Lipstick Saved My Life

“You don’t have to wear makeup, you know.”

I know the comment coming from my boyfriend meant no harm, but I couldn’t help but take offense. I do need to wear makeup. Not to cover up imperfections or to hide blemishes, but to feel sane.

Growing up I barely ever wore makeup. There was the occasional heavy eyeliner in middle school and the mascara in high-school, but that was it. At my junior year prom, I didn’t even wear makeup. To be completely honest, it didn’t even cross my mind to apply it. I felt fine without it and, thankfully, my mom and boyfriend were completely supportive.

Makeup was never really a big deal in my house growing up, either. My mom barely wore any and showed me from a young age that appearance isn’t the most important thing in life. I can’t begin to thank her enough for allowing me feel confident in my own skin.

Even throughout my four years away, I barely wore makeup. While everyone was spending hours getting ready for a night out, I was throwing on some light foundation and mascara and having a dance party while I waited for everyone else. But that all changed when I graduated college.

Looking back, I should have known all along that I have anxiety. Little things, like the first day of school or driving to somewhere I have never been, effect me way differently than anyone else. But, oddly enough, it wasn’t until I came home from college that the anxiety caught up to me.

Days went by that I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was staying in the same clothes for days at a time. I would even pass on hanging out with my boyfriend because I just didn’t have the energy. Then I came across beauty tutorials on YouTube.

I loved the way the makeup gurus made makeup into an art. Even more than that, it was relaxing. I found myself watching the tutorials more and more. Before I knew it, I was trying to mimic their techniques. Watching the videos as I got ready was something I actually looked forward to in the morning.

This is the part where I tell you I made my own channel and instantly got millions of views and subscribers. NOT. I definitely wasn’t the most talented at makeup application, but it was an escape. Something that made me feel calm and lose myself for a little while. Before the day started and the stress kicked in, I got a little me-time to reset and not worry about what I couldn’t control.

For me, it wasn’t about the makeup or the way I looked, it was about being able to detach from the hectic world for a while. There is nothing better to someone that has anxiety than giving them a chance to stop thinking [read: worrying] for a while.

That’s partly why you’ll always find a lip product in my purse. Some people carry worry stones, I carry my little colorful bullet-shaped tube. It makes me invincible. Whether it’s a chapstick, classic cream lippie, or a lip gloss, it’s something that I always have to calm my nerves.

My editor at Bustle wrote a beautiful ode to lipstick, which was what had my thinking about my own beauty routine. [Seriously, go check it out, it’s incredible.] I guess I had always known that my makeup and anxiety had their own relationship, but it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. That what I’m experiencing isn’t wrong or weird. That my prescription doesn’t need to come from a doctor — it can come from Sephora instead.

This is not meant to undermine anxiety in any way. Everyone’s anxiety has different levels and no one’s tipping point is exactly the same. All I’m saying is that this little thing helps me. It’s not a long-term fix or something that will work for everyone, but I encourage everyone who is suffering through this mental illness to find a small task that makes them feel good. And keep doing it — no matter what anyone says.

So, no, I don’t have to wear makeup everyday. But it’s not something that I do for anyone else accept myself. When I stand in the mirror I gain more than just rosy cheeks and peachy lips. I get a little more confidence and a stress-reliever that I can take with me all day long. That’s well worth the $15 lipstick tube.

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