Stepping out of the house in the morning into the cold air and with a long day ahead has got to be one of the most daunting feelings. Just thinking of all of the unchecked items on the day’s to-do list brings on feelings of exhaustion before any work has even been accomplished. Imagining the countless interactions, the infinite possibilities of how the day can twist and turn is like the firing of a gun at the start of race — there’s no bullet, no real threat, but the sound alone induces a rush of adrenaline as you start to run, pushing off the ground with all of the power you can muster.
Admittedly, this is a dramatic way to describe the start of what, in reality, is usually a pretty mild and mundane day, but the sentiment remains. Typically, I feel intimidated by the day and my anxious mind begins to race before the day has even started. I wonder if I’ll be able to finish all that needs to be done and how I’ll be perceived by the people around me. In the midst of it all, I find solace, as insignificant as it may seem, in the clothes I’ve picked out for the day and even in the process of dressing myself.
Every morning when I wake up, I spend the first 45 minutes to the first hour of my day with myself in my closet and in front of the mirror. I make thoughtful selections piecing together an outfit, taking into consideration what I have to do that day, what tone I want to set for myself, how I want to present myself to others, what I want to express and how I’m feeling. In the mirror, I make thoughtful choices about how to fix my hair and what makeup shades, if any, to use.
The entire process in itself is a meditation and an act of self-love. It’s a conversation with myself in which I listen, without judgment or haste, to my body and my inner self. I accommodate every want and need while entertaining every creative thought or idea that comes into my mind. It’s a moment in which I make myself a priority. By putting conscious effort into my appearance every morning, I exercise some small form of autonomy. It’s a decision that is fully mine to make, without input from anyone else.
Taking the time to focus on myself is an affirmation that I’m just as important as all the work that I do in a day, that said work is meaningful and that I take pride in who I am and the things that I put forth into the world.
It’s also a form of self-expression and a way of communicating what I want people to think and know about me before I even open my mouth to say anything. Communication is so much more than verbal interactions and your appearance is a powerful way to convey messages about who you are.
When I look put together, I’m sending that message to everyone around me, that I am put together; organized, confident, thoughtful. When I wear bright colors and abstract designs I communicate that I’m fun and maybe cheerful or creative. While people may not think these things consciously or verbatim, people pick up on these things subconsciously and it’s comforting to feel a sense of control over the way people perceive and understand you.
Lastly, the sense of routine, starting each day the same way brings comfort. The day is a lot easier to tackle when you know exactly what the first steps are, especially when the first steps are something you enjoy. Suddenly, getting out of bed is not the daunting task it once was, there is something to look forward to. This way you’re no longer thrusting yourself right into meeting the expectations, desires, and needs of other people.
As little as an hour spent prioritizing yourself and doing something you enjoy can set the tone for the entire day. The following hours can be stressful, frustrating, boring, or just straight-up crummy and it all matters way less. After taking time to do something that matters to you and to remind yourself that you matter, you can operate from a place of clarity and confidence giving you more capacity to deal with whatever the world has to throw at you.
Maybe it’s not an outfit or a hairstyle for you. Maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with how you look (although it is a huge confidence booster and I recommend at least trying it). But making time to prioritize yourself, to accentuate and express all of the wonderful things about you and to just do things that bring you joy, even if it’s just for an hour or so, can dramatically alter and improve your life.
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