not one of them. I began to fret over my hair which had turned into a frizz ball. I worried if my concealer was gathering in the fine lines around my eyes, were my skinny jeans too skinny? Was I one of the oldest people in the room? Was anyone looking at me, wondering why I was there? Was my cute Hive & Honey sweater which was so soft and pretty at home, looking totally schlumpy?
I went to the bathroom to pull my hair back and coat my eyes with another round of eyeliner. Impossibly tall and skinny girls gave me the once over and shrunk me with a withering glance. I wanted to go home.
I carried the feeling of inadequacy with me for the rest of the day. At this age- old enough to have teenagers and be married for seventeen years and to have moved around from the east coast to the west- I should know that its what’s on the inside that counts, that’s what matters. But in a place that was so focused on looks, in a society that is focused on outward beauty, I really struggled. I do struggle. I think what makes me a good writer, at least an observant one, is that I can sit back and study other people. I am an introvert with no desire to be the center of attention, I much rather watch. So lacking the desire and ability to introduce myself and network, I took a back seat and sat quietly, my self esteem issues swirling in my mind.
Have you seen the show GIRLS? Lena Dunham is the mastermind behind this successful HBO show. While I find her to be cute, she’s not a Victoria’s Secret model type, she’s as much said so publicly. Sometimes she is dressed in the most unflattering clothes on the show and even more often than that, she’s either naked or nearly so. At first I was shocked because, she’s not perfect. She’s normal! Totally normal. Like a person you’d see at Target!
I grew appreciative of Lena for…things you can’t see on the outside. She’s whip smart. She created a TV show, writes it, acts in it and directs it. She has no shame, I mean you probably couldn’t pay me enough to walk around naked in my house let alone on television but she does and she keeps it real. Lena is a great example of REALITY. Her body is normal, she sets no impossible standard of beauty for every other woman to measure herself against. And you know what I love most? She’s smart and funny. I wish we could wear those attributes on the outside.
So it was thoughts of Lena Dunham that danced in my brain as I looked at all of these skinny lovely young women in their gorgeous clothes and flowing hair. It was thoughts of my own accomplishments and goals that I had to laser in on to keep from melting into tears over not being “perfect” or looking like a fashion model. Sometimes when I get really down, I have to write out- old school with a pen and notebook- what I am grateful for, even the most basic, so I can remain grateful and positive not jealous or bitter. I have to call a friend and laugh and fill myself with appreciation instead of dissatisfaction.
When you start feeling “less than” how do you get over it? Do you remind yourself of everything you have to be grateful for? Do you list your accomplishments, both big and small, to remind yourself that you are something special? Do you find strength in your friends and family?