When people talk about anxiety they talk about the huge and strange ways it impacts your life… what they don’t talk about is how it can deteriorate the day to day.
There was once a time when I was too afraid to wear red lipstick. I felt too bold, too visible, and not good enough to show my face. To some it is just a way to express their individuality, but when you’re uncomfortable in your own skin, you may not want to. Lipstick can scream “look at me” or “I am confident.” I wasn’t confident. I didn’t want to be noticed for the individual that I was. My High School experience was mostly spent hiding. When I did go to school it was sweat pants, a sweater, and hair put back in a messy bun. The sides hung at my face. I was hiding behind almost bangs, shivering each and every time I had to face a new opponent.
At home, I would sift through Vogue, Cosmo, and teen magazines. I would watch Gossip Girl, 90210, and One Tree Hill, then I would pine over “The Devil Wears Prada”. These women were beautiful — glamorous, confident, and even… sexy. In my mind I wanted what they had. I dreamt about walking the streets of New York City, heels in toe, heart on my chest. I wore high heels in middle school, but high school? I can’t even remember what I wore. The days were a mass of grey. Depression, anxiety, they had become my symphony. Cutting through my confidence they left me with little more to feel than hopelessness.
Lipstick is a tool for some, for others, it is so much more. Those women wore lipstick to canvas their lips, their words flowing like fine wine. They smiled as they spoke, they looked their audience in the eyes. I could never be that girl. I could never wear red lipstick in public. I tried a few times, but never made it out the door. The insides of my sweaters were painted with forgotten promises to myself. With whispers and insecurities that all mimicked my deepest fear: “you are not good enough, and you never will be.”
But, this isn’t a story of how insecurity can ruin your life. It’s more than that. Because now, half a decade later, I sit writing this piece. I am wearing red lipstick. I am wearing a dress. I am wearing wedged heels. The occasion? None. I am happy. I have my ups and I have my downs, but I am getting by. There is life on the other side of mental illness, even if it’s only for remission periods. There are smiles, and confident moments.
Next month I will be walking down the streets of New York for MisophoniaInternational, where I advocate my disorder. I will be helping people, but I will also be the person I only wished to be as a teenager.
For some it is lipstick… but for me… it is a beacon. It is a symbol. It is my courage, my confidence. It is sexy. It is free.
Shaylynn Hayes is a 22 year old writer, graphic/webdesigner, and student that advocates for the disorder Misophonia. Misophonia has
created trials and tribulations, but it is not all bad. It is due to Misophonia that she ended up switching schools, but it is also the reason she has been able to focus her voice and try to help others that struggle with the disorder. Shaylynn suffers from anxiety and depression, though spends many of her days in remission.