Your soul

Dear Younger Me—Everything Will Be Alright.

By January 15, 2016 0

2015 was an interesting year. It was the first year I ever started off with a real, full-time, professional job, a real, full-on, scary mortgage payment, and a real, full-blown sense of self-goddamn-worth.

For the first time since 8th grade, I bought make-up last year. I stopped using or even looking at make-up when I was 13 after I realized I was caught in that vicious “I have break-outs that I must cover up—Oh no, my cover up has caused more break-outs,” cycle we all find ourselves in at one point (or many points) in our young female lives. But this year, I tried some make-up. Tried to be hip and buy some of that BB Cream – liked it, until an older coworker asked me if I had been tanning, because my face seemed a different shade than the rest of my body. Gave up for the summer.

Confession: I judged and scorned women/girls who wore make-up for years, even in very recent months.

Then, as if a light appeared from above, a coworker of mine began selling Mary Kay to help pay for her wedding. I was done-zo. Not only was I buying things that made my cheeks look extra pretty, but I was helping to fund a friends’ wedding budget – not a bad gig!

Long story short, I wear make-up now, and it’s still something me and everyone around me is getting used to. My parents still question my rosy complexion. My fiancé (who is very much an all-natural fan) asks why in the world I spend 15-20 extra minutes every morning painting my face.

And my answer: because I freaking like it.

One night a week or so, I sit down with an intriguing color of nail polish, a few cotton balls, and some bright purple remover, and paint my troubles away. I’m looking at my freshly painted nails right now, clicking away on my keyboard, thinking, “Gosh, look at those finely-polished fingertips. Don’t they look posh.”

I buy clothes. This holiday season, I think I spent more money on myself than my friends and family. I said it was because I needed a more “readily-versatile wardrobe,” but really, I just liked the pretty colors, the flowy sweaters, the cozy-ass socks.

Because: I deserve it.

Last year, every Friday, I would treat myself to a sushi roll or two. I went out for as many happy hours with coworkers as I could squeeze myself into. I treated for drinks and donated to charity at every chance, because it felt good. I gifted outlandish birthday presents because I knew I could, and I knew my friends and family deserved it, too. I bought new boots because I was tired of my socks getting wet in my old ones, even if they did have a decent tread left on the sole. I laid in the sun all goddamn summer and didn’t do a damned thing, save for working for about two weeks at the end of June (#teacherlife). I drink mimosas when I want to, even on an arbitrary Tuesday night. I visit new friends and gave up on re-connecting with old ones. I get my hair cut by a real hair stylist (like, not one who was trained at Super Cuts), and happily go for a trim every few months to keep my layers looking fresh.

Best of all: For the first time, really, I look in the mirror, and I smile.

You should have heard me on the phone with Costco customer service last week, chastising the rep that was attempting to tell me the mistake with the item that had been lost in transit was on my end, not his. I spoke to that man in a tone I don’t think I’ve ever used with anyone before. Two years ago, I would have rolled over and let him take my money, my dignity, and my good spirits, to boot. Nope. Handed his words right back to him, took his name and extension, AND asked to be transferred to his supervisor when he was preparing to disconnect my call.

Because: The customer is always right? No, because I’m always right.

Okay, I take that back, I got ahead of myself there. I am not always right, and actually, I think that’s my favorite part about my newfound vanity. I am so very well-aware of my shortcomings. I am often rash and react too quickly or harshly to a given situation; I am often late; I rarely get enough sleep and stay up too late; I procrastinate too often and needlessly stress myself out.

And it feels damn good to know it, appreciate it, work to make it better, and best of all, to love myself regardless.

I find it a shame it’s taken me 26 (almost 27, eek) years to get to this point. I would have given anything to love myself this much 12, 10, 6 years ago. I would have loved to have had the guts to be true to my self and my soul in college. But then again, I don’t think that’s what your late teens/early 20’s are meant for. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s in our fiber. I think it takes too many years of shyness, of missed opportunities, of sad nights and sadder mornings, to bring you to the truest, purest state of this IDGAF nirvana.

Seventy-seven-year-old Joyce Carol Oates, author of over 40 novels and multi-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize, was interviewed by Buzzfeed News last year and delivered perhaps the single-greatest insight about young adults I’ve ever come across. When asked what she would tell her teenaged self if she could go back in time, Oates replied, “Most young people are somewhat insecure, so I’m sure that I was insecure. If we could tell our younger selves that things would turn out all right, that would be a good thing. But maybe a sense of faint anxiety about the future is a necessary part of being younger, and maybe that’s a good thing, too. It might be better not to interfere with the younger self at all.”

So, according to Ms. Oates, I’m right on cue. My new-found vanity is merely a result of me realizing that things really do turn out alright – and, perhaps more importantly, that if they don’t, sushi, some fresh polish, and a glass of wine will just about do the trick.