To be blunt, I didn’t feel pretty at all this week and the last thing I wanted was photographic evidence of each day. It was one of those weeks. I don’t know what brings it on. My brain recognizes that I look exactly the same as last week, but my emotions seem to be taking snapshots and then applying a filter called Hideous. Most of the time, my face doesn’t bother me, my hair doesn’t bother me, my body shape doesn’t bother me. Hardly anything bothers me. Then a week will come along and everything bothers me.
I recognize that I’m blessed – most of the time, I do feel pretty. A lot of women wish they felt pretty most of the time, but they don’t. Their emotions have the Hideous filter as the default setting. If that is the case for anybody reading this, let me tell you this: you are more beautiful than you think you are. I guarantee it.
One thing I noticed this week was that I started getting defensive about other attributes, maybe in subconscious fear that I would start losing them as well. “Well, at least I’m good at my job.” “Well, at least I can sing.” “Well, at least I can draw.” These things are real blessings. Doing my job and singing songs and drawing made me happy this week. The problem was the attitude I had toward the. The attitude actually made them less happy, because I felt like I needed them. The bad part was the “Well, at least…” part. The unspoken (but implied) beginning of the thought was “Well, [I’M NOT PRETTY, BUT] at least….”
I have a pep talk I give myself in moments like this: “STOP IT, ASHLEY.” That’s the whole speech. And then I pray. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat as many times as it happens. Don’t let it get normal. Don’t let it get deep inside of you. Don’t let your emotions dictate your actions.
Here’s a good test to see if your perspective is warped – how do you handle input from other people? How do you handle compliments? If your feelings have taken over, you can’t accept input. There isn’t room for another opinion. Don’t dismiss other people’s opinions. If somebody tells you that you look nice, don’t assume they are lying. If you have trustworthy people around you, why would they suddenly become liars when they talk about you? If you assume every compliment that comes your way is a lie, then your perspective is warped. Don’t turn your family and friends into liars. What if they try to tell you something important and you have gotten into the habit of dismissing what they say? The issue is not whether or not you feel pretty. It’s how you handle your emotions.
There’s also the problem of appearance vs. reality. I can come across as confident and easy breezy, but I’ve gotten pretty good at projecting it even when I’m not feeling it. I’ve been posting pictures all week that I see no beauty in, but nobody else notices a change. To be completely honest, I post pictures throughout the week to keep myself accountable to actually write this weekly blog post. Writing is really hard for me. Staying disciplined and consistent is REALLY hard for me. This blog combines both of those things. I want to quit every week. But I know it’s a good thing and I’ve been deeply humbled by everybody’s responses to it. I’m grateful for all of you – everybody who asks what I’m doing for Ashley Tries this week, everybody who trusts me to tackle a specific fashion problem, everybody who asks advice. Thanks for trusting me to write this thing – you trust me more than I trust me. Pretty sure it’s been a year since I started and YAY I HAVEN’T QUIT. That’s pretty darn exciting to me.
Phew. Keeping secrets is my default. Telling them to the Interwebs? Yet another thing I’m uncomfortable with. But what’s the use of having a bad week if I don’t use it to help encourage other people who are having rough weeks? I want to help. If you need advice or encouragement, message me and I’ll try to help best I can.
This week was all about choosing things that made me happy, since I was fighting the blues. I like this shirt – it is soft, has some cool design details, and best of all – it isn’t sheer! I don’t like shirts that I need to wear another shirt under. It’s summer! I can’t go around wearing two shirts all the time! A pair of comfy jeans.
A couple new things in this outfit! New shoes that I am breaking in for a trip in September. I’m really pleased with them – they are comfortable, good quality, and pretty enough to transition between walking all day and going to restaurant at night. The other new thing is trying out a patterned headscarf. I like this one – the burgundy base color blends in with my hair a little bit and the abstract print looks good even when it’s all scrunched up. It’s great for those days when you wake up feeling like a bird must have nested in your hair during the night, and that’s exactly how I felt that day, so it was convenient.
This is the other pair of shoes I’m breaking in for my trip and they are 95% great, but they rub at one very specific point on each foot, so they drew first blood around the end of the work day. Everything else about them is great, so I’ll just buy a couple of those little gel pads, put them over the tiny blood stains, then I’m good to go. Ha.
It was a hot day, so I just put on a loose dress and headed out the door. I love a swingy dress during the summer, because everything that has direct contact with my skin gets sweaty. This dress doesn’t end the day with a spreading sweat patch in the lower back, so it’s kind of a winner. It’s comfy and it has great texture and color – what’s not to love?
Over lunch, I sat and sketched. If there are two things that can get me out of myself and my own thoughts, it’s singing and sketching. I’ve been sketching women and clothes since I was four or so. The earliest drawings I remember doing are a queen wearing cowboy boots and a glamorous lady with hair over one eye (because when I was little, glamour = a beautiful woman with blond hair over one eye). I didn’t know who Veronica Lake was at that point, but it was very Veronica Lake. These sketches aren’t like the rest of my art – they aren’t really based on anything and they are all different. They are littered all over my room and scattered through my life and I don’t even think about them, but I’m really grateful for them. Art helped me out of my funk this week.
Another great thing happened to me on Tuesday – I learned how to do eyeshadow. Last week, my friend Lizze (who is a rep for Mary Kay) came up and asked me if I wanted to learn how to do makeup, since a substantial subplot of this blog is that I can’t do makeup or hair.
So on Tuesday, we met up and she patiently took me through how to put eyeshadow on my face and how to make it stay on my face. Shout out to Lizze, because I was comically ignorant to basic makeup techniques (what’s primer? but how do you use an eyebrow comb? is the eyeshadow symmetrical now?). I kept freaking out about how dark the eyeshadow was and then it turned out looking completely fine. It was great to learn something new. I’ve been putting eyeshadow the same way for years and it’s the way I saw on the back of an eyeshadow package. As it turns out, the way I’ve been doing it just made my eyeshadow disappear, because I put the darkest color only on the crease and when I opened my eyes, it vanished.
The biggest takeaways for me: Don’t freak out about how dark the eyeshadow looks right when you’re putting it on. You are very close to the mirror and it looks more dramatic than it actually is, and once you put on mascara and step back from the mirror, the look will come together. (Put on mascara and step away from the mirror is probably good advice for all of life, really….) Application tips for those of us with hooded eyes / monolids – put on your eyeshadow with your eyes open and put the brightest color above the crease. That way, you can see what the finished product will look like and the crease won’t eat your pretty shadow. Highlights go right under the eyebrow and right above the eyelashes. Voila! This is how it turned out. (Thanks, Lizze!)
It was so great to learn more about makeup. I should have somebody teach me how to do my own hair. *gasp*
This was my “I’m going to try to apply what I learned yesterday in the presence of a professional makeup artist and try to make it work in my real life with my actual makeup”. It went pretty well, considering. Eye makeup? CHECK.
Flip flops (because I had blisters from the day before), jeans, a bright pink tee. To add a little bit of visual interest and elevate the outfit a bit, I layered a white lace shirt over the top. That way I had glimpses of bright pink, but I wasn’t all pink. It would have been a lot (especially with bright purple eyeshadow). I went for bright colors, because the blues just kept coming this week and I needed to keep fighting them.
I needed to keep on pushing and keep on trying this week, because I woke up every morning ready to give up. THE DAY HADN’T EVEN STARTED YET. That’s unacceptable. I needed an extra challenge by Thursday and something else to think about, so I chose a skirt that I find challenging to wear. It’s a pleated navy-and-cream J. Crew number that was a steal at $10, but it’s a little fancy/fussy. Paired it with a floral top that went with (but didn’t match) the navy in the skirt.
Did the eyeshadows fairly successfully. Hurrah!
Wore the first pair of shoes again, because blisters ain’t the boss of me. These shoes are proving to be very versatile. Hurrah!
Did some art on Thursday night and it turned out so much better than I had hoped! Used oil pastels to draw the cover of The Little Prince on black paper and I thought about stopping at the black and white stage, because I was afraid of messing up a perfectly good concept with colors. But I’m really glad I added in the colors. Art is good for me. It’s an area where I know I have to push myself and if I mess up, there’s always another piece of paper. Messing up is part of it and it isn’t permanent. Keep pushing until it’s done. Don’t stop halfway through.
By Friday, I was so ready to be done with the week. So tired of my hair, my face, my body, my little blistered feet. But I had things to do, places to be. Got out of bed. Pulled out a dress that I used to wear all the time, but haven’t worn in a while (mainly because there’s a big old stain on the front). I positioned the belt over the stain and zoomed to work. This has been a really big week at work, which has been a hard blessing. I obviously needed to be pushed to my limit this week. Beyond my limit. Beyond the safe black and white sketch, into the risk and beauty of bright colors. Beyond how I feel, into what I believe.
These weeks come. They are hard and humbling. But you know the most amazing part? God loves me no matter what I’m feeling. He is all my beauty. Any good that comes from me comes from Him. He doesn’t change and He doesn’t have bad days and He doesn’t quit and He doesn’t give up halfway through. He’s not going to stop drawing me while I’m still in the sketch phase – at the end of my life, every corner of the canvas will be complete. He has written me a story that Shakespeare wishes he could have written. So are my emotions in charge? No. They’re not.