This is about personal, anecdotal experiences and should not substitute medical advice. If you're having health concerns of any kind, we urge you to speak to a healthcare professional.
Reflecting on the past year as a new one looms closer is a perfectly ordinary practice, but 2020 is no ordinary year. These months of global tragedy and upheaval have supercharged the tradition with extra meaning, providing ample opportunity to explore our relationships with ourselves. We’ve spent more time alone in our own heads and in the company of our own bodies than ever before. With that shift comes inevitable revelations—big and small—in the interconnected realms of beauty, wellness, and mental health.
I asked six women I admire to tell me about one of theirs. Scroll down to bask in the collective wisdom of what they shared.
"I have always been an extreme over-thinker and someone who was never okay with uncertainty. I always had a plan B, C, and D—just in case my best-case scenario didn’t work out. Many people might simply call this 'being responsible,' but when life inevitably threw a curveball, I experienced extreme anxiety. I was unable to act like myself or do the work I love to do.
"This year, I decided to get a therapist to help me sort through an extremely difficult situation, and through our sessions I've come to believe and accept even though I can control my actions and outlook, I can never control other peoples' actions or unforeseen outcomes. I'm so proud of how far I've come this year mentally, and how many silent and public battles I've faced without losing myself completely. And I'm even prouder of myself for tapping into my vulnerability instead of shying away from it as a public figure. It's allowed me to grow in more ways than I ever expected in 2020, and I'm thankful that mental health is such a large topic of conversation now because it makes me and many others feel less alone in their thoughts."
"The most consistent question I'm asked these days centers around work/life balance—'how are you doing it all and still making time for yourself!?' At times I've felt really frustrated when my work/life “balance” was anything but. Self-funding and growing a business with my bare hands means everything (everything!) comes back to me. In three years I've taught myself everything from FDA compliance to financial modeling to graphic design. We're growing a team, I'm teaching myself how to be a firm yet supportive boss, and sometimes there are tough calls to make.
"This year has been really wild for Golde as we saw nothing short of exponential growth. Our June revenues this year beat out all of 2019 as a whole, and we had the same number of full-time employees at the time (myself and my co-founder). I haven't taken meaningful time off since October of last year, and I'm definitely in the 12-hour workday grind. To be honest, the best thing I did for myself this year was acknowledge that work/life balance is whatever I make of it. The past 12 months have felt like a sprinted marathon, but I'm also pretty damn elated every morning to do what I do. I'm grateful to have such a positive space to channel my energy into during the most anxiety-inducing times. We're starting to find a path to a more sustainable long term, and with that will come time off and hopefully also a few bubble baths. But right now, self-care means jumping in headfirst and loving it."
"For most of my life I’ve operated under this assumption that I needed to have longer hair, maybe because of societal expectations, or because I thought it made me more approachable and feminine. I was in the process of growing it out past my shoulders early this year, but when lockdown began I realized I don’t like having hair. I cut it into a pixie at first, and eventually I started shaving it all off. I feel the most “me” with a shaved or partially shaved head, whereas with long hair I felt like I was performing.
"As a fat woman, I’m very aware of the stigma that if you're over a certain weight and don’t have standout features like a prominent jawline, you’re not supposed to have short hair. I posted a photo on my Instagram recently where you can see a roll in my neck, and it’s something that would have bothered me previously—but now I think it’s cute! It reminds me of my dad. There’s something really beautiful about being able to see all the things that hair usually hides. I’ve always leaned androgynous with my style, so with a shaved head I’m just leaning in further. It’s an extension of my most genuine self. And it doesn't hurt that I can roll out of bed and shower in a fraction of the time."
"My biggest health epiphany this year has been discovering that I am a type 1 diabetic. I knew something was wrong but I was too afraid to go to the doctor to find out. Like people often do, I brushed aside the symptoms, but I reached a breaking point in the middle of fashion week working back to back jobs. My body nearly gave out, which necessitated a week-long hospitalization due to diabetic ketoacidosis. Type 1 diabetes doesn’t run in my family, and I had given up refined sugar a year before. I didn’t understand how my health had declined so quickly. I remember feeling frightened, disappointed, and betrayed by my own body. Acceptance of my diagnosis required work.
"Now, listening to my body is my number one priority. I learned not to dismiss anything I’m feeling and address it right away. Quarantine has allowed me to adjust to my new normal and manage my diabetes at a reasonable pace. Undergoing such a scary ordeal made me realize my health is the absolute most important thing. Gigs, jobs, and other opportunities that are enticing for someone like me who makes a living as a freelance makeup artist are secondary to how I’m feeling physically and emotionally.
Now that the industry is easing back into work, I’ll check in with myself throughout the day to make sure I am feeling okay. I work on my health as if it were a second job. The pandemic has intensified my urgency when it comes to staying on top of my health, and I recommend that others do the same. I tell all of my friends to go to the doctor and get check ups, exercise regularly, take supplements, and try not to skip meals.
"I must have been in fifth or sixth grade when my mom first let me wax my eyebrows—she took me to see a waxer at her hair salon, and when it was over I vividly remember looking in the mirror, disappointed the woman didn’t remove more hair. I waxed for all of middle school, then eventually switched to threading just for my brows. I removed the hair on my eyebrows in some way or another for so many years that at a certain point I actually forgot what my face looked like before I started.
"I began growing them out when I was quarantining at my parents’ house in Florida. I stopped tweezing and trimming completely, and just waited to see what would happen. The growing-out process was easy because I didn’t care at all what I looked like over those six-ish months. I rarely left the house except to go on runs, and the only people I saw were my parents, grandparents, and my particularly beauty-clueless boyfriend. By the time I went back home, they were fully grown in. When my friends finally saw me they were really surprised. My new, natural brows definitely change my face—I’ve always looked like my youngest brother but now I could probably unlock his phone with face ID.
"Sometimes I wake up and think I looked so much prettier with my old brows. Or more put together. Sometimes I wake up and think they look so cool and brush them up with Got2b gel. I’ve worked for Glossier for nearly three years, and it’s difficult to separate the workplace culture around brows from how I feel about my own. I think eventually, the tides will shift again, thin brows will come back in, and as with all trends, we’ll choose whether we want to participate or not. In the meantime I’m working on the admittedly lofty goal of being okay with my body in its natural state. I’m trying to like these brows while I have them, but I’m still not sure! Eventually I suppose I’ll get used to them, and then they’ll just be part of my face, and then they’ll just be part of me. For now, it seems like it would be so much work to whittle my brows down to what they once were. I’m too busy to give them that time anymore."
"I use the word 'anxiety' as a panacea sometimes. It's something I can say to signal to others that I'm not feeling well or that mentally I'm tapped, but it doesn't always paint an accurate picture of what's going on when my brain spirals. I went to my first therapy session this year for that reason—to figure out how to describe my emotions, maybe even put a name to them. In my head it makes sense: identify and name my problems and they'll be easier to organize and solve. It's not that easy but it feels good to be working toward something, even if I don't have that 'aha' moment every session.
"In actuality, I haven't had a lot of epiphanies in the eight months I've been seeing my therapist. What I have discovered, though, is a way to verbalize my issues, pick them out of my overstimulated mind and word vomit them out over the phone. It feels good to be able to break down existential emotion in that way. I went from 'I don't know, I just feel anxious,' to actually describing what's irking me and how that relates to my mental health as a whole. Therapy has made me 200% more inward-thinking and 1000% more woo woo. It's oddly helped me connect with people more, too, because vulnerability isn't as difficult for me anymore, and now I have the words to describe it."
"I realized that no one could ever, or will ever, love me more than I could ever love myself. No amount of clothes or wealth—no filters or augmentations I might be able to apply to my mind, body, and spirit—will ever make me love myself more. Tolerate? Maybe. But the true and deep energies of Me loving Me? Nothing external can heal the internal unless it comes from nature. And I can’t keep outsourcing my power to other people, institutions, or distractions. All the power, all the beauty, all the love, all the healing comes from within me."