From Surviving to Thriving: My Story
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
Have you ever looked in the mirror and not recognized the person looking back at you?
This happened to me during the extremely stressful last two years of college. I was going through a lot of conflict with my family, anxiety and depression, a tough course load, and two jobs. (read more about that here)
I didn't recognize myself in a literal sense: I had a dry rats nest of hair, dated clothes that smelled like armpit 24/7, and an un-cleansed face slathered in cheap mascara and foundation. I felt doughy, unfashionable, and absolutely beat DOWN.
Contrast that to this:
Growing up, I poured over beauty and fashion: I owned books about vintage fashion, and cut out editorial spreads from Seventeen Magazine. I spent hours designing dresses in my sketch pad, and in high school, planned my outfits out the week, choosing a mood for each day: safari, Eastern, ballet, edgy, feminine, chic, etc. I even flossed twice a day.
In short, I CARED. I cared about my style and I cared about my beauty routine! The loss of both during my crisis was not just about a lack of personal care during depression:
It was about losing energy for my passions, and part of my identity.
Readers, I cannot stress enough that when you are in survival mode, your passions may take a back seat. AND THAT'S OKAY. I had to dedicate all my energy to just waking up and surviving the busyness and stress, that I had nothing left for me at the end of the day.
My fight to survive wasn't wrong. The fact that I had lost track of my passions to get through some tough years wasn't wrong. Sometimes we all need to just get through. But when you're done getting through, it's time to get back on the horse.
Why? Because I matter! And YOU matter! And your PASSIONS matter!
So how did I get back into my passions?
Three things happened: I moved away from the stress of city life, I was done with college, and I was DONE dealing with the family conflict plaguing my mind and heart.
Tucked away in a new small town, and away from all the nonsense, it was time to finally BREATHE.
My "looking in the mirror moment" happened shortly after: I got a professional haircut for the first time in two years. My hairdresser was so kind to me (check out her feed here). She gently brushed out my dry and ratty bun, while calmly talking to me about protein and moisture. I almost teared up as I confessed to the at-home box dye I had been applying to my hair and all the rough shampoos I was using. It was embarrassing, but cathartic.
In that moment I could see the damage that stress had taken on my skin, hair, fashion, and psyche. And you know what I realized? My crisis days were over, and it was time I stopped living in that mindset. It was time to THRIVE!
After that haircut, I have slowly added in more and more elements to my beauty routine to the point where I feel like myself again. I have unapologetically taken more time for my hair in the morning, decided to buy nicer skincare, and invested in some lovely clothing. (There will be upcoming blog posts about beauty and fashion routines: Patience my pretties) This is me now: FINALLY feeling myself.
Readers, this transformation took an entire YEAR after that haircut. Getting back to your passions and reevaluating your identity is no small task! I couldn't have done it without the support of my husband who was excited to see me flourish. He's amazing.
Fam, when you are going through crisis and survival mode, just know that you may drop off some of your personal care and maybe your passions, but THAT'S OKAY. You can always dive back in when life settles down.
For me, it was incredibly distressing to not have a beauty routine, but I know that some women live their whole lives without giving a beauty routine a second thought.
We all have different passions that are at risk during times of stress: maybe you used to have time to read books, but now your mind feels full of cobwebs. Maybe it's that you loved putting together a fabulous meal, but now you're drowning in take-out. Or maybe you're one of those runner-people (LOL go you!) and you've been missing the chance to do a 5k for years now. Whatever your passion is, when you can't foster it, you can find your identity in a state of devastation.
I am the first to say that I know that life needs to come first sometime. So let's all be gracious to one another. You never know if that girl (or guy) is in the middle of survival mode, and that's why they don't work out anymore, or have time for coffee, or why their hair looks ratty. Be nice to them and see if you can help in any way.
And whatever your passion is, just know that it's not gone forever. When life slows down, or you have more time for YOU, you can dive back in. Just like I did.