When I was in my late teens, I wouldn’t leave the house (unless going swimming) without makeup. Concealer, foundation, powder, eye shadow, liner and mascara. Lip gloss at a minimum, liner and lipstick pretty often.

Self-Consciousness

Me, circa 1996.

Add to that, legs shaved every second day. Moisturiser all over, lest someone see a dry patch of skin. Hair was long, but maybe with an undercut. Definitely coloured, if you were allowed.

After all that, it was headphones on and out the door. First, it was a Walkman loaded with a cassette full of stuff I’d taped off the radio. Triple J, of course. None of that poppy, Top 40 bullshit everyone else listened to. Had to be alternative- grunge or metal. Maybe hard rock. Certainly no Spice Girls or anything resembling the dreaded techno. A genre my kids have never heard of, by the way.

The clothes were important, too. Pants came from the army disposal store. Shoes were either Converse or Doc Martens. Tops invariably had a band on them or were strappy singlets. Cold? Put on that flanno tied around your waist, then! I had a certain image to maintain, you see. Or so I thought.

What’s it like now?

Kids these days are no different, although the styles might be. My 14 year old baby-goth told me just this afternoon that there was literally nothing good played on the radio. Far too mainstream for her image, I guess.

Self-Consciousness

Me: “Nothing good on the radio? Rubbish! What about that Despacito song?”

Not that long ago, I walked towards a girl at the airport, just before my 15 year old stepdaughter went on a school trip overseas. The girl turned toward me and it wasn’t my stepdaughter. Awkward! Yet, she was wearing what my stepdaughter customarily wears: black tights, fitted tee, sports hoodie and black sneakers with white soles. Her hair was brown, quite long and worn down. When I looked at the group altogether, they all seemed to be wearing the same outfits and style like an unconscious uniform.

Even my stepson, 13 tomorrow (hold me!), has an eye on trends. He likes cuffed jeans and trying to rap along to what’s on the radio. He actually cares about his hair.

When I think of being self-conscious, I remember what it was like to be younger. Worried that every outfit, opinion or action might be judged and found lacking. Someone might make fun of me and that would naturally lead to the end of the world. Catastrophic. Imagine living with that level of self-consciousness now? No, thanks!

Over the last few years, my own version of self-consciousness has changed. Now, I’m more conscious of what I actually like. I am far less interested in what other people think about the things I like, wear, listen to, read, watch or do. Perhaps it’s being a whisker away from 36, or maybe it’s because I stopped wasting my fucks on unimportant things from fear they’d run out? I don’t know.

I’m not the only one.

My bestie and I discussed it last night while putting together a roast dinner and drinking cans of beer. We decided it was our age. At 35 and a bit, for us anyway, we really just stopped caring. We made a decision to just let all that shit go.

Self-Consciousness

Not. One.

For example, on a break at work one day, a friend remarked on my book. It was a Jodi Picoult paperback. She gave her opinion that Picoult wrote nothing but predictable trash, or something to that effect. I just smiled and suggested she not read it then. Teenage me would have hastily agreed and hidden the book to finish in secret. 30-something me picked it up and resumed reading because I fucking love Jodi Picoult’s stories.

These days, Β I will turn up the music and sing along, whether it’s Billie Holliday, Justin Beiber, Gaga or System of a Down. I feel like your mid-thirties is an excellent time to let go of your fear of judgment. Let it roll over you and away, if you do encounter it.

I wear what I feel good in. My hair is partly shaved off and mostly blue because, well, why the fuck not? Some days, I wear makeup but other days, I’m wearing just my own skin on my face, complete with laugh lines, and it’s nice to be comfortable in it.

 

#IBOT @ Capturing Life.

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  • I don’t think I’ve ever gone through a phase of caring much what I looked like.

    I think I was quite young when I stopped caring about parental approval & wanting to go my own way. I think I was 12 when I first announced I wanted to leave home! In hindsight of the last few weeks, I wish I had fully cut contact with my family sooner. It would have saved me much recent stress.

    • I know, mate- you strike me as one of the rare people that always marched to the beat of her own drum. And that’s awesome πŸ™‚

  • Enjoyed this post Amy. I can’t believe you’re nearly 36. For some reason I thought you were my age. I think this decade has been the one where I have slowly felt less self-conscious about certain areas of my life. I’m still a work in progress. I don’t really care what people think about what I wear because I dress for me. But there are still some things I’ve cared what people have thought of my decisions around career/blogging and family. I also love Jodi Picoult and despite Mia Freeman’s recent bad publicity, I’m still reading her book, because I’m curious, and so far I’m enjoying it.

    • I’d be interested to know what you think of Mia’s book- she sure can be divisive!

  • Hugzilla

    I’ve always been pretty good in this regard. I was a riot grrrl/indie type throughout my youth, so was always used to looking a bit weird. It was easier back then though, without social media. I don’t envy young people trying to navigate the whole self-image thing with social media and the distortions it promotes.

  • I love this! I thought I’d been pretty Elsa like and let it go in my thirties but then I got to my forties! The older I get, the less fucks I have to give or want to give. If only I knew in my teens, what I know now!

  • I totally had the same look as you. Army pants, boots, I even wore a petticoat out once! I looked hideous but thought it was soooo cool. It’s so nice to not give a shit. You are right it comes from knowing yourself.

    • Ha, I had a black lace one I wore out on the regular- loved it!

  • I was a goth girl way back… (Thanks for the memories – still adore all those gothy things even now.)
    I am a whole decade along from you in age (plus one whole year – shizz!) Anyway, I can agree that the I don’t care feeling just grows in its greatness as the years go by.

    • I wore my share of black eyeliner and nail polish too πŸ™‚

  • YES, YES, YES!!! Nodding my head all the way through this. I have 4 teenagers in the house and watching them all begin to care and then grow to care far too much about their hair and fashion both fills me with pride and worries me. I remember the anxiety of choosing what to wear, even though I was wearing different to all my friends and wanting to stand out, the truth was, I actually wanted to be accepted. (so complex!!) I think I was of similar age when the caring of these things went well out the window, I simply do not care what someone else thinks about what I wear, where I live, what I eat etc. Such a freeing stage of life!!

  • Definitely comes with age. Whether it is clothes, music, books or other choices you make … At some point we all realise we don’t need anyone else’s opinion. And Jodi rocks! Enjoy.

  • I have definitely noticed my confidence growing considerably since I turned 30 (I’m 33 now). I am so glad to not be a self conscious mess anymore. At least not as badly as I once was. I am hoping that if I give it another few years, I will give even less fucks!

  • I love a bit of Jodi Piccoult too – even if she is formulaic. Hey, it’s a good formula! I think you definitely get to an age where you genuinely do things for yourself only, without worry about others. Thirties sounds about right.

    • Exactly- sometimes i read just for escapism. It doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece every time- just a juicy plot and good characters!

  • I’m nearly 50 (faaarck!) and I find I care about different things. I can still be self-conscious and struggle with confidence but I guess time allows us to better understand what matters, or our priorities change so some stuff that once bothered me no longer does.

    • Yep, the care factor is so different as we get older!

  • Today I stood in the aisle of a supermarket next to a 70 year old woman who was rocking away to ‘like a virgin’. I want to be like that lady! #teamIBOT

  • I found as soon as I had kids I stopped caring what anyone thought. I used to leave the house in full makeup straightened hair etc but I think I’ve worn makeup maybe 4 times in the last 4yrs and I really don’t care if anyones looking at my face or not. Could also partially be the lack of time these days but either way I’m way less bothered about what others think.

  • Helen King

    Absolutely agree that the things that are important start to rise to the top, and the superficial – which seem so important at the time – become less so. There’s not enough time to focus on all the aspects I used to worry about (I’ve still got plenty of worries to shed – but not ones like the ones you shared!) Plus, if we were all the same, life would be a bit boring, wouldn’t it?

    • Variety is the spice of life, right? πŸ™‚

  • Definitely agree as you get older it’s easier not to care what others think. I’ve never been one to care too much about people not liking how I do things, how I dress or anything really. However, I know I have no knowledge of current trends (especially fashion or celebrity stuff) or anything of that sort, nor do I care about them. Comfortable is good πŸ˜‚ I’m just in my 30s and I’m more concerned with my kids embarrassing me in public πŸ™ˆ

    • Comfortable is just so damn comfortable! πŸ™‚

  • Lauren Threadgate

    Love this my! I’ll be 33 in November and am right where you are. Its so liberating to drop the constraints of fear around judgement.

    I can’t shake the flanno but I wear the most because I like them πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ not because I’m still trying to be non-conformist

  • Yes and yes and yes to all of this. I enjoy not caring about what others think of my music collection or what I’m reading, I buy and wear things I like whether they are in fashion or not, I wear make-up because I want to. I understand and remember how important it all is to teenage girls. I have a while to wait but I hope my daughter takes some of my current feels on board when she gets there.

  • I’m not sure when it happened exactly but as you get closer to “the hill” a brand new attitude to life comes over you zero fucks are easily given. Instead of being self conscious you’re too busy enjoying yourself!! Good place to be ❀️ #teamIBOT