I thought I had a lot of confidence – until I realized I couldn’t leave the house without makeup

All the confidence and self-esteem I had was stored in matte tubes, in my cream bottles and my contour palette.

I stared at the girl in front of me. The beautiful girl in the mirror, wearing a white sleeveless top tucked in a brown knee-length, button-up skirt with denim jacket and a pair of boots. I observed her flawless face. Her eyebrows were unnaturally thick and bold. Her eyes were surrounded by shades of colors and framed with fake eyelashes. All the blemishes on her face were gone. Layers of cream, foundation, concealer and highlighter were covering her skin. Thanks to her skills in contouring, her face shape was more defined.

She was perfect.

I smiled, completely satisfied with my look. Now, I’m ready to face the world.

As I was walking to college, I could feel all eyes on me. I pretended to ignore them and suppressed my urge to smile proudly. I loved exposing my beauty and attracting people with my look. It made me feel more confident and good about myself.

I noticed my own reflection on store windows and glass doors as I passed by them. Damn, I looked really good.

And then I suddenly saw a girl my age, walking in the opposite direction. She carried herself the same way as me, so poised and confident. There seemed to be a vibe around her, screaming “Look at me, I’m beautiful!” Except that was something different about her.

As she got closer to me, I noticed her face was almost bare. Her outfit was simpler than mine. Unlike me, she didn’t have that ‘perfect’ body shape. Yet she was just as confident as me in my full makeup and meticulously crafted outfit.

I’ve seen a lot of girls like her. Girls who doesn’t need any kind of makeup or trendy clothes to improve their looks. They have no colors on their face, no perfect curves, no fashionable outfit, but they still carry themselves well.

I wondered, “Why can’t I be like that? Do I actually have the confidence I want?”

I might’ve looked like a confident girl in everyone’s eyes. But the truth was, I envied those who didn’t feel like they needed to look ‘better’ all the time. They knew they’re beautiful, even without all the trappings. I wish I could be as brave as them. But I couldn’t leave my house without a full face on. All the confidence and self-esteem I had was stored in matte tubes, in my cream bottles and my contour palette.

Since the age of thirteen, I started to learn how to dress to impress. I watched hundreds of makeup tutorials and became an expert at sixteen. I kept myself updated about new trends by watching fashion reality shows.

I lied to myself that it was for me, not for others, but in the end I realized how dependent I was on them. That’s not how it supposed to be. The ideas of wearing makeup and be fashionable isn’t wrong, but being tied to them? Yes, it is.

I want to be a confident, with and without it.

So, I decided to take a break from it. I needed to find real confidence within myself. For the first time, I went to college without using all these so-called ‘confidence boosters.’

At first, I felt vulnerable about my appearance. I so was insecure knowing that people around could finally see what I really looked like. A face with blemishes and uneven skin tones. The bags under my eyes were clearly visible. I wore simpler clothes this time. I didn’t look horrible, but I did look plain. Everywhere I went, I felt as if all eyes were on me. Except this time their stares weren’t admiring. I felt exposed and completely self-conscious.

I did skipped my makeup routine and wore simpler outfits again and again, and slowly, I became comfortable without my fashion and makeup armor. I started to embrace my so-called ‘flaws’ and love myself even more. There was no need to cover all my ‘imperfections.’ I learned to acknowledge them as my unique features of my face.

After months of taking a break from makeup and high fashion, I’ve learned a great deal. I accepted my insecurities and changed the way I view my imperfections. I no longer see them as undesirable features, but as a part of me. I’ve come to terms with the fact that no one is perfect, no matter how much they try, and that includes me.

Beauty has to come from the inside, not just from outer looks. That is what self-confidence all about – more on how positively you feel about yourself, not what everyone thinks about you.

But hey, I didn’t stop wearing makeup and keeping up with the trends entirely. I’m just not as obsessed as I was before. I’m still having fun putting it on my face, trying on new looks and styles. But what I’ve realized is that it should be a choice, not a necessity. Makeup and clothes are an addition to my beauty, but without them, I’m already complete.