Five years ago, I wore makeup every day because I wanted to. My appearance was a creative outlet for me. I didn’t do it because I had to—I loved it. I loved putting together outfits and taking photos and feeling pretty. It was expression and creativity and freedom.
I also weighed 40 lbs less than I do now. I traveled every chance I got. I played music until the sun came up, haunting bars and friends’ garages until the sun came up. I spent summers in California and drove my Honda across the country just because I could. I worked remotely and the only responsibility I had was a little white hedgehog named Talula.
I surrounded myself with magic and I relished every minute of it.
A growth mindset is a bit of a cliche at this point. Culture expects us to constantly be moving forward. This in and of itself is not a bad thing—moving forward is important and we can always be improving ourselves. But it’s okay to appreciate both where we’ve come from and where we’re going. It’s okay to love all versions of yourself, even if you can see her flaws and her brokenness. Even if you can see exactly where she got it wrong.
So, my days don’t look like they looked five years ago. There are no late nights playing music or overseas birthday trips. None of my pretty clothes are appropriate for my actual life (you can’t nurse in 50s vintage dresses), nor do I fit into most of them. It’s easy to miss these memories—to miss that girl.
Today, I delight in a different kind of magic. Instead of putting in hair extensions and doing my makeup, I made lunches and dressed small people who always look more put together than I do. I picked up toys and washed dishes and drove people to school. There isn’t time for the other things anymore, and even if there were, I think I completely forgot how to do them.
I don’t say this out of vanity. Yes, I wish I still fit into those clothes I spent so much time collecting. I wish there weren’t lines on my face. But mostly, I think it’s okay to miss pieces of who we were at different stages of life. Those moments were beautiful and there are adventures and people and places I hope I never forget.
So these days, my creative output looks different. It looks like making lunches in little Bento boxes. It looks like turning my house into a beautiful, usable space for us to grow into. It looks like days where I shop for food and prepare enough food for the week so we eat well. It looks like turning my emotions into books instead of singing songs on stage at a bar. It’s designing Halloween costumes and dreaming up adventures and teaching my kids things I think are important.
My creative output is building a more beautiful, nurturing life around me. And it’s a life I really want to participate in.
So today, my face is bare. My hair is unbrushed. My eyes are adorned tired-from-staying-up-all-night bags instead of false lashes and flawless liner.
The trade off was worth it.