I think that as people, we have the tendency to doubt our own excellence. Our whole lives, our whole society in fact, is constructed around this. Media does not support a positive self-image— even those of us who are rail-skinny (coughmecough) don’t seem to fit the ideal. The economy seems to be doing nothing more successfully than stripping us of value— in our bank accounts, in our careers, in our own sense of accomplishment and self-worth. And the overabundance of social media and distractions are robbing our face to face relationships of meaningful connection. Just think, honestly— how long could you last in a blackout?

The most insidious of all of these is the blow to our individual and collective self-esteem. As the FlyLady Marla Cilley writes, it’s difficult enough to hold yourself to an unrealistic standard imposed on you by others without adding your own perfectionism to the soup. Really, isn’t that the trouble, when looked at from a wider lens? We are never happy because we are never perfect.

Like many of you, money has been a struggle and a source of worry in my home over the last year. To help alleviate this, I began searching for bartending and waitressing jobs. This was work that I have been fully qualified to do since I was eighteen, and yet, with MORE experience under my belt, I can’t find a job.

My husband and two friends of mine shared some insight— while I had more experience, I was not the person that I was at eighteen. I dressed differently, carried myself with more dignity, expected more from my life. Their comments forced me to consider my beliefs in a different light. Of course, I thought that if I wasn’t getting hired, it was because I was defective. I thought that maybe I wasn’t attractive enough anymore to work in that environment. Truth is, I had just grown up. Wasn’t that exactly what I wanted?

Of course it was—until I began comparing myself to a different standard.

The insidiousness of perfectionism is that there isn’t an ideal or a “right path” to follow. You make up something in your head based on what you think someone else has and then you beat yourself up for not having it. It’s probably much more desirable to be seen as competent than sexy, and honestly, I am both competent and sexy. Until I start letting people who don’t know me determine my worth.

I realized that part, if not all, of my challenges with my personal appearance come from not appreciating what it is that I DO have. I have not been dressing for MY body—instead, I have been dressing for the body that I wish I had. I haven’t been pursuing what I love— I have been trying to find success by chasing someone else’s dreams.

What has made me sexy over the years has been my cheesiest quality— my passion and excitement, and as a result, my confidence and happiness. It is absolutely the most attractive and important thing about anyone. We define who we are based on what we do. “I’m a writer. I’m a yoga teacher. I love to sing. I speak Elvish.” It makes sense, then, that what we do on a day to day basis is of the utmost importance.

How do we carve out time, then, for the things that make us attractive, even when we feel we have no time?

  1. Feel beautiful. Wear clothes that fit and are flattering. Wash your face, do your hair. Get your nails done— if you like that stuff. I know I can’t make eye contact with people when my eyebrows aren’t done.
  2. Reduce guilt. Do what you say you’re going to do. Procrastination and the guilt and worry that arise from it are not attractive. If it can be done in less than one minute, do it then.
  3. Make time for yourself. No one else will make you more important than you make you, and no one will take you more seriously than you take yourself. And seriously (I can’t say this emphatically enough) DON’T BE A %$^#!^#@ MARTYR. Martyrs suck and they get killed. No one cares how long it’s been since you had “any time to yourself.” Take it! Take time! Arghh!

This list is just as much to remind me as it is to (hopefully) help you. So any pointers? What makes you feel beautiful and whole?