What does it mean that most of the time I worry everything to death before it happens…and then when it happens, am just metaphorically shrugging my shoulders and getting on with it?
Every time I thought about leaving my house without a stitch of Sephora-created camouflage, my anxiety flared like a case of hives. I think that on some level, the idea of people seeing the real, comfortable me that is who I am with my closest friends terrifies me, and so I see the makeup issue as a construct of that fear.
It’s like I’m saying, here’s who I am at home, with my defenses down, when I don’t care about what anyone watching would think about me…in fact, the thought that anyone is watching never enters into my head at all. (Also it helps that usually it’s only cats who are watching.)
At any rate, I decided to use my talent for avoiding certain thoughts for good, and went for it. I washed my face, applied my daily sunscreen, and walked out the door. I felt stiff at first as I left my neighborhood, because the only thing worse than a stranger seeing me as I really am, apparently, is a casual acquaintance seeing me as I really am. Some days I can escape the area without seeing anyone, but this day, naturally, I passed a neighbor of mine walking his dogs (he’s fairly attractive, which freezes me whenever I see him, even though I have absolutely no interest in him romantically). I forced myself to wave and say hi as I normally would, and then ducked my face into my hair as I sped away to my car.
I took pictures for comparison purposes, but unfortunately, didn’t realize until too late that my camera was inoperable–so ended up with awkward cell phone photos. I did make an effort to take them in the same place at nearly the same time of day, though.
When I got to work, the first coworker I met mentioned that she thought I looked tired. I’m always tired; this is why I love undereye concealer.
Apart from that brief solicitous note, here are the reactions of my coworkers:
- Already knew I was planning this, so noted that the experiment was underway and said that she didn’t think I really looked any different (is this good or bad?).
- Also knew the plan; didn’t really notice until the following day, when she realized that I looked different and asked me if I had been makeup-less the day before.
- No reaction.
- Asked me if I had done something different with my hair.
- No reaction.
That’s a pretty small sample size, of course, but still interesting.
That morning, as I was getting my things out of my car, I grabbed my jacket (for sun protection while driving!) and accidentally tossed my cell phone out of the car and into the parking lot, shattering the back. That meant a trip to the Apple Store was in order that same day.
In my town, the Apple Store is located in a pretty sparkly fancy shopping mall for very wealthy people. I’m usually comfortable running errands after my weekend morning beach runs (read: sweaty, old clothes and Vibrams), but this is one place I won’t go without being properly dressed. I think my grandmother drilled that into my head as a teenager (“We do not go to Waterside wearing blue jeans.“).
So I was definitely a bit skittish about walking in barefaced. But by the time I got there, it was the end of a very long day, and I still had a lot to do, so I just gritted my teeth and got it done.
Again, no specific reaction. As usual, I felt like people were looking at me, but I’m aware that’s just my anxiety, and I feel that way no matter what I look like at the moment. I managed to interact normally with the employees, get my phone repaired, and then hightailed it out of there.
I feel pretty good that I made it through the day with no negative comments on my appearance (other than those from inside my own mind). Perhaps this will give me the capability to do without on other occasions–at the very least while running on a boardwalk in the swamp.
Or perhaps the confidence I get from filling in my eyebrows makes the entire charade worth it.