I used to feel these things in my twenties. I used to feel alive and vivacious and energized by an inner fire inside of me. But I’ll be honest cause that’s how I roll.
I lost those perceptions of myself in my thirties and my forties.
I stopped wanting to be in photos on Christmas Day. And I stopped wanting photos of myself to document my birthdays. I don’t have digital or printed photos of myself for many of my birthdays from age 30-50. Putting this in writing is super tough to see. It’s right there in black and white before my eyes. Twenty years of my life! TWENTY! That honestly makes me so sad now, because that was a choice. How I wish I could go back and do things differently. But at the time, I was just getting by and doing the best I could. I was sleep-deprived as I was raising my three beautiful babies, I was managing life as a military spouse, I was handling family medical diagnoses left and right, I was dealing with tremendous grief in my life over the deaths that were happening in my family and then I began drowning in subsequent guilt for not living near family as we all grieved together. I cried on almost every birthday between the ages of 40-50. I cried for the loss in my life and I cried for the loss of myself.
I joined Facebook in 2009. I was in my 40’s and my decade of grief had just begun. I was hiding under baseball hats, wearing a lot of black, hiding behind sunglasses and just doing the best I could. I wasn’t interested one bit in sharing a photo of myself on Facebook for the world to judge. I didn’t want others to take photos of me, share photos of me or tag photos of me… it all made me so uncomfortable and self-conscious and inadequate in many ways.
Somewhere around the age of 50, I started finding myself again.
I started a makeup business and started caring less about what others thought. I started worrying less about trying to be everything to everyone ELSE and focused more on being the woman I needed to be for ME. I started caring more about how I felt – on the inside and out. I changed my hair. I changed my makeup. I started playing with makeup again. I dove into a passion I once loved as a young girl. I started being creative and motivated and excited about something again. I started teaching myself how to take selfies. This is was pivotal for me!
The act of taking photos – and moreover the act of SHARING those photos on social media – gave me a new lens through which to view myself. At first, it took me 200 photos to find one that I could tolerate. TOLERATE. I use this loaded word because it was a “toleration” of sorts for me. I didn’t feel comfortable looking at my own photos and I worried how I would be judged by friends and family if I put these photos of myself on social media. Would they think I was vain?
Would they critique my face and flaws as I had done to myself for decades?
Would they immediately think I needed to lose 10 or 20 pounds? Would they unfriend me? But I kept moving and didn’t let that stop me.
I found ways to take photos of myself. And then I began to feel better about myself. New hairstyles… new lipstick… new eye looks… it all added to my journey of helping to find my inner beauty again. I stayed consistent and kept trying to find different ways to grab better selfies. Before long, I was able to get away with only needing 50 photos to find one I liked. Then I could take 25 and find one I liked. My makeup skills improved… and so did my selfies! It was amazing to see how improvements on my outer appearance had such a direct link and correlation to how I felt on the inside!
I started looking at angles and symmetry (or lack thereof) on my face as I tried to get better. I worked to update my makeup. I found tricks to take selfies so that my eyes looked straight (because usually they didn’t) and I finally began to embrace my brown Romanian eyes that I inherited from my father and my Romanian grandmother. Do you think we look alike?
This transformation that I’ve experienced… this journey to happiness that I’ve found again… it all started with little baby steps. New mascara. New lipstick. New eyeshadow. Highlights in my hair. Letting go of bangs that I hid behind for 30 years. Selfies. Lots and lots of selfies. Thousands of selfies over 1-2 years. All of this. It may have started on the outside. But now it’s part of who I am on the inside. What you feel in your heart… what you feel in your soul… it feeds your mind and your actions! I feel youthful again and have reignited the inner fire and desires and goals I had when I was younger. Somewhere in my heart I am still about 25… maybe 27. In my soul, I am young and vibrant and sexy.
In reality, I’m almost 53 with marks on my body from giving birth to the 3 most amazing kids a woman could have. I have sunspots on my skin and I carry more pounds on my body than I should have. I dye my hair to cover the grey. And yes, I now receive offers from AARP in the mail. It is what it is.
But I am happy, I am strong and I love who I have become. And I now see that I can be a sexy woman at any age!
So why do I share all of this with you? I’ve found myself again… and I want this FOR YOU! Have you felt lost? Have you put yourself – your wants – your needs – last? Who are you now? Have you lost years… maybe decades like me? Do you question yourself? Do you wonder who you are anymore? I get that. I did that too! People start referring to you as Nate’s mom… or Frank’s wife… or Mrs. Mellott because they can’t remember your first name… pssst… it’s Sheri. It’s always been Sheri. I’ve been right here supporting my husband, supporting my kids, supporting my family and putting myself behind what everyone else needed. But here’s a little secret I want to share with you… are you listening? This is sooooooo normal! Yep. You are normal! Women tell me this all the time! They tell me they have felt this way too! They feel lost! They don’t know who they are anymore? They don’t recognize themselves anymore! How does this happen? It happens somewhere in our 30’s or 40’s as our lives get busy and we chase a career or raise our families or care for our parents… or do all of those things at the same time. But if we’re lucky we figure out how to get it back – how to get ourselves back!
Buy the new lipstick. Go for the new hairstyle. Get the highlights. TAKE THE SELFIES! Start now because you’re worth it. Start now because your loved ones deserve to have photos of you… they deserve to have you back. YOU deserve to have yourself back. You deserve to be the best version of you. The world deserves what you have to offer. So bring it! You’re never too old to start any of this – or to chase new goals and dreams. You’re never too old to find your younger self. Beauty comes from inside… sexy comes from inside… and both defy the boundaries of age. Beauty is a lifelong journey because beauty is ageless. And glam? Well my dear, I believe GLAM is a state of mind!
Xoxo ~ Sheri