“Is that what I look like?” I asked.
Babs tilted her phone towards me so I could take a closer look at the photo she’d just snapped.
“I look cute!” I marveled, grabbing the phone from her hands.
“You are cute,” she replied in typical mom fashion.
I stared at the picture for another moment. Huh. I hadn’t wanted her to take the photo. I was sitting on her back porch in hiking gear, eating snacks, feeling grimy and gross and shiny and pudgy.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times when I am Feeling. My. Self. This was not one of them.
The next day, I sat in a plastic chair, sweat starting to pool at the base of my spine. Three fiery orange lights pointed directly at my foil-covered head.
“Just a few more minutes,” a woman in a black smock said with a smile, disappearing to concoct more ammonia-scented tinctures behind closed doors.
What am I doing? Why am I spending 3+ precious hours -not to mention hundreds of dollars- stuck inside on this beautiful June day, covered in chemicals, flipping through a magazine in order to learn more about Mark Hamill’s ill-fated marriage?
Did I think perfect highlights would give me that I Feel Pretty moment?
What was I really after every time someone snapped a group selfie and I insisted they take it from atop Mount Everest, or I decided to drop half a month’s rent on a universally accepted, if questionable, beauty ritual?
In two days, I drive 2,780 miles to a new city that I intend to call home – at least for the next year.
This is exciting. This is terrifying. As someone who, in the span of five years, lost her job, got divorced, moved three times, got dumped twice, started a new job, had a life-changing epiphany and went vegan, enrolled in (and finished) grad school, gave up a kitchen in favor of tiny living, quit her aforementioned new job, and sold all of her stuff, I’m still every bit as scared as ever to try something new.
Much like bravery -that thing you only have because you’re willing to sh*t your pants on a regular basis (…hang on, is that not how the saying goes?)- confidence isn’t an unwavering friend, staring you back in the mirror murmuring, “You got this.”
Confidence skirts behind bullied childhoods and face palm-inducing moments. Confidence comes as quickly as she goes, and holding onto her sometimes feels like reaching for that perfect hair day. There is no perfect hair day.
“See this?” I held up my phone to Babs, having just finished the 3+ hour follicle-torture ritual. “This is all lies.”
“No, it isn’t! You just took that photo. I was sitting right next you!” she said with a sideways glance.
I snapped another picture, holding it underneath my face, sunlight highlighting every chin and their respective hairs.
“I also just took this one.”
Babs looked at my phone and laughed.
In two days, I’m going to remind myself that during every one of those 2,780 miles, I have a choice. I can decide to see myself as the girl with
8,000 chins unforgivable flaws, incapable of making new friends in a new town -or- as the unstoppable girl woman brimming with something even more intoxicating than confidence: self-love.
How do you keep a brave face?