Some blogs are like journals. As much as I don’t intend for this blog to be completely “Dear Diary, Today I…” in its prose, there are two things that you should know about me to fully understand this post.
Number one: I am a girl.
Number two: A lot to do with number one, I can be self-conscious.
Now here’s where number two and experiential travelling don’t always mix well: When you’re travelling you’re supposed to be free and relaxed and loving life and just enjoying being in the moment.
But when you’re travelling, you’re living out of a suitcase, wearing the same clothes day in and day out, not always making time for that hair ritual, and often ending the day (when travelling in the summer at least) in a sweaty mess that feels as though a heated sauna has suffocated your entire body.
Today I was touring the lovely island of Capri in Italy. It was fairly annoying with the number of tourists, but we found some beautiful hiking trails where we could be alone and take in the beautiful views.
But it was also extraordinarily hot. By the end of the day, I had hat head, was sweating buckets, and felt like I was the complete opposite of ‘a sweet smelling woman.’
And then I looked in the mirror and discovered that under the heat of the UV rays my melasma had poked its lovely head from under my skin to reveal that thing I always try to hide…dark spots all over my skin!
So I started to clam up. I felt ugly and horrible and evidently started not enjoying myself.
And then I realized what I was doing: I was letting my own feelings of being self-conscious ruin my journey that day.
I remember a very similar experience when I was 22. I was on a year abroad programme in Ghana. My skin was hating the African heat (read: major acne!) and my friend’s Swiss Army knife haircut on me left my head essentially looking like a triangle.
I was a mess.
And for 4 days I remember not wanting to come out of my compound. I went to work and then came home. I was so embarrassed and feared that others were looking at me.
How is it that ten years have passed and still, as a woman, I find myself being overcome with the same feelings of self-consciousness?
I know that men, too, face pressures and uncertainties, but I can only speak from my own gender.
So here is my advice to you:
1) When you look in the mirror, look for your beauty. This is true anytime, but especially when travelling. Your makeup will have worn off, your favourite conditioner might have not made it through the airport security…but look in that mirror and look for your beauty.
2) Bring one thing that instantly makes you feel beautiful. I have this Boots’ B&B for lips that adds just a hint of colour and moisture to my lips. Even when I have no other makeup on and my melasma is at its worst, this just cheers me up.
3) Focus on what’s around you. Sometimes you just feel self-conscious. Deciding not to go out isn’t the answer. Instead, focus on what’s around you. Focus on the best parts of the day.
4) Imagine yourself noticing these “horrible traits” on other people. Would you really notice the thing you’re noticing about yourself on someone else? Often the answer is no. As much as I feel that the big brown spot above my lips is horrendous, chances are most people are looking into my eyes when they see me. Remember we are usually our worst critics.
5) And finally, but especially importantly…if you are looking for someone to love, make sure he (or she) thinks you’re beautiful always. Despite my best attempts today at saying how ugly I was with my melasma, my husband Ken kept reminding me that I was the most beautiful girl in the world. If you have someone like this, treasure him/her. If you don’t, don’t settle for anyone who won’t make you feel like a princess when you feel your worst.