I want to share a secret with you. Something more like a confession. Something you may find shocking. Something I’m a little ashamed to admit;
I have let my standards slip.
I have always been a little high maintenance when it comes to my appearance. And, ok, I don’t spend thousands on nail technicians or hairdressers. Essentially because I am too much of a control freak, but also because I don’t have the money. But I always did have the time. And the inclination.
I would spend hours getting ready for a night out. Often the best bit (and certainly the part I could remember), I would painstakingly apply product after product with expert precision. Primer and base and powder and bronzer and blusher and shadow and highlighter…the list is endless.
And I loved it all.
I planned outfits to within an inch of their life. Entire phone conversations, taking place days in advance, would be devoted to discussing the outfit options. Always accessorised appropriately; complimentary shoes and bag, statement jewellery, well fitting (and, yes, always matching) underwear; a look for every occasion.
And hair. Hair was always my favourite.
I am proud to say I am a perfectionist. But perfect is a problem.
At first others told me this. Apparently getting up at 4.30am on a work day Wednesday to wash and style your hair before trying on every item of clothing in your wardrobe, rejecting them all and then refusing to go to work because you have cried so hard your make up is ruined is not normal behaviour. I didn’t believe them.
And then it happened. Time was no longer on my side and so it started with the eyeliner…
Terrified, I ventured out with tired eyes . Too sore. I simply couldn’t look.
And do you know what happened? Did the universe implode upon itself? Did strangers stop, gasp and recoil in horror as I passed them in the street? Did friends pretend not to see me and turn the other way?
No. Nothing. No one even noticed.
They failed to notice the day I got up late and opted for dry shampoo. Or when I forgot to buy a new foundation. Or wore a skirt with slightly stubbly legs.
And that made me sad. Why, you may ask, was I sad that something dreadful, terrible or horrific failed to happen? But it is my hope that I am not alone in knowing the answer because that would simply be sadder still.
The truth is this: I have wasted over fifteen years of my life believing that how I looked made an impact, that how I looked mattered, that how I looked even changed the world. Wasted time.
And I may not be ready to ditch that make up bag completely. And I can’t ever see myself opting for sensible shoes. But that decision may now be driven more by love than fear.
So this is me giving myself and, in turn, you, permission to lower the standards. To give yourself a day off. To forgive yourself for your flaws.
Permission to be imperfect.
Because who knows what else doesn’t really matter?