Every week, our accountant comes around to collect all our invoices for that week to total up the expenditure for that week to save having to do it all in one go at the end of the month. She’s a young girl and we always have a friendly chat because we both like cars and just to be social. About three weeks ago she came in and mentioned that she was in such a rush that she’d not put her makeup on. I gave her a funny look, there was, as per usual a thick, visible layer of makeup covering her face. So I challenged her on this and she said that she’d not finished it. Then I noticed as she was pointing it out that she was missing the thick eye shadow that she normally sported.
I was genuinely perplexed as to why she was so worried about being without her makeup and I think I made a passing remark about her being pretty enough to not need it. The topic naturally moved onto other things and nothing more was said. Nothing of value at least. But a week later she comes around again and this time, no makeup; or at least, so little makeup that I (a man) am unable to see. For the record, even though it’s totally irrelevant, I wasn’t wrong: she is really good looking without any warpaint on. Now she’s turned up twice without makeup on and it’s got me wondering whether it’s because I called her out on it.
First of all, I’m a man. I have no right or business telling a girl what to do or what the wear or how to look. The fact that I did at all makes me a little uncomfortable and paranoid that I only told her that because I wanted to see her without makeup. But thinking carefully about it, the reason I mentioned it at all was because she looked so distressed about being without her makeup on. This is something I can relate to because I suffer from agoraphobia, one of the most debilitating social anxiety disorders there are and I have to have my own ‘safety blanket’ to deal with it. For myself, I have a pair of fingerless leather driving gloves that I like to wear, they give me a small sense of empowerment that I lack in dealing with people and public spaces and I was getting the impression that our accountant was treating their makeup in a similar way. I could be very wrong about all of this and either projecting onto her or just overthinking it, but it got me thinking.
The act of telling her she didn’t need makeup could have had multiple motivations behind it: one self-serving; and the other from genuine concern. I’d like to think that an off-hand complement gave her a small boost to her self-confidence, something a lot of us need and that it made things just a little bit better. But at the same time, my actions from an outside perspective could be perceived as being purely for my own needs, and that paradox where the same action can have wildly different motivations is something I see everywhere, especially in politics and business. But for some of us, we find ourselves doing the right thing first, without thinking and can sometimes suffer repercussions for it and others do the wrong thing first. I’m not going to sit here typing this and claim that I’m not a prick, in the past my actions would have been solely self-serving and I’ve had to spend a lot of years growing up and trying to be a better person and even this, questioning my actions, asking myself did I do what I did for the right reasons is part of that on-going process.
None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. We can all do things that rub people up the wrong way and unless someone tells you that you’re doing it all wrong, it’s very hard to change and to grow. I have spent many years looking inwards at myself, trying to work out what’s wrong with me, and once I did, I found my self-respect and I hope others can find themselves too.