beauty

Over the last few years, I've had internal issues with beauty. My own beauty. I can trace my patterns back to being a runner. I got comfortable - most comfortable, really - leaving my house without makeup and my hair in a ponytail. It started because I wasn't going to get all fancied up just to sweat it off. And as I got more comfortable with my role as a leader, I became more comfortable in my skin. And my skin was without makeup. Without straightening my hair. I became comfortable with me. That is how people see me. That is how I'm recognized. This is who I am.

And then it just carried over. Running late for work one day? Fine. I'll just wrap my last-night-washed hair up into a bun. Repeat for several weeks. And then I spend too much time on coaching stuff one morning and I'm running late again. So no makeup. And the world doesn't crash down. So I repeat. Wake up. Brush teeth. Wash face. Nice moisturizer. Hair in a bun or washed and left down to dry on its own. Get dressed. Get caffeinated. Go out into the world and be awesome.

Repeat for months.

And months.

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And I started to wrap a piece of my identity into being comfortable with who I am. Without embellishment. Without anything but a good moisturizer. I know I am beautiful. I know I am successful. I know I am sweet and kind and funny. I don't need to change my appearance to prove that to anyone.

Several months ago, though, everything changed. When I got bangs on a whim.

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Something about bangs made me feel put together. I couldn't just phone them in. I had to fix them. Granted, all that was necessary was just straightening the bangs themselves, but I found myself doing things like this. Frequently.

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I went back to minimal makeup. Blush and mascara. Tinted Bert's Bees chapstick instead of the clear kind.

But I also started wearing my jewelry again. (Which I hadn't even noticed I'd stopped wearing.) I'd grab a pair of earrings last minute. I'd pull a necklace out of the bowl on the kitchen counter on my way out of the house.

And, before  I knew it, I had made several stops at Sephora and Ulta and - with the help of Miranda and AshleyGee on twitter and text messages - I had a newly-stocked, fully-functional makeup bag. And I am using it. In a way that feels almost reckless.

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(What you can't tell in this picture is that my hair isn't in a ponytail or a sloppy bun. I knew I'd be short on time between the Turkey Trot and Thanksgiving dinner, so I watched a YouTube video on how to make an awesome bun. There are roughly a dozen bobby pins in my hair. With different sections getting puffed and twisted and general insanity. And it was awesome.)

It is strange how this transition has felt almost like taking a step back in my self-confidence. Like I am somehow using  artificial means to make myself feel better. All of the powders and pencils and curlers. Like I could be spending my time doing better things - I could be working on coaching tasks or brainstorming or getting sweaty. But instead, I'm focusing my attention on me. On my outer presentation.

But, you know what? I feel beautiful. With my bangs and my eyeliner and my lipstick. I feel like I can conquer the world. I feel like I have gone from a functional and organized person to a functional and organized and beautiful person. I am learning to take the feelings of guilt and judgement and just let them go. They pop up, I tell them hello, and then I send them on their way without any attachment. Acknowledge and release.

I hope they stop coming.

I'm also kinda surprised that here I am - at 36 - still figuring out how to incorporate beauty into my identity. Just...strange. Goes to show you, we never stop growing.

So what does beauty mean to you? How do you present your own beauty to the world?

(And that isn't rhetorical - I really want to know!)