I wasn’t the typical teenage girl, if the typical teenage girl was all about clothes, hair and makeup. In high school I wasn’t allowed to do anything to my hair, per my mother’s dictates. I was taught to wear makeup but the instruction was always “keep it light”, which I took for non-existant. None of my friends in high school seemed to be into “all that stuff” either.
It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I developed a friendship with someone who knew how to do her hair (in multiple ways) and knew how to wear her makeup (perfectly) and knew more about fashion and what made her body look its best than anyone I had ever met. Becoming her friend was like being given a pass into a world I never realized I had been missing. It was the beginning of an interesting journey.
By my mid-thirties I thought I knew how to dress myself. Thought I had learned how to wear my hair. Thought I had discovered what makeup looked good on me. I was comfortable with who I was and felt confident with the woman I was. Then I got this job, in an office full of women that “were women” and gloried in their femininity. I was on the next step of my journey to me and didn’t even really know it.
Over the course of five years around those women I learned things like the importance of a pedicure, the amazing results of pampering myself, the joys of facials, massages, buying jewelry, playing with makeup and yes, even what growing my hair out and learning how to use a flat-iron could do for my self-esteem. I looked back at who I was before that and I thouht…”wow – you thought you knew so much and really knew nothing.”
Today, as I look back on the difference between who I am today and who I was two years ago when I thought that, I am amazed at how much I have actually changed since then. The thing was, I didn’t realize how much I had been changing until one day when my husband took me shopping to get a few new pieces of clothing.
My husband had always been able to buy me anything…from purses to accessories to clothing and it would always be something I loved. It was a surprise to both of us that everything he picked out for me got responses like: ‘Oh, that is okay.”, “mmm…I don’t really think so.”, “yeah, its cute but not really what I am looking for”, etc., etc. It boiled to a head when he, rather frustrated, put a top back on the rack and snapped, “I don’t even know you any more!” The sales attendant standing close by started laughing and responded to him, “Few men will admit that out loud to their wives but it’s a wise man that is willing to learn.”
I’ve been pondering that thought over the last few months and realized that, indeed, my husband no longer knew what my tastes were, what colors I was drawn too, what type of jewelry I prefered, what style of shoes I adored, and why I was never satisfied with just any purse. How could I expect him to know me when I was still unearthing the real me…the 40 something me that was truly comfortable in my own skin.
In September 2010, I was gifted with a make over and to say that it changed my life would be an understatement. Away went the long, straight hair to welcome in a semi-short, sassy hairdo that was sleek, styling, flirty and sexy – all in one.The color changed from dark brown to a deep, rich red. I was actually taught the basics of hair care and the art of applying makeup so that it enhances and looks natural. Then I paid to work with a fashion consultant/personal shopper and discovered I actually have a style. One that makes me feel good about myself even if I need to lose weight.
I look in the mirror today and I know that who I am right now is someone I am truly happy with. This journey of self-discovery has taken almost 20 years but in the mining of me I have discovered a lot about myself and even though I expect to keep learning I am truly happy with the face in the mirror. I know lots of women who would benefit from admitting they lack self-confidence in the personal style arena and I hope that I am a walking, breathing billboard for the value of facing their fears and internal inadequacies to “sit at the feet of the masters” and humbly learn a thing or two.
It’s never too late to find yourself.