Hi Auntie Sparknotes!
I could really use your advice. Please don't judge me too harshly because this is going to sound really bad. I'm incredibly vain.
I'm a really suckish person and I compensate for my lack of personality by wearing pounds of makeup. I hate it. I hate looking like some stupid Barbie type face. It's not even like I'm really pretty and wear makeup for boys' attention. I just really hate myself and this is at least something that I can control. Kind of. The thing is, I also have bad skin which means that foundation and skin products are an unpredictable time variable everytime I get ready. I don't mean to wear so much, it's just that I get started with basic cover-up and as I go I try to cover every little flaw and by the end of the process 30 minutes has passed and I look like an airbrushed airhead.
It's not like I look at other people and judge them on their appearances. Heck, I don't even really care about mine, I wear sweatpants almost everyday and hardly ever touch my hair. It's just makeup. It's starting to interfere with my life because I'm always late and always stopping in bathrooms to touch up and it's RIDICULOUS! It's not even a body image thing- I just want control over something about me and this is kinda the easiest thing to latch onto. I hate how much makeup I wear, I wish I had the confidence to go bare-faced out in public. But I don't and I can't and that's why I'm writing you. I don't want to "gain confidence" and "accept myself" because truth be told I don't deserve to. I'm really a horrible person so I shouldn't accept who I am, it'd be twisted. That's like loving the bad guy by principle because he's the lead in the show. I just want to stop taking out my frustrations with who I am on my appearance because its making me hate myself more!
Alright, Sparkler, here's the deal. Before you do anything else, anything at all, I want you to just go ahead, go to your mirror, and put on however much makeup you feel you need to comfortably leave the house. Okay? Lay it on with a freakin' trowel if you need to. I don't care. Because you're right: this goes way, way beyond appearance-related anxiety, and the urge to spackle your face is the least of your worries. So if doing what comes next requires false eyelashes, liquid liner, and eight different kinds of powder, then whatever, just do it.
And what comes next, in the following order, is this:
1. Go to school.
2. Find your way to the office of whomever is in charge of these things, and,
3. Sign up for at least two days per week of any type of community service, whatever most tickles your fancy.
Because whether or not you're the world's one biggest human source of Suck, one thing is clear from your letter: you really, really, really need to get out of your own head and stop wallowing in all your inadequacies—real or imagined.
And while there are plenty of ways to achieve that, the easiest, fastest, bestest way to do it is to get busy doing good things for people who aren't you. Nothing else works so well to refocus your attention beyond the tip of your own nose. And whether your aforementioned lack of personality is a real, actual thing or just a hallucination resulting from your shockingly low self-esteem, it's pretty much impossible to maintain an ongoing mantra of self-loathing when you're busy volunteering at a nursing home, walking dogs from a shelter, stocking the shelves at a soup kitchen, or planting trees. (Bonus: April 22nd is Earth Day, so there should be no shortage of readily-available opportunities for you to get started on your twice-weekly commitment to doing something altruistic and community-revitalizing.)
Do this, Sparkler, and I promise you, your life will become fuller, richer, and better—not just on the outside, but on the inside, too.
And if this doesn't seem like enough—if it just seems like a superficial, surface-level fix for a problem that runs deep—then consider this: there is, in fact, no practical difference between a person who is inherently good and worthwhile, and a vain, dull, self-centered person who nevertheless spends her time in good and worthwhile ways. It's the footprints you leave on the world that matter, not the state of mind you were in when you made them. And when remaking yourself from the inside out seems too daunting—when you don't know how to change who you are, or don't know if you can—then it works just as well to flip the process on its head: by changing the way you spend your time, and letting the effects seep inward.
Have you ever made a little change that made a big difference? Share your story in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
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