Starting to grey in my late 40s, I actually thought the newly sprung silver that was streaking through my dark locks looked rather cool. Then a colleague, proud of her own frankness, pointed them out like gum on pavement. Socially shamed, I banished all traces.
In the physical world, our sense of self is naturally influenced by how others assess us – our appearance, intelligence, talent, everything. Unhelpfully, these judgements are often nothing more than the projected insecurities of those struggling with their own perceived inadequacies. So, it’s a vicious circle.
Now that human interactions have gone from the physical to virtual world, you’d think this circle would have just become even more vicious. After all, pre-covid, social media had been a primer for insecurities. However, the opposite seems to be happening.
We are all struggling, all just doing our best to cope. Our FOMO is now a communal SOMO – Sadness Of Missing Out. To buoy ourselves and others, we’re spending screen time applauding efforts to keep sane. Tiktok dad-dancing posts, Insta amateur art galleries, off key Zoom-alongs. Free from fear of ridicule, in this rare moment in time, people have the social permission to explore boundaries and be their authentic selves. And, they are being appreciated for it. Boom, a virtuous circle is born.
While we tend to be our harshest critics, perhaps this is more a coping mechanism than honest assessment. Do we simply rush to judge ourselves in advance of others, falsely believing this will lessen the sting? Now, having lived these months in our own bubbles and communicating via more forgiving online channels, we seem to have the safety to risk being our true selves – our best selves.
Is that true for you? Are you coming face to face with your own authentic self and (yes you can admit it), liking what you see? Wondering if you’ll be able to carry it through once you pop your bubble and re-join the physical world?
If so, you won’t be alone. Here are five real life examples. Relate to any?
1. Jill is not known for her voice. For VE Remembrance Day, she was coaxed into singing a rendition of We'll Meet Again from her front garden to her neighbours. Her husband recorded it, capturing the street’s rapturous applause, and posted it on Facebook. With the ‘Likes’ pouring in, and having thoroughly enjoyed the experience, she’s since begun online singing lessons and plans to join a local choir.
2. Penny is not overweight but, motivated more by how she looked than how she felt, has always struggled with it. Health now a main driver, she’s educating herself on nutrition and exercise and how they impact mind and body. Acting on what she is learning, and inspired by feeling so much better, she is changing unhealthy habits and looking forward to emerging from lockdown all the more gorgeous for it.
3. Kelise used to love painting. Always comparing her work to that which she believed to be better, however, she abandoned her brushes for more than a decade. Furloughed from her job in retail, she started doodling to ease her nerves. Finding exciting shapes made vivid with colour, she’s now working on soft furnishing designs she hopes to produce and turn into a viable business.
4. Eliza is a wiz with make-up. The trouble is, she’s felt she could not be seen without at least an hour’s worth of application. Alone in her bubble, she’s started to get used to her fresh face, to the point where she actually had a video call with only minimal make-up applied. No mention of her more natural look, just a simple ‘so lovely to see you!’ has made Eliza eager to try this on the real world post lockdown.
5. Gemma has, her whole life, forced her coily hair straight. Even with the ‘natural’ movement embracing curls and coils, she was too committed to this look to change. Then came lockdown. Tired of breakage and damage, and with space to explore the new, she has started her natural journey and is excited about where it will take her hair and sense of self.
As for me, I’m now rocking some major grey roots. Not because I’m waiting for salons to re-open – I have two boxes of L’Oréal #4 plus a back-up compact of Color WOW sitting in my bathroom. It’s simply that, for the time being, I’m liking the look and there’s no one in my bubble to tell me otherwise (the survival instincts of my husband and children are obviously well developed).
Living in isolation has been tough for all of us. However, if living in our bubbles has allowed us to become our own champions rather than critics, our re-entry into the world when the time comes will be truly liberating.
What best-you bits are brewing in your bubble that you hope to carry into the outside world? Let us know @myrevair_uk. We’d love to hear your story!