Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

It’s a silly thing, really. I’m not usually the type of person who gets excited about this sort of thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, and I certainly don’t want to come across as some sort of a condescending jerk. If it’s your thing? All the joy to ya.

I don’t get worked up about things like fashion, make-up, or hairstyles. I don’t understand the appeal. My fashion sense can be summed up as comfort and making sure all the necessary bits are covered. I almost exclusively wear a baggy sweatshirt and black workout pants. I shake it up with sandals, runners (sneakers) or hiking boots.

I can’t remember the last time I wore a dress— a friend’s wedding, I think— and high heels are a firm no-go. Actually, I look stupid in heels. When I wear them, I feel ridiculous. I’m so short they make me look like a desperate poser.

Photo by Otavio from Pexels

Also, I’m the clumsiest person you’ll ever meet. I can barely walk a straight line barefoot. Strap me into a pair of stilts and expect forward momentum? Ha! That’s right, I ha’d. I look like a drunk penguin in a travelling circus. Sure, it’s good for a few giggles until everything comes crashing down. I mean everything: Tent, chandelier, the tight rope walkers, and don’t forget about the clowns in the car.

For your safety and my sanity, I stick with flat, comfortable shoes. 

Writing a post about anything related to the beauty world is drastically outside of my wheelhouse. It’s so far out of leftfield that it’s in another postal code (Zip code, if you prefer). It might even be in another country or a completely different solar system.

It’s not my thing. I don’t know anything about it. Please don’t come to me for advice. If you’re comfortable and feel good about yourself? Well, my friend, you look gorgeous to me.

I should stick to my lane, eh? Mental health and mental illness content with a dash of chronic illness to round it all out. Despite my lack of fashion sense and the ability to give two shakes of my gimpy leg, there’s a connection here, I promise. 

There’s a simple truth that I have to begrudgingly acknowledge. The outside often reflects the inside, and recently that has become very true for me. My dubious fashion sense aside, I’ve been looking quite ragged. If we were walking in the woods and you mistook me for a baby Sasquatch, you wouldn’t be far off. I let my curly hair grow obscenely long until the slightest breeze tangled it up into ratty, tatty knots. Add the limp and few grunts of pain? 

Photo by Gratisography from Pexels

Yep, I’m a mythical creature walking the streets of Vancouver. 

In my defence, this pandoodle— I know, just go with it— has required certain sacrifices. Hairs cuts and other personal grooming measures aren’t essential services for someone with a compromised immune system. I couldn’t even go to the grocery store, for goodness sake. There was no way I could go to a hairdresser for a cut and blow-dry.

I know, such a hardship. How did I survive? You don’t have to call me a hero, but it’s nice to be acknowledged. No, please, hold your applause and resist the urge to gag or roll your eyes at the blatant sarcasm.

It wasn’t a big deal, and out of everything we’ve had to give up, this doesn’t rank very high. It doesn’t for me anyway because, again, it’s not something I care about. For most of the year and a bit, it didn’t bother me at all. Sure, I looked like a Neanderthal who’d just been unfrozen and thrown into a modern society, but who cares? We’re all too busy playing keep away from a microscopic bully.

Then I got some new teammates to help me win this game. The third vaccine just went into my arm so, we’re off to the races. I can go outside a little more often. I can cautiously rejoin society and engage in simple human interactions. Good mornings, afternoons, and nods of greeting as we pass are coming back. Chit chat is once again a thing, and I’m not sure how I feel about it, but it’s nice to see people again.

Photo by Elina Krima from Pexels

Oh dear, people can see me too. 

And just like that, I realized that I don’t really feel human anymore. I feel like I’ve been living in a cave that’s been frozen over for a few centuries. Archeologists recently excavated my habitat and freed me from my icy prison. Now I have to go out into a world that feels so overwhelmingly vibrant, noisy and I have to be a person.

Well crap, this is going to be problematic. 

I’m a socially awkward person at the best of times. I’ve been a weirdo long before the ice age held me captive. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I’m a little off, but not in a creepy way. At least, I hope that’s what they’ll say.

But now? I’m the love child of a woolly mammoth and a caveman. I’ve been in hibernation. The world became a kaleidoscope of beauty and mayhem. How can I be a person in this day and age?

By getting a haircut and partaking in other personal grooming measures? It sounds silly, and it totally is. For someone like me who cares very little about personal appearance, it sounds absurd. I don’t care about your looks or my own. If you’re kind, compassionate, and love to laugh? Well, that makes you a beautiful person.

Perhaps it’s the simple act of being kind to myself that made the difference? 

Messy hair, baggy clothes, or high-end fashion? None of those things count for very much in my book, but my book might be full of spelling and grammatical errors. It’s sandwiched between bargain books and satire. There are a lot of pictures, few words, and a torn cover. Take it for what it’s worth.

I think I’ve driven home the point that this is way out of character for me. Putting stock in the superficial and letting it worm its way into my internal mechanisms? It’s not my norm, but sometimes it’s good to challenge our comfort levels just a little bit.

Now that I’m fully vaccinated plus the booster, I feel a little more comfortable going to a salon. Masks are mandatory, and my hairdresser is very cautious. She only lets one client in at a time, and she’s a fanatic about cleanliness. She made the whole process as safe as possible, and I appreciate her efforts.

Especially given how much time it takes to cut my hair. I have a lot of it. Comparing myself to the sasquatch and the woolly mammoth isn’t an exaggeration. It’s even worse after nearly two years of letting it grow wild and untamed. It took way too much of her time to hack the mythical out of me and return me to my natural human form.

Thank you for your hard work, Marina.

My hair had grown down to my posterior, and now it’s just above my shoulders. It’s been thinned out a bit, and my curls are coming back in full force, which I love. I adore my curls. They’re messy, unruly, and a tad bit sassy. 

Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels

I can’t stop shaking my head and running my hands through my hair. It feels so good! I feel good about myself. I didn’t realize how much the outside was affecting the inside. It’s all connected, isn’t it? How we treat our bodies is reflected in our minds-eye.

On the flip side, how we feel about ourselves shows up in the way we treat ourselves. The last three, four months have been difficult for me. The stress has taken a toll, and I’ve let a lot of my self-care routines fall away. I haven’t been eating right, drinking enough water, or exercising as much as I need and want to. 

I’ve fallen into the mindset of: What does it matter? Nothing matters. I don’t feel good. I don’t want to. I’m just gonna switch off and zone out. I’m going to ignore everything that will help me feel better. Worse, I’m going to do the things that will ultimately make me feel worse.

Super healthy, I know, but put it all together? Is it any wonder that I look and feel more ragged? 

I know that I needed to make a change and take better care of myself. It isn’t a shocking revelation. I’ve wanted to do it for ages, but I haven’t had the kick in the butt. It’s silly and self-destructive. I’m prolonging the agony, and the solution is doable. I just needed a shove.

Then last week, my mom booked a haircut for herself, and she needed a ride. Well,  I’m going to be there so, why the hell not? Let’s cut the mangy rag off my head. I didn’t for a second think it would have any kind of effect on me, but it did. 

The hair fell to the floor, and my head felt lighter. My eyebrows were cleaned up, and look at that, I have two of them again. When it was all done, I felt like a person again. I felt human and not some wild thing out of time or place.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

Look Ma, I’m a real girl!

Is that a weird thing to say? Do you know that feeling? How can something so simple have such a profound impact on my mental health?

Perhaps it’s the simple act of being kind to myself that made the difference? I’m all about treating others with compassion, and I firmly believe that choosing kindness is always the right choice. I strive for consideration and empathy with everyone.

Everyone except myself.

When I look in the mirror, I’m critical, judgemental, and overbearing. I beat myself up when I make a simple mistake. When I have the choice to be kind or cruel? I rarely choose the former. When it comes to critical comments from others? They don’t often affect me because I’ve said much worse to myself.

I think that’s why this one simple act of self-compassion had such a profound impact. I saw myself as a person and not a target of scorn and self-ridicule. I chose kindness. I let myself be happy and shake my curly hair because, damn it, it feels good.

I took this in White Rock, BC, Canada

I need to be kinder to myself more often, and I’m slowly taking steps to do that. I’m working out again. I met up with a friend, and we took our cameras to a beach. We did an afternoon of shooting, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed doing that.

It’s a process and not perfection so, it doesn’t always work out. But I’m trying to be kinder to myself. It makes me happy, and it’s okay to let myself be happy. Such a shocking revelation, isn’t it?

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