It just sort of happened. It was vacation time, and there weren’t that many people in the office. That day, the sun was shining, the best of the summer time. And you know how on some days, you’d rather feel a bit more free. Liberated from any external pressure. To simply feel the light touch of the wind on your skin. So I dared. After four years, I dared to not wear make-up at work.
With no make-up on my face, it wasn’t only my imperfections that felt exposed. I felt more vulnerable than ever before at work, unable to hide under any mask. And it has nothing to do with the amount of make-up I usually wear, given the fact that I only put a bit of concealer to hide the effects of the lack of sleep under my eyes, and a tiny bit of mascara to add some color to my blond eyelashes. It is simply reassuring to know that I am completely revealing myself at work, that I can count on some kind of protection between me and my co-workers, my managers, my clients.
However, at the same time, it felt liberating. One thing less on my to-do list. One thing more on my way to developing that authentic and unique self, that seamless self that flows from a morning run to work to yoga and finally back home. Me without make-up is me without any compromise, me without any armour, me fully exposed, out there. The same creative and passionate person from one point to the next, from one area of my life to the next.
In order to survive, we often become chameleons. We change colors, we adapt ourselves to the situation, the environment we evolve in, to the expectations that are imposed to us. We desperately want to fit in, to make sure we don’t create any waves, to be accepted, loved. We blend in.
In some ways, some of us even end up playing roles, the act that we believe is given to us in different situations we get into. I’m not saying we lie by pretending, but I do believe that just like actors, we inspire ourselves from our experience, our personality, to give some texture and color to our character. Me at work is still me, but it’s a variation on my real self, the variation focused on performance, strategy, efficiency. Me at school is still me, but that other variation of myself, that cerebral variation of myself, that wants to please teachers. Me with a large group of people is still me, however only showing the bubbly and fun side of my personality.
When we decide to let go of those variations to create that one, united, unique proposition of our best selves, suddenly things become easier. When we stop playing chameleon, when we let go of all those masks we put on, we free our mind from all those decisions that have to be taken about how we should be acting in that context, what part of ourselves we should show, what other part we should hide. We finally can focus on more important projects, we have the space to take better decisions. When we dare to strip naked, our lives become simpler, real, and authentic. We allow ourselves to develop that intimate connection not only with the precious few loved ones, but also with the rest of the world. Because really, there is nothing to hide, nothing to be afraid of.
Let down the guards, open your heart, and reveal your true self.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”- Steve Jobs