Remember that time, in Rule #2, when I said Molly-Ten-Years-Ago could be a bit impetuous?
So, do I.
And that side of Young Molly is showing itself–yet again–in the way Rule #11 is written. The tone is very Rub-Some-Dirt-In-ItTM. And it lacks compassion.
So, Molly-Today is commandeering the ship (again) and slightly changing the rule. Moving forward, Rule #11 shall read as such:
Humility can be your greatest strength. Stop comparing yourself to someone else. Learn your full capacity.
Now, we can continue.
Let’s think back to Rule #8, which was all about learning our true selves, and then learning how to embrace that.
Some magic that we touched upon within that rule, is that when we start to embrace ourselves and showcase that to the world, we teach others how to do the same thing. And perhaps we aren’t professionals at the outset, but each day we work on ourselves or our goals, is one unit of effort closer to achieving these pieces of ourselves.
Remember how I spoke of Kristen and Jenna, the two ladies who taught me how to learn my own face back in Rule #8? I remember comparing myself to them for quite some time, instead of asking them for guidance.
This tendency is called “Horizontal Comparison.” And it is truly tempting.
While I’m glad I finally leaned away from that temptation and just asked for their help, I understand why we frequently do succumb: comparing the rudimentary areas of ourselves and our lives, to the polished and practiced areas of those who have taken the time and care to learn the same skill.
And I certainly understand how easy it is just to wallow in the delta.
The pain that comes from sitting in self-pity comes from the fact that we compare ourselves to others. I’ve always known that it’s wrong to think you are better than someone else. But, until recently, I had never considered that it is equally incorrect to believe you are beneath someone else.
So, Rule #11 is all about excising our tendencies toward horizontal comparison. Because what tends to happen within horizontal comparison, is a false version of humility.
Care to guess what many of us confuse humility with?
So, let’s start this discussion by defining humility: freedom from pride or arrogance.
Where humility is a modest view of your own level of importance, self-deprecation is criticism of yourself. (Never forget that the way we treat ourselves, and speak about ourselves, teaches others how they may treat us, as well…a la Rules #5 & #6.)
Humility allows you to see yourself as a work in progress, a whole being to be known and discovered with time and effort. Whereas, self-deprecation is an unspoken expectation to be superior, without actual effort towards mastery. Lest we become the butt of the joke. Often, our own jokes.
But what I have noticed with my own career in self-criticism, is that more often than not, I was using it as a defense mechanism. One of those “Well, I didn’t want to play anyway” kind of reactions to things not going perfectly the first time around.
I’m someone who doesn’t appreciate her limitations, which is easy enough to admit, I guess. What I will not easily admit, though, is the underlying mentality of This: I purposely don’t try at things I’m not confident at, because I don’t want to solidify the fact that I might not be good at something.
The inner workings of my self-deprecating thought process has always been: you can’t lose at something you weren’t trying to win.
By telling myself my efforts are not going to go well, I won’t be disappointed when they don’t go well…so I don’t even try. And when it’s too late for me to try, the reason I won’t have succeeded is because I didn’t have enough time (not because I couldn’t do it…right?).
A self-fulfilling prophecy, in which perfectionism breeds procrastination.
When we undercut or overestimate ourselves, we fail to achieve what we are actually capable of. Because in either situation, we don’t trust our potential, so we end up not trying to our fullest capacities.
Self-deprecation is a very toxic habit in which to engage. Because this world is actually not calling for us to put ourselves in the red, which is what happens here. Self-deprecation is not an acceptance of who you are as a person, but a diminution.
And if you speak to yourself in diminishing words and tones, day in and day out, for years, you have only and effectively managed to stand in your own way.
But Molly, I just don’t want other people to think I’m full of myself, or conceited!
A fair point, indeed, dear reader. But there are critical AND loving ways we can speak to/about ourselves, without sounding egotistical. Even if you say loving things to yourself in a satirical manner, at least you’re getting into the habit of positivity, and gradually breaking the habit of stark negativity.
And this is important because when you hear something enough times, you tend to believe it. Constant derision is a powerful form of self-sabotage that subtly leads us to believe we are not worthy of positive things.
To believe that you don’t deserve the goodness you want. To believe that if you can’t do it well immediately you won’t even try. Or to believe that you don’t deserve to feel a full range of emotions.
Because instead of looking at others for inspiration, we most often say “I’ll never be able to do that” and we walk away.
The most dangerous part of self-deprecation is that we compare our struggles to those of others, and sometimes end up writing off our detriments as not good enough, or not hard enough, to warrant seeking help.
Think back to Rule #4. And how long I allowed myself to go untreated. The majority of the time, I kept myself contained because “I don’t have a reason to feel this way.” “I’ve never had to struggle a day in my life, I haven’t earned the right to feel this way.” “Other people have it worse than you, Molly.”
Not only did I feel that I was beyond help, I was convinced I wasn’t worth helping.
And I turned to dark humor to revel in how low I felt. The lower I felt, the darker the humor. And the more my brain fixated on dark solutions.
This is my cautionary tale: the first thing this faux humility does, is it takes away your power by turning it into a punchline.
Where humility tells us to work with what we have, one step at a time; self-deprecation tells us we are not enough, unless we are Textbook Perfect.
So, the most powerful aspect of Rule #11 is that, at its core, humility is the rejection of perfectionism.
Because when we endeavor to improve and learn new things, we are, in essence, rewiring our brains! We get to give ourselves a period of grace. What perfectionism fails to acknowledge is that starting off should be rudimentary. We should enjoy each stumble along the way towards improvement.
Humility asks us to stop looking at life as a test. As some penultimate exam we must pass each day. And instead, look at each day as a chance to accumulate new data about ourselves.
The greatest discoveries of all time were born of the Scientific Method. Why not each of us, too? Each attempt teaches us something new, or something that didn’t work.
As with everything, the road to get where we want to be involves a lot of introspection, and a lot of grit. Develop your strength in humility, to take stock of your own inventory of resources, and guide yourself to ask for what you are lacking.
Before anything else, this rule asks us to assess where we are, where we want to be, and what we need in order to get there. (While it would be nice, we don’t magically transform our lives overnight just from reading Rule #1 alone.). And then it commands us to take the first baby step. And then another.
This rule is about looking to others as inspiration, instead of discouragement.
This rule is about not waiting to start.
This rule is about trusting in your own power, and never detracting from it.
Don’t simply accept your limits. Understand them.
And don’t accept defeat when you attempt to overcome those limits.
To do so would be the exact opposite of everything Miley Cyrus taught us!
So, let’s wrap this up:
What are the areas in your life that you see room for improvement?
How do you speak to yourself, when planning steps forward in these areas? How do you speak to yourself, throughout your steps forward?
Who are the people that inspire you the most?
How often have you turned to these individuals to help you achieve your goals?
At long last, we have made it to Rule #10!
Now, the very cynical part of my brain is basically shouting: Molly, no one wants to read a post about the power of friendship! Go sing Kumbaya elsewhere.
And I can’t say I blame anyone who feels that way. Because you’d think that after the better part of 30 years, I would have figured out how friendship works…rendering the topic of this post largely unnecessary.
But this blog isn’t about catering to the whims of my cynicism. So, I’m ignoring that part of me, in an effort to stop prolonging this exposition.
What Molly-Today feels like discussing isn’t just the idea of having friends. Rather, I want to discuss how lovely it is that friendship is a powerful ally in our journeys.
And I want to go into this conversation being perfectly honest with myself, and with anyone out there reading this blog: I am not good at being a friend.
Or at least, Molly-Over-The-Past-Ten-Years has not been good at being a friend.
Historically, these are the tendencies I’ve had in maintaining my relationships:
- I hide my feelings. Or convince myself that I’m wrong for feeling a certain way.
- I fall out of touch. For seemingly no reason at all.
- I cover up my needs. Or figure out a way to work around a need I may have.
- I make myself as small as possible, so that I’m not inconvenient or a nuisance.
- I seek out someone else to give me identity. After all, why would someone want to know Me?
This list could go on forever. (Seriously.) For the sake of time, I will leave it at that.
Does this sound familiar to a previous post? Because it should: these are excellent examples of Codependency!
I talked about codependency being a large issue in relationships back in Rule #3. And just like our behaviors in any romantic relationship, the same behaviors can be tracked into our platonic ones, too.
So, let’s revisit the central theme of Rule #3:
Two individuals honoring each other through their independence, and trusting one another in time spent apart.
Okay, well, that’s great, Molly. But it sounds like this rule is just telling me to ditch my best friend for other friends?
To which I will say: Sort of, yes. Though, in my personal quest to become a better friend, I have come to realize that I technically don’t subscribe to the term “best friend.”
In my humble opinion, we go through too many phases and growth spurts in our lives to assign such a title to any one person. Our lives bring us to so many new people who become influential and meaningful to us, and none of them should be ranked higher or lower than others.
In theory, the people we trust with our thoughts and feelings are those we hold dear. No matter how frequently we interact or talk.
And each person in our sentinel brings their own perspective to our world, and ours to theirs.
There are friends I have known since childhood, and friends I have known for a few months that have impacted me profoundly, in similar yet different ways.
Alternatively, there are people I have known for years who I don’t share that connection with.
So, where does that leave this discussion?
Well, recently, a friend of mine and I were discussing our pasts, and we both realized that throughout our lives we had prioritized what we called “friendships” with others, that were actually pretty shallow and baseless.
And when we needed to lean on these friends, we discovered, to our individual dismays, that they fell through.
How could this be? I had devoted so much time with this person, or these people!
Well, my friends, here’s a little math fact for you (as a treat):
Distance = Rate x Time
How does this apply here?
The distance that our relationships will grow does not solely depend on the amount of time you spend doing things with the people around you.
It also depends on your rate of travel.
And with many of Past-Molly’s relationships, I was spending the time, but I was particularly guarded, and actively avoided letting anyone get to know Me.
And guess what! That level of vulnerability was reciprocated.
The rate of travel was basically zero. And when you multiply by nothing, you get Nothing.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the term “fake friend” at some point or another, but I suppose a better term for this concept would be “performative friendship.”
And let me tell you: Molly-Over-The-Past-Ten-Years was doing a great song and dance.
This manifested itself almost cyclically.
In each chapter of my life, there was always one person that I spent heavy amounts of time with, above the rest. Perhaps I treated this “friend” as a security blanket of sorts: they would be the person I did everything with.
I wouldn’t make plans without consulting this person first, and probably wouldn’t attend social outings if that person wasn’t in attendance as well.
To the outside world, I could be labeled this person’s “Best Friend.”
Each iteration of this cycle ultimately involved me allowing someone into my gravitational field for show. I would engage in fun activities or meals or work with them, and have dialogues that went back and forth, but were never substantial enough to really tie me to said person.
A thrilling concept I like to call “Toxicity in Friendship!”
Certainly, Molly-Over-The-Past-Ten-Years didn’t set out to have empty connections. And I have built beautiful friendships with many people over my lifetime (mostly because those people are incredible, and innately knew how to navigate the obstacles my anxiety built).
But Past-Molly very simply believed that the people who spent time with her didn’t actually want to be doing that, and were just bored. I saw myself as a last resort for others.
I allowed my social anxiety to override the confidence I should have had in myself. I know that I am capable of great friendships, but I believed, to my core, that no one could actually want me around.
So the idea that another person (not to mention several people) would want to participate in my life was fantastical to me. And when one person showed that they were willing to keep me around, I latched on and held tight, ignoring all others.
I wasn’t willing to risk losing a “best friend,” in favor of developing “true friends.”
Because here’s the real kicker: I was using my “best friend” as someone who could be my identity. And if I wasn’t spending every last one of my waking moments with this person, then who was I???
Further, if I wasn’t spending time with them, then what if they forgot about me? What if they replaced me? And then I really was up a creek without a paddle? Without a singular clue as to who I was?
The ultimate Red Flag of these friendships sprouted from the fact that I did not know myself at all.
By implementing Rule #10, we remove our ability to hide behind someone else. Instead, we learn how to connect and thrive, by growing with many. And like we learned in Rules #5 & #6, your sentinel becomes a powerful boundary in cultivating You.
This rule is so important because it actually trains us either to correct or eradicate performative friendships that do not help us to grow.
Because when we limit our sphere of influence to one individual, we actually cut ourselves off at the knees.
We don’t get to learn about the world or about ourselves. And by doing so, we end up drawing our fulfillment from someone else. A danger we talked about in Rule #1.
So, this rule is about how we should surround ourselves with the emotional safety true friendships naturally bring, while we chase our dreams and build lives we don’t have to escape from.
Surround yourself with people who love and support You, even while you are still figuring out who that is. Surround yourself with people you trust. Tell them about your life, and your heart, and your goals, and let them tell you about theirs!
Surround yourself with people who will help you face your fears. Surround yourself with people who challenge you in a loving way. Surround yourself with people who hold you accountable to yourself.
Rule #10 is about how healthy our lives become when our sentinel is filled with quality and sincerity.
This rule is about painting the beautiful and diverse story of your life, by looking to the people you cherish and love.
So, let’s wrap this up:
How do you honor each of your friendships?
How have you seen codependency manifest itself in your relationships?
What are the toxic tendencies you have, which may be undermining your friendships?
Do these tendencies reveal an opportunity for personal reflection and growth?
Once again, and as always, Molly-Ten-Years-Ago has managed to oversimplify a very complicated concept: conflict resolution.
If you haven’t picked up on this throughout my previous rules (or for those just joining us at Rule #9), I’ll spell it out very plainly for you: I tend to avoid conflict.
I truly loathe it. Molly-Ten-Years-Ago, Molly-Over-The-Past-Ten-Years, Molly-Today. Historically, I have never enjoyed conflict.
In fact, I used to dislike it so much, that I actively avoided getting in trouble, or doing things wrong, or hurting someone else. Learning I had done these things was debilitating to me. We can call it perfectionism, but Young Molly associated each of these things, not with being human, but with being The Bad Guy.
And with regards to this rule, she associated having a disagreement with being in the wrong. The other person was right and good, and I was wrong and bad.
So, while it was easy for her to write this rule as a simple step-by-step, even Molly-Ten-Years-Ago went above and beyond to avoid hard conversations.
Is it any surprise that Adult Molly felt such discomfort in addressing her negative feelings to someone else? Especially if that someone else was the perceived cause of the negativity. Is it any wonder that Molly-Over-The-Past-Ten-Years allowed so many others to violate her personhood?
Thankfully, I have since accepted that having these dialogues is not only important for interpersonal connection, it’s important for uncovering our true selves. Which is a great thing!
Through conflict, we learn where our boundaries lie; we learn what we are passionate about and why; we learn what we need to educate ourselves about; we learn how to solve problems together; we learn how to speak tenderly to each other in tense times; we learn how to apologize.
So, let’s discuss how Rule #9 is actually about incorporating all of our previous rules. Because this rule is about those hard conversations we have in order to honor and defend ourselves and our boundaries. To honor and defend those we care about.
Or maybe we’re defending ourselves to those we care about.
And sometimes, we raise our voices to defend those we have never met, whose voices have been silenced.
However, before we can resolve conflict externally, it’s important to resolve it within ourselves. How do we achieve peace internally in order to have healthy dialogue with others externally? How can we convey, in a productive manner, what we feel, if we go off half-cocked?
As I began writing this post, I had to ask myself a few questions:
How often do I identify myself, not as an individual person, but as my emotions, or my preferences, or my passions, or my interests?
When I could not separate myself from these things, how often have I felt attacked when someone disagreed with me about them? How often have I felt hurt when someone disregarded one of my boundaries?
Moreover, how many times have I lashed out against someone else, because, instead of seeing them as an individual person, I identified them as The-Human-Manifestation-Of-These-Things-I-Don’t-Like? Or The-Thing-They-Did-That-Hurt-Me?
Our first step in conflict resolution must be to remove a very specific impulse: to label either party as Victim or Villain. We simply cannot attach such stark labels to anyone and still expect a productive or candid conversation to take place.
Let’s take this one step further and really tear the mask off what is happening with these labels: (more often than not) we have created a dishonest portrayal of events in our own minds. This defense mechanism allows us to hide from the fact that we may have contributed to whatever caused us pain.
The truth is: I am not victimized because someone has overstepped a bound. Or because someone’s mindset differs from my own. And no one is a villain for not clearing the bar of my standards.
If we want to embrace loveliness, we must move past the point where we’ve given anyone the power to devastate us in these ways.
As an adult, I’ve worked hard to arrive at the point where my immediate impulse is to analyze. Analyze the full situation. Honestly. Analyze the reasons someone may have acted a certain way. Honestly. Analyze what has happened or what will not happen. Honestly.
Maybe this takes a few days, maybe I have to address this all in a few moments. Regardless, in the midst of the action or the tension, I attempt to gain some clarity for myself. I try to be quiet and sit with my emotions before I continue to engage with the other party. Doing so helps me to realize what I want to achieve through resolution.
In an effort to grow, we need to get into the practice of analyzing the emotions we feel within the context of a specific situation. At the same time, we need to practice understanding that we are not the emotions we feel.
Yeah, yeah, Molly. I’ve analyzed. Now what?
Well, I am so glad you asked!
Remember the Wheel of Emotions from Rule #7? This next step is all about understanding why we are feeling the emotions we identify. When you analyze the full situation, what emotions does each successive detail evoke?
You may have seen red at the outset of your conflict, but which shade of red? Ask yourself what iteration of angry or sad or bad the violation of your boundary made you feel: Did I feel tricked? Did I feel taken advantage of? Did I feel betrayed? Did I feel provoked? Did I feel dishonored? Did I feel jealous?
With this introspection, we next get to examine what these emotions are teaching us: What could I have done differently? What was the other person trying to achieve, and how could they have done so differently? What will I look out for next time, to prevent this from occurring again? How can I help the other party to avoid hurting me or someone else in the future?
Once we’ve worked through these questions, our final step is presenting these reflections to the proper party (not the third parties we may be venting to, though their input is much appreciated!).
So, what does this look like in action? How do we start this conversation?
Well, let’s start with What-Not-To-Do. I’ve learned to avoid using unnecessary and emotionally-charged words to describe the situation, nor should I over-describe what happened. I no longer use hyperbole, as it discounts the credibility of everything else I want to say. And the hardest thing I’ve learned is that I shouldn’t make accusations.
These all add insult to injury, and they do so needlessly. So, what do these Should Nots sound like?
“You made me [insert adjective]…” “I am so [insert adjective] that you [insert action]…” “Obviously, you did [insert action] on purpose…” “I hate that you always do this…”
Notice how the syntax of these phrases is attacking and counterproductive. More than likely, commanding your feelings to and raising your voice at the person you are speaking with will prevent them from hearing You.
Additionally, we get to leave our mean, snide and sarcastic comments and/or tones of voice at the door. Just because you choose your words wisely, does not mean your tone can’t undermine them. These are deflections we use to hide behind, and we don’t need them here.
What’s important to keep in mind is your intention in speaking with the other party. Defending your boundaries should not look like tearing someone else down, or causing them their own pain. If your mindset in speaking with your other party is to Go For The JugularTM, then I’ve missed the mark with my post.
So, to make the essence of Rule #9 perfectly clear, I want to share two of my favorite quotes on this topic:
“When you and [someone] are fighting, you both need to remember it’s you two versus the problem, not you versus [the other person].”
“With compromise, you both lose. You must both collaborate on the best possible outcome.”
How beautiful are these quotes? They show us that our disagreements or conflicts could actually be chances to team up and grow together. To open our minds and create new possibilities. To heal with more efficacy than to cause more pain.
Just like any other conversation, we start with syntax and tone. We use active listening, and direct eye contact. We ask probing questions. We give the other person a chance to confirm their side of the situation.
We should practice the following phrasing when helping others to understand how their actions affected us:
I felt + [insert adjective] + when + [insert your understanding of the situation].
I’ve found that this style of phrasing helps to de-escalate tensions when they are running a little high. It helps both sides of the conversation to see the person, not the emotion. This particular formula eliminates the opportunity for you to hide behind the identity of an emotion, and also allows you the opportunity to share your perspective of the event-in-question.
When we start our confrontation with simple phrasing, the opportunity to address the subject at hand becomes much more feasible, and less daunting for both parties.
As you move through the conversation, you can ask questions to help you understand the full situation. Taking conflict resolution in baby steps actually moves you forward, instead of being held back and mired in negativity.
Though collaborative resolution is beautiful, you can expect it to be difficult to face. But that doesn’t mean conflict is something to avoid.
This rule is about practicing it anyway. This rule is about how you will become stronger.
This rule is about how conflict resolution will never be easy, but you will become better at it.
Rule #9 is no longer about achieving conflict resolution. It is actually about striving for collaborative resolution.
Where both parties can conclude a hard conversation with peace, instead of pain.
Where your discussion can soothe the full spectrum of emotions you felt.
Where what is broken through human nature can become beautiful through reparation.
So, let’s wrap this up:
Do you find that you lean in to conflict resolution, or do you find that you try to avoid it?
How often do you find yourself creating a dishonest portrayal of a situation that upset you?
What tactics do you take in resolving conflicts with those you care about?
How has your approach to collaborative resolution changed over your lifetime?
So far, I’ve been enjoying each week’s exposition on the variety of angles we can take for introspection. But I’d say it’s about time we take a look at how our internal reflections begin to manifest themselves externally.
Molly-Over-The-Past-Ten-Years has learned to be unabashedly open to what she loves. Since middle and high school, she cracked a very critical code:
People are going to criticize you no matter what you do, so you might as well be purposeful about and proud of yourself and your preferences.
With that lesson learned, Molly-Today loves feeling beautiful. I love it. This has not changed over the past 30 years. I’ve just learned to give myself permission to feel my own form of beautiful. Every day. To love dresses, and make-up, and long, flowing hair. To love singing, and writing, and learning, and talking. Because that makes me feel beautiful.
I’ve also learned to give myself permission to derive beauty from feeling powerful and strong. To love black, and wearing clothes that allow me to test my physical limits, and tying my hair back to concentrate. To love nature (even though I do not care for bugs or their bites), and climbing rocks, and WWII narratives, and campfires. I love it all. Because I love it.
With regards to Rule #8 in its present state, Molly-Ten-Years-Ago probably picked this Marilyn Monroe quote because she loved the idea of being ladylike. She loved the concept that “The magic is in the mystery.” She loved modesty and dressing like a casual young royal.
And if someone else loves that same thing: great. And if someone else loves the exact opposite thing: also great.
So maybe this specific quote works for the people who want That Same ThingTM. But Molly-Today understands that this is likely a small subset of the population. Certainly not the whole.
However, I want this blog about being lovely to apply to anyone who reads it. I want it to apply to all of the women that want to be feminine. I want it to apply to all of the women that want to be masculine. I want it to apply to all of the people that want to be anything.
So, here’s how Molly-Today thinks Rule #8 should read:
“Your clothes should fit however you want them to fit, and should make you feel however you want to feel.”
And what’s important to note is that you may feel two, or ten, opposing ways about yourself…and that is fantastic! Because, just as we discussed in Rule #1, you are You. Your personality is not mutually exclusive from day to day, or moment to moment.
Neither do your descriptors exist in mutual exclusivity. You do not have to be “Delicate and Feminine Only” on one day, so that you can choose to be “Fierce and Force-to-be-Reckoned-With Only” on another day. You never have to be “Intellectual Bookworm Only” one day, so that you can be “ATHLETIC AND SPORTY ONLY” another day.
That’s simply not what the Spice Girls would have wanted.
These tropes are cliche, and limiting, and unfair. A while ago, I stumbled upon this quote, which really solidified how I felt on this topic:
We are dynamic beings, with a multitude of contrasting factors to us! All of these feelings we hold occur in varying levels of our lives, and we get to figure out how to portray that to the world.
How creatively wonderful!
It should come as no surprise to you that, though I will be talking about both of these things, this Rule is actually nothing about clothing or makeup. Rather, Rule #8 is all about taking note of what you love about yourself and presenting that to the world.
I’ve learned that most of life is about taking the time to learn what we love and what we love about ourselves, and giving ourselves permission to emphasize those items together.
I firmly believe that we know what we love by a very young age, but taunting and teasing throughout our adolescence make us conform away from our true selves. How many interests and traits have we hidden throughout our lifetimes, in an effort to gain external acceptance?
So, Rule #8 is about rediscovering what we may have pushed aside many years ago. And being so confident in your own interests and personality that you wear them with pride, literally and/or figuratively.
This rule is about turning what we love into the rituals we use to face the world. Because this mental uniform we don is our armor.
I think about the time I spend executing the exact same make-up routine every morning.
Or the time I take to curl each strand of hair on my head.
I also think about the formula of clothing I use each day.
All of these steps I take every morning? They all prepare me to face each day authentically and without added self-doubt.
But I also think about how many years it took me to get to this mental outfit. And how much courage it takes to get to this point of acceptance.
Because, in all honesty, Young Molly was never comfortable with her outward appearance. Molly-Today still struggles with it. I’ve always felt that I had awkward features, and my fine motor skills just did not know how to work with that.
Throughout my school career, I didn’t wear makeup. Mostly because I didn’t know how. Each attempt at masking my face was laughable at best.
This discomfort in my own skin persisted until several years after I graduated college, when life presented me with an opportunity.
We shall name this opportunity: Kristen and Jenna.
Kristen and Jenna were two of my coworkers when I was working overseas. Everyday, I would catch myself staring at them out of envy…and confusion: how can these ladies look so ethereal and natural and make it look so effortless?
I was very tempted to cross into the dangerous territory of Horizontal Comparison, which we will discuss in a later rule.
Instead, in the spirit of Rule #4, I worked up the courage to ask them if they would mind spending time doing my makeup one day, and teaching me any tips they had.
They were so kind and so willing to share their knowledge with me!
Kristen and Jenna shared with me that makeup is not about hiding yourself. At all. Rather, it is all about art theory: identifying your facial structure, understanding where light naturally falls on your face, and utilizing the color wheel. It should be fun, not frustrating.
Throughout their time with me, they would say things like:
“I imagine the sun would hit you here, so we’re going to keep this area lighter than the rest of your face…but the sun would also cause you to have a hint of color here, so let’s put some blush in this area…“
Their makeup session was very much like a session with Bob Ross.
When they were done, I remember looking in the mirror, and feeling astonished at how Me I looked. But emboldened. The point of our session wasn’t to mask my face behind a plaster, but to draw attention to it.
These ladies introduced me to such basic yet profound principles of seeing myself as a work of art. They hadn’t changed anything about my features, they hadn’t made one single negative remark. They had only enhanced the features of my face.
From that moment forward, I made an effort to stop being shy in the mirror. I made a point to learn my own features. To understand the geometry and topography of my face, and learn how to appreciate the facets that, before, I had allowed to make me feel inadequate.
After enough time, I found that gratitude was growing where awkwardness had lived for so long.
I may still struggle with moments of self-criticism. But when I look at myself in the mirror now, with or without makeup on, I no longer feel awkward. I no longer lend negative energy towards what I don’t like.
I simply study what I see. I’ve gotten comfortable with the way the light hits certain angles. I’ve learned how to emphasize spots that I like, in an effort to enhance those that I should like.
And the same thing happened with my body and my wardrobe: I no longer needed an array of wild items to create my daily look and disguise my body. I became comfortable with wearing basic pieces that didn’t do the work of my personality, but provided a clean and simple canvas for my personality.
This rule is not about asserting that someone should or should not wear makeup or a certain style of clothing. In fact, all of these rules will always be about adapting what we learn from our own experiences into helping others embrace themselves.
Rule #8 is about learning your unique facets, and embracing what you may not have always been comfortable with. This rule is about forgiving yourself if you aren’t at that point yet.
This rule is about drawing strength from your interests, and celebrating yourself in front of others.
This rule is about adorning your body with gratitude and appreciation, each day.
So, let’s wrap this up:
What are things you love and how do those items translate externally in your life?
When do you feel most beautiful, and what factors contribute to these moments?
Have you ever struggled to accept some part of your appearance?
What are ways you have worked to embrace what you have struggled with?