My daughter and I were out running errands when we stopped into Sephora so she could get a face mask she had been wanting. As we walked among display after display after display of creams and cosmetics and every beauty item one could imagine, I sensed a familiar uneasy feeling.
“This place overwhelms me. All these products are just slightly different versions of each other. The last thing this world needs is another cosmetic or skin care brand. It’s like, hey, I’m going to make the same thing that already exists, but I’m going to put honey in mine.”
My daughter protested my bah-hyaluronic-acid-infused-primer attitude. “I think it’s fun…trying new things.”
“I guess. I think all this stuff just makes me anxious because it’s like an entire store is trying to convince me that what I am or what I have isn’t already good enough.That there is something better out there, and I just haven’t found it yet…”
*New level unlocked.*
Sephora is an unlikely place to have a breakthrough moment. A pleasantly-perfumed place, but unlikely. Then again, I’ve been fertile ground for breakthroughs lately. I have been working with a behavior change coach, and his daily dose of super annoying questions lead me down rabbit holes of self-reflection I’m not sure I’ve ever been brave enough to explore on my own…or even realized were there.
The other day he texted me this quote from Socrates: “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” This can obviously apply to the scourge of consumerism, and most of us likely interpret it in that light. But I was suddenly reading it differently, and also realizing that my Sephora-induced anxiety really had nothing to do with beauty products.
Maybe the reason I sometimes find happiness to be so fleeting is because I’m constantly seeking more from myself instead of nurturing what I deem as less about me.
I’ve become convinced that there is a better version of me out there: one who is more organized, more patient, more on top of things, more productive, more nutrition-conscious, more youthful, more fit, more even-keeled, more confident, more a million other things. And the things that I am, I frame as flaws: cluttered, impatient, procrastinator, all or nothing, lack of control, aging, soft in the middle, emotional, insecure overthinker, and on and on.
But my coach doesn’t believe in flaws. We are simply either conscious or unconscious of how those traits help us or hurt us depending on how we respond to them.
So it isn’t that I should necessarily seek more of something different. I have everything I need; I just have to figure out how to make it work for me. Similar to how I don’t need anything new from Sephora. My current skin care routine and drugstore makeup are working just fine. Also, I’m SUPPOSED to have wrinkles at my age. They show how many times I’ve smiled in my life…and also how many times I’ve had to squint on sunny days because I forgot sunglasses. But that’s not a flaw. It probably just means I was appropriately focused on something more important than sunglasses. Like making sure I was on time. (Let’s go with that.)
But if anyone wants to get me a ridiculously-priced jar of Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream for Christmas…I mean, that sh*t smells good. And I’m just going to say it: smelling bad IS a flaw, and it’s impossible for my nose to be unconscious to that fact.
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Photo credit: “the beauty product dimension” by drspam is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.