18 and Battling to Feel Beautiful, Inside and Out

By Isha

As a young adult, I constantly feel a pendulum of emotions. Today’s emotion is obligation and insecurity over social appearance. I’ve grown in a society where one’s beauty and personality is valued. Thankfully, I’ve been able to see how one doesn’t need a lot of makeup or popularity to be seen as attractive. However, I still feel obliged to do whatever it takes to make myself look even more beautiful. Sadly, I know why I feel like this. I look to the girl next to me, my best friend, the girl who’s always next to me, and see something shining. Something that glows inside of her. Something that makes people want to talk to her and respect her, more so than they do to me. I want to tell myself that she spends time on her appearance and so that’s the reason for her glow. But that only reaffirms to me that I must put in time and money to become physically and socially attractive to people.

I don’t spend time on my hair and makeup. I am way too tired and lazy to do any of that in the morning. I used to enjoy putting on eyeliner every morning and sorting my crazy hair. My middle school self loved the trial and error that came along with discovering myself and my styles. But as school became more difficult and my acne got rougher, I justified to myself that I’d rather get more sleep and focus more on my studies than on my appearance. Now when I look around, I feel that I should use makeup to fill in the gaps of my appearance. I’m not that tall or lean and so some eyeliner and hairspray should make up for that.

I’m not fishing for compliments. I look in the mirror some days and see a glowing and gorgeous person. But today, and some other days, this is how I feel, standing next to someone who turns heads when I barely stand out. I can see that she doesn’t understand why this bothers me so much. Why should I even think about this vs. do what makes me happy? But I’m a philosophical person; someone who attempts self-development by tackling that what bothers me. What bothers me right now is how unhappy I am with how I appear to people, and how this could possibly affect the people I’ll meet and even possibly date. I know I am in way over my head, and slightly naive, to even think of bringing love into this conversation. But sometimes, that’s what it comes down to. Attractiveness and love go hand in hand. From psychology, I learned that someone’s physical characteristics are the first major factor in people’s attraction towards one another. So how can I not help but feel that my goofy, hometown girl self is going to get in the way of what I could’ve been?

Overall, being friends with someone who spends a lot of time, energy, and money on her social appearance has made me feel obliged to do the same, to also be able to turn heads or be viewed as something more than just ‘pretty’. When you spend a lot of time with someone who does just that, it’s not easy to feel another way. I can gladly blow dry my hair to perfection and wing my eyeliner every day, but I know I should only do it if it makes me happy. I shouldn’t have to find faults in my appearance so I can dive into fixing myself.

The problem here is how I compare myself to others. If I want to feel prettier, there are other ways of doing it. One would be seeing how pretty I am naturally. Finding confidence in who I am as an everyday person. And yeah, that person may lack sexiness or a striking glow, but I’m working on that. Maybe one day I’ll turn heads because I’m smiling so much over how good I feel about myself. In the meantime, I’ll keep doing what I do. I’ll try not to nitpick myself. And I won’t feel bad about if I decide to spend some time and energy on myself. It’s all about what makes me happy. A simple concept but hey, we’re all still learning.

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