How Travel Forced Me To Stop Obsessing Over My Looks
Whenever I left for a long trip, I always worried about how I was going to maintain my appearance. I read several articles on how to stay “pretty” when traveling, what to pack, and what kinds of tricks to use in order to not look like a hobo. I recently cut my hair short and was afraid of having a big mess on my head, followed by unpainted nails and no makeup, which I’m so used to wearing. For some reason, the idea of wearing the same clothes every couple of days was much less scary than the idea of my hair and face looking bad.
I paid attention to my looks, but I wasn’t obsessed. It wasn’t a big deal if my shoes didn’t always match my clothes or if I had a bad hair day. I wouldn’t buy expensive outfits either–I definitely prefered to spend the money on something else, like traveling. Although my looks weren’t my obsession, I did care about my appearance, and I didn’t really know how to cope with long-term travel.
Although almost no one wore makeup in the diving resort and everyone’s hair suffered from the sea water, I was convinced that I looked the worst and that I had lost all of my charm and beauty.
In the end, I was left only with eyeliner and lipstick on my trip. It was too much of a hassle to wear foundation and mascara: it was hot and humid and it didn’t make much sense anyway.
This was a big change for me. To be honest, I really didn’t like how my face looked without makeup, and I avoided mirrors as much as I could. My hair was out of control as well and I felt very unattractive most of the time.
I know that for some people, it might sound silly, but for me it was a real issue. I had to accept that, for the time being, that was how I was going to look and there was not much I could do about it. I would not carry a hair dryer, fancy accessories, or tons of makeup because I felt uncomfortable. I decided that it was time to overcome this feeling and let go of constantly worrying about my physical appearance.
How Travel Forced Me To Stop Obsessing Over My Looks.
Like many things in life, it was easier said than done. My face had a very unhappy expression every time I looked in the mirror. The worst moment came when I started my diving internship in the Philippines. I was in the water most of the time and my hair and skin looked just terrible. We all know what salt water and sun can do to your skin and hair, and I was struggling with it.
It’s pretty hard to admit, but many times, I thought that the people around me must have seen me as a really ugly person. After all, it was how I saw myself. Although almost no one wore makeup in the diving resort and everyone’s hair suffered from the sea water, I was convinced that I looked the worst and that I had lost all of my charm and beauty.
The diving itself was exhausting. Everyday I thought less and less about my looks. I was so busy practicing and learning that one day, I realized that I finally stopped thinking about how I looked. I felt free. I even managed to smile at my tired and sunburned face, and I just laughed at my hair, which looked worse than ever. I didn’t realize how important that moment was until a few days after, when I found myself doing the exact same thing. I stopped caring about how I looked and it gave me more freedom that I ever expected.
The constant pressure I felt to look beautiful suddenly disappeared, and I felt like I was coming to peace with my physical self. Like all women, there are things that I really don’t like about myself and I’ve always tried to hide them. Suddenly, those things stopped bothering me as much and I could simply let go of the feeling of shame or unhappiness.
I realized that, thanks to traveling, I was slowly letting go of all of the masks I was wearing. The clothes, the makeup, the hairstyle: those are all masks that are supposed to make us feel safer and better.
Letting go of the worry about the way we look is another step in freeing ourselves from the expectations of the world and giving ourselves more self-acceptance and love.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with having your own style or wearing makeup, but I really started to think that there is so much more to us than just covering our imperfections. I remember watching some video on YouTube of a girl who decided to go for a month with no makeup, and I thought she was crazy. I didn’t see the point of it or understand why anyone would voluntarily make themselves look less attractive.
After few months of traveling, I finally got it. Letting go of the worry about the way we look is another step in freeing ourselves from the expectations of the world and giving ourselves more self-acceptance and love. As hard as it was (and still is sometimes), I was grateful for the opportunity to travel. It leads to breaking barriers and overcoming obstacles. Maybe instead of looking for tips on how to look good when traveling, we should focus on experiencing and understanding a new culture — and eventually, ourselves.
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How Travel Forced Me To Stop Obsessing Over My Looks photo by Joanna K.