What is “it,” anyway?
Where is this magical land of self-actualization and complete fulfillment where our “highest self” resides?
I wish there was a shortcut.
I’ve always had an internal push to do: more, better, faster. It usually sounds like: If I’m not working harder than everyone else, am I even really working? What is a “break”?
I want people to take my work (and me) seriously.
That was especially true when I became a makeup artist for an international brand. I was surrounded by people who (I thought) knew way more about this stuff than I did—seriously, your girl has never worn much makeup. I owned a single concealer as a teenager to cover breakouts, and it definitely didn’t match my pale, freckled complexion.
I was attracted to the elegance of the company and excited by the possibility of transformation, both for myself and the clients I’d work with. I got to develop and manage my own business; I was finally (relatively) independent.
But no sooner than I began, I panicked. I thought: I have to do this perfectly, know each ingredient in every product, do makeup like a YouTube star, and be completely fun and magnetic while I do all of these things. That way, everyone will know I’m a “real” makeup artist.
I tried faking it for a while, but the stress of these expectations caused me to crumble—literally. I started having panic attacks, and trying to pretend it wasn’t happening just made them worse. I was terrified to admit that my mental health was taking a toll on my work, but I couldn’t face my clients without dissociating or fighting back tears.
Finally, I had to tell someone.
My team was completely understanding and supportive. Without their affirmation, I would’ve never had my breakthrough.
In a moment of intense self-doubt, I wondered: If I didn’t know everything about makeup and skincare, how did I get this job in the first place? What if it had nothing to do with knowing all the answers? What if my clients didn’t care?
And they didn’t. In fact, once I stopped focusing on what I should be doing, I made space for the clients who loved exactly where I was at.
They found my approach refreshing. I was honest about the fact that I was new to this and wanted to learn from them. Makeup and skincare was intimidating for them too, but I made it accessible—a source of play and experimentation.
More importantly, I was holding space for them: to focus on themselves, to be honest about their own self-doubt, and to assure them that they were worthy of care and attention, in this moment.
That desire to hold space and empower the people I am around? I had that all along. I didn’t need to fake it.