I don’t know about you, but I’ve had moments – many moments – where I’ve looked like my mood. You know? Like the way you feel is directly represented in the outfit you chose, or the way your hair looks defines your life at the time. Looking back on the past twenty years or so, I see a lot of mood in the way I presented myself. A lot of negative mood, if I’m being honest.
The morning I went for a hair cut was the morning I took a long look at myself in the mirror. My hair looked like a bird set up shop on my head. It was literally starting to dread itself. All it needed was a few twigs from the trees outside and you’d think I was gunning to be a model for one of those extreme fashion shows. It was limp in some areas, nappy in others, and I couldn’t tame it for the life of me.
It took a mere second and I was judging everything about myself.
Suddenly I became frumpy and bloated and I didn’t like the girl staring back at me in the bathroom mirror. I tried on several different outfits before finally picking one that I felt covered up my frump the best. It was an outfit I threw on with no care at all, not even thinking how it fully complimented my strung-out hair and fowl mood.
I got through the day by placing one of my signature fake smiles across my face – making sure it reached my eyes. I held it there until it was time to go to my appointment, which felt like an eternity. However, the moment my new miracle-worker held my hair in her hands, my mood started to shift. I knew things could only get better from here. And they did. Once she completed her magic on the confusion happening on my head, the fog started to lift. She did a wonderful job and despite the crappy outfit I had on, I felt fabulous.
Fabulous. A word you never would have heard me utter about myself 20+ years ago. A word I’m still learning to use when describing myself.
You see, self-esteem is something I’ve struggled with since that kid in elementary school told me that if I think I’m pretty, then that means I’m conceited. That stung. I didn’t understand why thinking I was pretty was such a bad thing, but I knew I didn’t want to be labelled as conceited. Since I was around the tween ages and nothing made sense to me, I followed that kid’s advice and changed the way I saw myself. Since then, insecurity has followed me around like a lost puppy.
Being diagnosed with depression and anxiety in high school took a major toll on my well-being and I flipped back and forth from looking like a schlep and actually trying to look presentable.
With a little help from my friends, my tapered-jeans went out the window and I was introduced to this thing called “90’s fashion”. I looked better, but I wasn’t cured. I was still riding the emotional teeter-totter. I would go from wearing my 1980-blue-elastic-at-the-ankle sweatpants to wearing flared-jeans and a fitted top. I went from keeping my hair up in a bun with frizzy bits poking out like I’d been zapped by lightening, to jazzing up my hair by either straightening my curls or styling them.
My refusal to invest in myself on a full-time basis continued into my early twenties. I was becoming far too comfortable with not caring about myself. There were periods of times where I thought I didn’t have to try because I should be enough, and I even tried to hit on guys while wearing clothes meant for sleeping, stains and all.
I mean, I’m cute right? Sure, I look like a hot mess, but it’s inside that counts, isn’t it?
Looking back, I can see the pattern that was painted on the wall in which I refused to see at the time. When you’ve convinced yourself you’re not enough, you become that: not enough. When you dismiss the idea that you’re worth the time, you fall deeper into the black hole that feeds on your unhappiness. The mind has a way to trick you into believing you’re not enough when in fact, you are. But it also can change your thought process, if you allow it.
When I got home from my hair cut, I looked at myself in the mirror. Like, really looked. As my hair draped around my shoulders, I realized that all those times when I was moody and felt crappy, I was also presenting myself as how I felt. Happy times meant neat hair, flowered skirts, and colourful tops. Crappy times meant nappy hair, and the same unflattering outfits. I may have seemed happy at the time, despite what I looked like – I have mastered the skill in shielding my emotions – but I can see now that I wasn’t.
We’re all worth the time and energy we need to spend on ourselves to make ourselves feel good. Wearing our fowl moods will only allow us to further bask in negativity. I’d like to start making more of an effort on myself, especially when I’m in a nasty funk.
I think I owe myself that much. I think we all do.
For more on self-esteem, come read This Woman Was Beautiful and I Wanted to Tell Her