You’re Missing It

You’re missing it.

Your youth. You’re missing it. You’re missing it because you’re worrying too much. You’re missing it because you aren’t living in the moment. You aren’t fully in today, in the right now, in the present. You’re missing it because you’re not realizing your growth or your worth.

Linds, wake up.

Stop worrying. Look around: you’re a healthy, pretty, 25-year-old who has made her greatest dream come true. You’re living in New York City. There are girls around the world who would kill to be in your shoes right now. You are a subway stop away from Times Square. You have a favorite coffee shop in the West Village. You work in Meatpacking and live next to Central Park. One day you will live in suburbia and you will remember your life in the city, and you will think of how silly you were to worry away your early-20′s.

Stop worrying about your career.

Yes, you wonder what’s next. Yes, you question what you want. Yes, you get so incredibly frustrated thinking about what you should be doing and if you’re moving at the right pace and if you’re staying relevant. You question if your resume is as impressive as it can be at your age. Just remember, you’re growing your skill set. You’re expanding your contacts. You’re improving your writing. You’re meeting people who will one day be instrumental to your career path. You’ll figure out what you want. It’s not that far away. You’ll publish that book and it will be a best-seller. It’s all going to fall into place -so keep grinding in the 9 to 6 (or 7 or 8) groove, and work your little butt off. It’s going to pay off in big ways. Your name will be known. Women will benefit from your writing and buy books that will help them realize their value. You’re going to change lives.

Stop worrying about your apartment.

It’s old and dusty. You would have probably melted if you didn’t buy that air conditioner. You would freeze if you didn’t have sets of comforters to pile on top of you when the heat doesn’t work. Or the hot water doesn’t actually get hot. It’s not glamorous and your landlords are not the brightest. But one day, when you’re old and gray and telling your grandchildren about your New York adventure -you’ll tell them about this place that you decorated with cheap charm and made it feel just like home. You’ll tell them about how you never kept food in the fridge and you waited weeks to clean your dishes and do your laundry. You’ll tell them how you were scared about living uptown, but you sucked it up and you made friends with the hood. They will giggle and you will smile a smile that only belongs to you, and the memories of your youth. One day, you’ll move into a nicer apartment. One day, you will live alone with that little dog. The next move will help make you feel more established in a new New York, and new chapters will start to unfold.

Stop worrying about how you look.

Those zits that seem so worrisome now, will be nothing compared to the wrinkles that will grace your forehead, your cheeks and your eyes. Those extra five pounds that make you feel like you’re gaining weight, won’t seem as important when you’re 60 and enjoying stretchy-pants every single day. Those clothes that just don’t seem good-enough, trendy-enough, chic-enough, expensive-enough, or New York-enough, won’t be as important when you buy your daughter jeans and try to remember where your old clothes are so you can pass them down to her (even if she will never wear them). Your dirty feet that are constantly destroyed by the pavement and the heels or running shoes you insist to wear, won’t seem so gross when you ache in your bones and you can’t wait to get home to soak your feet. That hair that doesn’t corporate and never looks as silky or healthy as every other girl, will seem beautiful and stunning when you see yourself in the morning with gray hair that you’ll need to highlight with blonde again, just as your mother does. That skin of yours that doesn’t like to retain a tan or take well to self-tanning lotion, leaving you pale unlike the other girls, will seem heaven-sent when everyone else is pruning worse than you, and your skin is still healthy. Stop comparing yourself to others and cut yourself some slack. Beauty comes from the heart, and your kindness and compassion will take you farther than those toned legs you have.

Stop worrying about money.

You’re self-sufficient, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Even if you feel the need to save more and spend less, and to ask for a raise or figure out if you really need to take that weekend job -you’re doing just fine. And you’re only going to make more money as your career progresses. Stop beating yourself up for a splurge here-and-there, and keep putting a little money away each pay check. But, Linds, go for that drink with your friends. Buy those shoes on sale down the block. Keep booking trips like you did to Europe this year. You can’t hold your savings so close that you keep yourself from having experiences. That’s what you’re saving for anyway. Keep budgeting, and you’ll see how it will pay off one day. One day, you’ll pay for things like a house, a new car and college tuitions and those monthly-rents of the past and tiny paychecks won’t seem like much.

Stop worrying if you’ll have children.

Those little girls with braided hair and pretty smiles who point to your high heels in the subway, admiring them -are like your future children. You’ll have them. Your kids are beautiful. They are smart. They are healthy. They are able and they are dreamers. They are go-getters who will know more than you do by the time they hit high school. They are loving and they will be your whole world one day. Don’t rush that. The moment they come to this planet, you’ll wish time would come to a stammering standstill. They will grow up faster than you could ever imagine.

And, dear younger-me, stop worrying about love.

This one is a tough one for you -harder than any other part of your life. Take a deep breath and let it go. Let all of it go -the heartaches, the disappointments, the not-quite-enough, and the let-downs. Stop hanging onto old relationships. Stop thinking about the idea of what you thought previous lovers would become. Look at people for who they are. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Forgive others for hurting you or for leading you on. Give yourself more credit and change your negative mindset. Go out to dinner with someone new. Accept a date, even if you don’t think he’s exactly your type. Smile at the stranger who sits next to you every morning on the train and is cute, but you are too tired to care. Put that extra pump in your step and swivel of your hips.

One day, you and your husband will talk about this time in your lives. You’re going to love him, Linds. You’re going to love him in a way that shakes and soothes your soul all at once. He’s going to put a light and love into you that you can’t even begin to feel. He’s truly wonderful, charming and handsome. You’re going to get that great story that you’ve dreamt about, wrote about, and thought about for so long.

So stop worrying.

He’s out there. You can’t speed up the process and you can’t make time go backwards once it gets here. Stop being jealous of the couples walking on the street -one day, there will be a young single gal like yourself who will look at you and your hubby, and feel exactly the same way. Stop getting discouraged and blaming yourself -all of life is part of a magical plan and a blueprint that you can’t fill out completely on your own. Love is out there, and I promise when you’re ready -it’ll be here. So go kiss those frogs -there will come a day when you miss the anticipation of a first date, and the surge of the first time you hold someone’s hand or see them laying next to you as the sun peeks through the blinds.

Don’t miss it.

Stop letting it pass you by. Your youth won’t last forever, and neither will the sharp twang of loneliness in the big city. The puzzle is just starting to fit itself together -so let it. Go live your life. Go get that drink. Go for a run.

Go be you. Your future awaits.

I’m serious, don’t miss it.

Love ya,

Lindsay

PS- Go back to Macy’s and get those shoes that were on sale for $24 -you’re not going to find a better nude heel this summer. I promise. And call your dad!

Originally written July 16, 2010 before you started this lovely blog. It’s funny how little you had to edit to make it relevant four years later… Food for thought. No matter where you are – don’t miss it. Stop missing it. Live it, instead.

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And the Winner of the Self-Love Giveaway Is…

Thank you to everyone who wrote their self-love letter for Valentine’s Day. Remember, you can write these all year-long and I’ll publish them here. The page is already updated with this year’s entries.

I’m excited to announce that Kelly from Ohio and the blogger behind Eternally Single Kelly has won my very first giveaway! Kelly was selected at random and will be sent a prize pack with everything below. You can also read Kelly’s amazing love letter, too:

“You are beautiful. Take those special moments when you realized that you are just a glimmer of that person that used to think so many negative things. You have been through more than most people can say, and are a confident and strong woman. Remember that moment at the lake when he had to stop and what he was doing just to say how beautiful you are and know you deserve it. Remember all those little moments where you looked in the mirror and all that hard work paid off. You are smart, you are beautiful, and you are a force of nature all by yourself. Being with someone only improves you by making each one of you want to be even better person, and that is always your goal. “

I’ll be hosting my second giveaway in a few weeks, so keep a lookout. And congratulations Kelly! Keep self-lovin’!

Giovanni Flight Attendant Hair & Body Kit – $9.99
Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Refreshing Masque – $10 each
Illamasqua Powder Eye Shadow in Toxic- $20
Wet n’ Wild MegaLast Mega Last Nail Color – $2 each
Vidal Sassoon Color Protect Shampoo, Conditioner and Color Protect Creme – prices vary
TRESemme Keratin Infusing Smoothing Serum – prices vary
bliss Pout o Matic – $48
HomeGoods $50 Gift Card
A Love Addict-themed clutch from Stich803.
A Love Addict-themed card and mug from Freckled and Joyful

15 Beauty Products for Single Ladies

I distinctly remember the day my mom let my buy real makeup for the first time: I was 11 and had my very first zit (big and terribly red, center of my chin). It was in the middle of summer, I was wearing khaki shorts and a red polo (don’t judge) and I walked out of Wal-Mart with three things: Neutrogena Face Wash + Acne Creme duo, Covergirl concealer and blue glitter eyeshadow.

Because it was the 90′s, y’all, okay?

I was amazed by how easily it was to hide an imperfection and how fun it was to make my eyes brighten or get bigger with makeup – and honestly, I’ve been hooked ever since. After 15 years of having a really poor complexion that broke out constantly, I’ve been (mostly) acne-clear for a year now. Though Accutane is some serious stuff (and you should only take it if you commit to keeping yourself healthy), it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Having the option of wearing foundation or skipping it has been a life changer and huge confidence booster. Feeling beautiful in my own actual skin is something I always wanted and never had.

But, I still love my beauty products, they’ve just changed a bit.

My mom has always worn the same lipstick, same perfume, used the same lotion – but I like to try things. There are a few staples that I swear by (you’ll see them below) and other ones that I’ve recently tried and loved (also below).

Check out my picks for the best beauty products if you’re dating, looking, loving — or just enjoying the single ride:

Shampoo That Makes Your Hair Smell Amazing

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I hate spending a lot of money on shampoo and conditioner (it just washes down the drain!), but I love when you can get salon-quality product for a very cheap price.  Vidal Sassoon Pro Series (I always get the jumbo-sizes at TJ Maxx for $3.99 each!) has tons of different options – moisture, repair, hydrate – but I love the color protect if you dye your hair like me.

Face Wipes That Wake You Up

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It takes 30-days to form a habit and I’ve been doing this one for 25 years: wake up, brush my teeth, use a cleansing towelette to wake up. I’ve tried lots of them, but these are soft, smell like cucumbers and great for travel. Giovanni also has tons of other products, like travel kits and makeup, check them out. (I love their Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub, too!)

Best Nail Polish Color for a First Date

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One of my good friends – a dating expert – once said: wear a red dress, but never wear red nails on a first date. I was confused by this at first, but it makes sense: you want to dry attention to yourself (and men are distracted by color, it’s science), but not to your hands, necessarily. I always go for a clear polish or a lighter color and Wet N’ Wild has a nice collection that dry fast and available basically everywhere.

Masque to Use Before He Sleeps Over

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Some say three dates, others say five – I say whatever feels right to you. For me, when I’m ready to let a man stay the night at my apartment, I want to seem like I’m this radiant, glowing creature in the morning, even if that’s not exactly true all the time. The night before your adult sleepover, try the Amore Pacific refreshing masque to deep-clean your skin and leave your face soft.

The Easiest Way Ever to Curl Your Hair

Rusk Curl Freak Styler
My hair isn’t naturally anything: it’s a dull, boring light-brown color. It only looks pretty and wavy when it wants to. It doesn’t like to be straightened. And yeah, it’s kind of frizzy. Though this Rusk Curl Freak is a complete splurge ($200!) it will save you so much headache if you want really pretty, really easy curls. You clamp at the top of your hair, push a button, it beeps at you and voila! You have the most beautiful curls, ever with basically no effort.

If You Hate Getting Your Eyebrows Waxed Like Me

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I’ve had my eyebrows waxed a few times but it’s not my favorite past time. The wax breaks me out, I flinch when they do it, I have a red area around my brows for a week after. I opt for old-fashioned tweezing but prefer a slanted tip like this Tweezerman set.

For Lashes You Can Bat

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I’m a big believer in eye contact – on a date, at the bar, when you see someone cute on the subway, at work, while listening to your friend. And if you want to use those babies to pick up someone, pretty eyelashes help pronounce your beauties. I’ve used L’Oreal Voluminous Volume Mascara since high school and refuse to use anything else. It’s seriously the best. (For blue eyes, try black/brown instead of black – it looks more natural!)

The Best Way to Use Oils

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I never understood what you were suppose to do with fragrance oils – where do you dab them? Why do you need them? Then a friend spilled her secret with them: put a little bit on your neck, a little behind your ear (and in other places if you plan on getting naked) and they work their magic. I love the magnolia scent from The Body Shop – and love that their bottles last forever because you use such a little amount each time.

Perfume for Falling in Love (Or At Least Hoping You Do!)

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Unlike my mom, I try tons of different perfumes all the time. I even mix them together to create a new scent if I’m feeling extra creative. My latest obsession is this new perfume, Philosophy’s Loveswept. It smells fresh and citrus-y, with subtle undertones.

For Covering Up Those Pesky Pimples

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If there is a concealer at Sephora, I’ve tried it. Literally anything and everything I could get my hands on, I would try to cover up all of my annoying acne that made me feel so ugly. The best concealer I’ve found – isn’t a concealer at all! It’s actually foundation from Dermablend (with 20 SPF!) and it goes a long, long way. I’ve had the same 1.0 fl. oz bottle for more than a year. No joke. Just put on a problem area, let dry and cover with powder foundation….

Foundation That Doesn’t Look or Feel Like Foundation

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I never liked mineral foundation or makeup until post-Accutane days because I never felt like it was enough coverage. Now, right before runs or heading to work, I dab the Dermablend under my eyes and smooth over with bareMINERALS Ready Foundation. It’s exactly the amount of coverage you need, but not too much.

Because Every Girl Needs Red Lips

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I’m a big believer that everyone looks great with red lipstick. It’s an everyday staple for me, and especially on dates. (I mean, just look at the top of this blog!) Dolce & Gabbana’s classic cream lipstick goes on easy, lasts forever, and is available in fun shades – including my personal favorite, “Fire.”

Say Good-Bye to Dry Skin

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The best tip my dermatologist ever gave me is always, always exfoliate (and moisturize!). This keeps your skin clean, fresh and free of bacteria. One of my favorites is from bliss - just dab on a Clarisonic (worth every penny!), all over your face (especially the t-zone) for really glowing, bright skin. It’s great to use right before you apply makeup for a date.

If You Don’t Want Wrinkles

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My mom started using anti-aging cream at 22, and I started at 21 by her recommendation. It took me a while to find a system that I really liked, and after Accutane, I realized just how much I needed a great moisturizer with SPF and collagen. I was given a Palladio Beauty set as a gift and I fell in love: I used the UV Defense Daily Moisturizer, the Revitalizing Night Repair Cream and the Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream every single day. Best part? It’s totally affordable.

Lotion That’s Not Too Much or Too Little

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It’s hard to find something in between Bath & Body Works and Cetaphil. You might want a little bit of fragrance, but not too much that it gives you a headache, right? I’m a big fan of Ahava’s Mineral Botanic Honeysuckle & Lavender Body Lotion. It’s scented just the right amount and also really hydrating for your skin.

Want to win some of these products? Here’s how: 

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here.

Falling in Love on Fridays: I Am Not My Hair

This week’s Falling in Love on Friday’s post is by one of my dear friends from college, Allison. Though I haven’t seen here in years — since her last layover in New York for a night — she inspires me every single day via Gchat and witty Facebook statuses. She’s one of those people who feel and care with their whole heart, and as this blog will tell you, with her whole head of hair, too. Her post goes to show the bigger meaning behind Falling in Love on Fridays: you don’t just fall in love with men or people, sometimes you fall in love with things as simple, and yet as necessary, as… hair. She’s doing something ridiculously awesome and brave that I’m totally supportive of – but you have to read to the end to find out what it is. Learn more about the beautiful Allison here, and to learn how to submit your own Falling in Love on Friday story here

I Am Not My Hair

July 8th, 1986

I emerge from the womb in a Long Island hospital, screaming bloody terror at 10:35 in the morning. The doctor who delivers me declares “It’s a girl! Look at that hair!”

Kindergarten, picture day

The school photographer calls me “Curly Sue,” and would continue to do so until the fifth grade.

Every morning of my childhood

sassyMy dad gets me ready for school, and lacking any knowledge about little girl’s fashion or hair, lets me wear whatever I want. To do my hair, he makes me lay upside down on the couch and bunches all the crazy blonde curls into something vaguely resembling a bun. Sort of. I look at the Disney princesses. Their hair is flat and pretty. I look at the villians. Theirs is messy and curly and wild. Princesses never have to have their wild hair stuck up on their head.

First day of seventh grade

Standing at the bus stop in a plaid flannel shirt and JNCOs, with my hair still dripping wet, I press my hands against my hair and hope and pray it stays flat. It doesn’t. I will try this every day for many years.

Summer, 2003

I dye my hair so many different colors it turns orange. It gets huge and poofy and damaged. I look like Bozo the Clown, if Bozo the Clown wore green chuck taylors and punk tshirts. I cry on the way to my senior portraits, which will be someday documented in textbooks under the “worst hair in human history.”

Spring, 2006

I move into my first apartment with a fellow curly haired girl. She tells me to throw away my shampoo and my hairbrush and shares her products with me. I start getting real haircuts. The frizz starts to look like real hair again. A friend flatirons my hair once and I hate the way it looks.

Summer, 2007

Men love my hair! This assumption is based solely on a handful of weird dudes touching my head in bars, but I can only extrapolate to entire male population. More importantly, I love my hair. For the first time ever.  My personality becomes an extension of my wild curls, or vice versa – I’m not actually sure. I cut it short and wear big earrings. I grow it out and wear it in an updo on any day of the week. I tease it up and out and put on too much lipstick. I weep when fellow curly girls straighten their hair. I weep harder when a friend’s three year old curly headed daughter says she has “bad hair.”  What have we learned of princesses and villains and what it means to be wild?

January 11th, 2014

weddingI have some drinks in an arcade with some cute boys in the middle of a storm. We joke about shaving our heads. I tell them I would never. I love this hair too much. I make them all touch it. It’s so soft! It’s so pretty! It’s my thing, I tell them. A few hours later, my best friend asks if I wanted to participate in St. Baldrick’s with her, in which we will shave our heads to raise money for children’s cancer research. I say yes. She makes sure I am sober. I am. I use the word “YOLO” anyway. I send a text to my mom that says “Don’t freak out, but I’m shaving my head in a few weeks.” (It’s less permanent than the previous two “Don’t freak out” text messages, which have been followed by “….but we all got matching tattoos,” and “I got another one, and it’s pretty huge.”)

In the three days since we’ve committed to shaving our heads, we’ve raised $900 to help fund research for childhood cancers, which are severely underfunded and under researched.  Our goal is $2500 by March 1st, when she and I will publicly get our heads buzzed and the thing that has been so linked with my identity will lie in a pile on the ground. For three days I’ve been looking up scarves and wigs and hats and imagining all the dramatic ways I can now get away with doing my makeup. I’ve tried to figure out how long my hair will be for the wedding I’ll be in later this year.

I’ve also been thinking about what it means to be bald. This is a choice, for me. I get to dictate what happens to my body, and what I claim to be linked with my identity. I get to find it liberating and freeing and I get to think about how much time and money I’ll save. But for so many people it is not a choice. Children with cancer don’t get choices, and I hope you’ll join me in changing the odds. To make a donation, visit here.

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here

The Little Red Dress

After my interview with the New York Post on Thursday about what makes me the most desirable single in the city (Disclaimer: I still have no idea!), the reporter sent me an email about the photo shoot.

Now, I’ve had photo shoots before (thanks to many photographer friends in college) but the idea of having my photo taken for all of the five boroughs to see with a headline about being the most eligible single – that just felt like a whole lot of pressure I wasn’t quite ready for.

Or rather, my closet wasn’t prepared to handle.

Quickly, I texted my friend E, who is  a sassy, talented designer for a small label that sells to big labels, like Anthropologie, begging for her expert advice. We met post-work and scoured the racks of H&M, then the sale section of Bebe and just as we were about to brave the mayhem of the Times Square Forever 21, we stumbled across Cache – a store I haven’t been in since my pageant days in the deep South.

And there it was: the red dress.

E and I both spotted it instantly and I hesitantly looked at the tag, hoping and praying it’d be under $50 and thus, on budget. When the numbers almost quadrupled that, I sighed and reminded myself there was always the wear-once with the tags and return option, should the dress be exactly what I was looking for and I couldn’t resist.

And it was exactly what I was looking for: it hugged in all of the right places, showed a little skin but not too much, a sexy back opening, past my knees and looked great in heels. As I stood in front of the mirror in the terribly hot dressing room while E took a picture to see how it would look in print, my anxiety started to build.

I knew I needed to save money for Europe and watch my spending before I leave. I knew I was making every effort to spend as little as I could during the week so I could splurge on the weekend. I knew there were so many more responsible, reasonable things I could buy with nearly $200 but if there was ever a dress that was made for me, this was it.

Forget a little black dress -I rarely wear one. My color has always been (and let’s be honest, will probably always be) red. I handed over my card, caught my breath and vowed that I wouldn’t keep it – I’d just wear it for this special shoot and I’d always have a newspaper page to remember it by.

Or, so I thought.

When I walked out of the studio to show the photographer my selection, she said two words: “Wow. Perfect.” And as I stood in front of many bright lights in six-inch heels, sucking in what I could, standing up straight, trying to hold Lucy so she faced the camera, smile and pop my foot all at the same time – I did feel rather gorgeous. (And a little uncoordinated.)

I could hardly sleep Saturday night, anticipating the arrival of my first big feature in a daily paper, wondering what the article would say and what I would look like.  I raced at 8 a.m. on Sunday, unable to sleep a wink more to the newsstand a few blocks down. When I saw it, I couldn’t help but jump up and down in the street and buy 10 copies, excitedly showing the not-English-speaking vendor my photo.

After updating every social platform I could, I went back to the red dress, hanging up with pride in the front of my closet, the tags still on, the receipt hanging from my bulletin board. And even though I probably can’t afford it – I decided to keep it. Off with the tags and goodbye to my proof of purchase – I wanted this beauty as a staple.

Because everyone needs a little red dress.

Or a little yellow one or blue one. A little something to make them feel a little (or maybe a lot) good about themselves. Besides – red is a great dress to wear on my next great first date…

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This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize! Learn more here. Submit here

7 Things With Tiny Hearts That I Love

When my friends or family give me gifts, they almost always have one of two themes: covered in hearts or miniature in size. I love delicate, small things and anything that promotes love, I will wear. My father bought me a huge gold necklace that says “Love” in cursive for my birthday, and for Christmas, my mom bought a tiny “Amore” on a long chain (in honor of my upcoming Italian lessons!). I also have a heart-shaped teacup set that I absolutely adore and won’t let anyone drink out of (because that makes sense). Most of the decor in my room has some sort of heart emblem and admittedly, if given the chance to scribble on something, you’ll likely see a heart in my poor, unorganized handwriting.

We all need just a small little bit of love in the new year – in whatever form that might be – so here are some products to inspire you:

Little Hearts Necklace
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$11 on Etsy

Gold Love Print
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$25 on Etsy

 

In Love Sunglasses
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$16 on Urban Outfitters

Infinity Love Scarf

scarfy$35 on Etsy

Heart It Ring

heart-it-ring$8 on Urban Outfitters

Moschino Heart Red Leather Gloves

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$220 at Forzieri

Kate Spade Heart Tights
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$32 at
Bloomingdale’s

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize! Learn more here. Submit here

It Looks Great On Me

After weeks of bipolar New York City weather, the clouds parted just enough to allow a sliver of sunshine to grace the Hudson river. I felt the breeze tickle my back as the light warmed my face, and even though I didn’t have anything particularly exciting or enlightening to smile about, a grin appeared anyway.

With only a few more blocks to go, I slowed my pace just enough to enjoy the walk but not enough to be late to meet my friends at the Boat Basin on the Upper West Side. It was a night dedicated to a children’s charity and to buying (many) glasses of wine in support. When I finally met up with J and entered the establishment, a few brilliant rays of light beat into the patio, putting a stunning haze over everyone. And in my red off-the-shoulder dress, feeling the heat of the sunset seep into my eyes, I felt something that I haven’t felt in a while:

Beauty.

Maybe it’s been the unpredictable weather or my Accutane hangover, but it’s been some time since I’ve truly felt beautiful. Sure, after a long shower and the right spritz of perfume, I’ve felt attractive enough to flirt up the bars. Or at least confident enough to pretend I felt prettier than I really do. It’s taken longer than I ever expected — nearly two years — to shed the lingering effects of the end of my relationship with Mr. Possibility. It took me nearly a year to realize how his snide comments or constant effort to compare me to other women took it’s toll on me. And it’s taken me another year to release those negative words from my memory. For all the good he gave me and the things he taught me, pointing out my flaws was something that I didn’t fully digest the harshness of until I was completely emotionally removed.

But you know, it’s not all his fault. It’s actually more my fault — I have, after all, been repeating the you-must-be-perfect mantra since high school. The song didn’t stop sounding sweet until I finally faced what I didn’t like and well, took control of it. I officially ran my first 10K this past weekend, I’ve lost nearly 15 pounds in the past 9 months and by some stroke of modern medicine miracles — I don’t have to wear makeup anymore.

And sure, those things matter but what matters more is that I feel attractive from the inside out. Cliche, for sure – but truth all the same. Before you can create that simple confidence and bask in the natural, not-even-close-to-perfect beauty that is yours — you have to believe it.

You have to believe it until you actually feel it.

Maybe it’s by humming a new tune to remind yourself that you’ve got it going on. It could be as easy as putting your focus on being happy instead of being the best. Or it could be taking time to dream and fostering those positive thoughts into everything you do. It can be remembering to smile in a city that’s full of grimaces and frowns. Or teaching yourself to look past the faults of others to discover beauty in places you didn’t see before.

However you do it, however long you have to try to find it – once you do, something remarkable happens:

People notice it.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been called a goddess by a barista at Starbucks. A man with a vintage camera asked to take my photo on my way into Chelsea Market because he wanted to capture my glow. At the charity dinner, I caught more glances than I have this entire year. A handsome stranger stopped me on the side of the street just to remind me that I was beautiful. My friends have noticed my clear skin, the freckles they’ve never seen because I’ve always worn so much coverage and a kick in my step that hasn’t been kickin’ in months. I’ve finally started showing my teeth in pictures — going against the advice of Mr. P who always told me I didn’t have a good enough smile for that. I’ve gone out on two quite successful dates with a guy who I’m excited to go on a third date with — and I didn’t do myself up either time to see him.

Instead, I came as myself.

And you know what? Being natural, smiling, laughing, confident and dare I say it, beautiful… it looks great on me.