It starts at a young age and then it never stops. At first, you were blissfully unaware of everyone else. You only focused on you. Nothing else mattered. Nothing was more important. You stayed like this for some time, biding your days in a lull of peace, until you tripped and fell from the blissful Eden of ignorance and landed smack-dab in the middle of Judgement Day. Your eyes had finally opened. You could see outside of yourself. Not everyone was the same. Or at least you were very, very different.
That’s how it happened for me at least. You start to notice little things. Her hair’s blonde. That’s pretty, I wish my hair was blonde. Or, Look at her eyes. They’re blue, everyone likes blue eyes. Or, maybe one I’ve been plagued with, Everyone’s so tiny. Short and skinny. Short. And. Skinny. And I don’t know what caused this revelation, and I don’t think I ever will, but what I do know is that every girl is destined to have these thoughts and it will change their lives forever.
From then on, you have to be the very best at something. You have to find your niche. If you’re not that pretty, you can be smart. If you’re not smart, you can be athletic. If you’re not athletic, you can be funny. But you have to be something. You have to be labeled. If you’re not the best at what you do, then that’s not your thing. When you’re a girl, there’s no such thing as shooting for the moon, and landing among the stars. If you’re shooting for the moon, you better hit it with such precision and accuracy that you have enough confidence to put a flag on it and call it yours. If you don’t, you’ll probably end up crashing towards Earth in a ball of flames. Our prospects aren’t pretty.
And if you can’t be the very best version of yourself, then you’ve got to change to unlock your true potential. It starts off small. You tell everyone to start calling you “Kate,” which is much more grown up. You get a haircut maybe, or you buy that pink sweater that you saw some popular girl wearing. You may hate pink, but that sweater will help you move up the ranks. Nothing was going to stop you from getting a spot at the pretty table, and that pink monstrosity was your ticket in. But then suddenly you notice that even though you’re wearing the same sweater as every other girl at the table, it looks better on them. You decide to wear some makeup the next day. You have no idea how to apply it, and you hate how the mascara made your eyelashes stick together, but as you sneak past your mother who disapproves, you hope that this is the secret to being pretty, to fitting in.
Maybe next you try getting your ears pierced. It hurts a lot, and you wonder if it’s worth it, but you know you have to go through with it. The only consolation is how pretty the other girls look with their ears pierced, and the hope that you will look just as pretty, and if not more.
It’s a vicious cycle. One little change turns into a lifestyle change and suddenly, you aren’t sure who you are, but you do know who you’re supposed to be. Then you’re stuck. Do you follow your dreams of becoming head of the pretty table, even if you hate everything you’ve had to do to get there, or do you stop and try to figure out what you enjoy? It’s a crossroads that many of us sit at for a while. Some of us have been stuck there our whole lives, while others took the wrong path, and are desperately trying to find their way back to the other road.
I think that many of us get lost at whether what we’re doing is self-improvement, or improving ourselves for others’ sake. I’ve had short hair all my life. But at one point, I noticed everyone else had long hair. So I said, “I’m going to grow it out. No more haircuts.” I grew my hair out as long as I could possibly could. I hated it and it looked nothing like the other girls’. So I parted it differently. It still looked awful. It was then I realized that I wasn’t growing my hair out for me. I was growing it out so I could fit in. So I could blend in. So I would automatically be grouped together with all the other pretty girls based upon the fact that we both had long hair. But I never felt like I deserved to be grouped in with the pretty girls.
So I cut it. I lost ten inches of hair that day, and it felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders. I felt happier, and much prettier than I ever felt with the ridiculous haircut I had before. I finally felt like me.
So here I am today, facing my horribly overgrown pair of eyebrows. I hate plucking my eyebrows. It hurts and there is a large chance that I will make them look worse. It doesn’t bother me that they aren’t neatly trimmed; it bothers me that I will no longer be grouped together will the people who have nice eyebrows, i.e. the pretty group. But why should I care? Is there even such a thing as a pretty group? Because to me, the pretty group was everyone, but me. It was a party that every single girl I knew got an invitation to, but I was somehow left off the list. That’s why I have to ask myself if I care. If overgrown eyebrows will make me a worse person. If they will make me unhappy. If they will change who I am. No. They won’t. And I’m fine with that. Maybe your answers are different. Maybe you feel differently on the topic of overgrown eyebrows, but that’s okay because we have to remember that not everyone is the same, or at least, we are all very, very different.