Every once in a while I have an epiphany of self-knowledge. Something clicks that allows me to learn more about myself and my personality.
And sometimes, I don’t like what I see.
I think we all like to live in a constant state of denial. We can always pick out the bad qualities in others, but when asked about our own faults, it’s not uncommon to draw a blank. Most people can come up with non-committal answers like “I work too hard” or “I’m too outspoken”. In reality, we’re all horrible people somehow, we’re just well trained in ignoring our own horrible-ness.
Last week, a cruel mix of back-to-school stress, hormones, and unseasonably humid weather presented itself as an unsightly spot on my left cheek. I basically had a mental breakdown over it.
It was all I could see, every time I passed any sort of reflective surface. Doing my make-up took twice as long, as I tried to make the blemish look as invisible as possible. I fussed over it endlessly. Having clear skin is apparently very, very important to me.
That bothers me.
I’m a talented student with far better to offer the world than clear skin and shiny hair, yet one blemish made me feel like I was absolutely useless at everything. I put so much importance into my personal appearance, that I let it completely eclipse everything else in my life that’s going perfectly well. I should know better than to stare at my reflection, loathing a tiny spot that I had no control over. I obsessively applied spot treatments and vigorously washed my face until finally it began to fade.
And as it faded, I felt a lot better about myself.
That bothers me.
I like to think I’m a pretty confident person. I wear what I want, listen to what I want, talk to who I want and I honestly don’t care about the opinions others may have of me. Being obsessive over a tiny imperfection reflects more of the standards I impose on myself than worries of the expectations of others. But what good are these standards when they only end up making me unhappy?
Does it really make sense to spend hours agonizing over a spot that most people will barely notice? Does it make sense to allow it to change my mood and my attitude? I was a little too obsessed over myself last week and that’s something that I definitely don’t like in my personality.
Everyone has a little bit of narcissism in them, and really, it’s not a bad thing. It’s okay to praise yourself when you look good or have accomplished something great. I’d even say that it’s necessary to have that self-confidence and self-esteem to survive in a perfection driven society. But it’s equally important to remember to keep loving yourself, even if things aren’t looking the way you hoped they would.
I’m going to try to remember that. Will you?
(PS. St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub with salicylic acid, paired with Lush’s Grease Lightning is the best combination for troubled skin!)