We all have certain things about ourselves that make us confident. But it's important to remember that confidence is something that evolves and changes over time. Therefore, the things that give us confidence should rightfully adapt with time as well.
I've hidden behind the dark veil of my bangs for almost 7 years now. I went from side bangs to straight bangs, then back to side bangs again. For me, bangs hid some of my insecurities: my uncurved, flatter forehead, my once large-and-in-charge eyebrows that I never knew how to properly groom. Bangs made me feel more comfortable in the skin I used to so despise-- the skin that I used to think was not so beautiful.
Around the time I got bangs, I started to wear makeup as well. At first, it was just a dark line above my eyelash line. Then, in eighth grade, I started wearing a powder foundation my friend gave me. I didn't know the shade was two shades too dark-- I just liked that it covered up my skin "blemishes" such as my freckles (which I hated at the time). While the powder was off and on, the eyeliner was a daily occurrence that only evolved. It grew in girth, length, and eventually spread to my lower lash line. I remember that one night in eighth grade when I was playing around with my (minimal) makeup and put a thin line of eyeliner on my lower waterline. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, I actually don't look bad," which was the first time I thought this in a while.
So, as the eyeliner grew (and I mean it grew, at one point I was a full-on raccoon), the bangs grew with it. From eighth grade until around tenth grade, I had long, ominous bangs that basically touched my eyelashes. I also wore dark eyeliner on my waterline, and below and above my lash line. I was told at one point by some friends that, before they met me, they thought I was emo. This was a sort of wakeup call to me since I didn't want people to get the wrong impression (no shame against the emo look, it just wasn't what I was going for). So, around 11th grade, I grew my bangs into side bangs. It was a new look, and I liked it. I had initially gone from side bangs to full bangs because I was insecure about my forehead, but after a few years of maturing, I had the confidence to show half (more like ¼) of my forehead. And yes, I repped the eyeliner every day, all day-- I still didn't feel confident without it.
In senior year, I still had the side bangs, but I started wearing less eyeliner. I also went from the "raccoon look" to the "cat-eye" look (AKA the infamous winged eyeliner). Essentially, my eyeliner stopped growing vertically and started growing horizontally. I also started a thing where I'd go "makeup-less" once a week (or in other words, I still wore foundation and top waterline but didn't do my winged eyeliner). On this one day, I would always feel fresher than ever-- I could wipe my eyes without fearing I'd smudge the line, and I wouldn't have to reapply the liner halfway through the day to make it dark and defined again. The catch was, I felt 10x less confident. Because of this, I went from normally pretty extroverted Emma to introverted Emma: I hung in the library more these days, talked less with people outside my friend circle, volunteered less in class, and so on. But it was still a step towards fully accepting my bare face.
When college first started, I still repped the same look: a lot of eyeliner with a lot of bangs on the side. But as the year progressed, there became more and more days where I wouldn't have time to put on eyeliner in the morning, or I'd have a short day and would be in my dorm most of the time (so why put in the effort in doing my makeup?). In addition, I no longer had the leisure of being 2 minutes away from my hair salon, which I would normally visit every 2 weeks for a quick bang trim (yes, I was now 22 minutes away, but it was nevertheless inconvenient). So, my bangs began to grow; they grew and grew, to the point where I started considering growing them out. This was the first time this thought crossed my mind in 7 years. I questioned my friends, family, and random acquaintances about this proposition, I was so unsure about it. I knew I hated my forehead, especially the feeling I'd get when someone would lift up my bangs, or I would do so myself and look in the mirror. I didn't like that version of myself. I'd see (what I thought was) a less-attractive girl and think, "Who is she?". Despite the many hesitations, I decided to grow them out. I felt comfortable in this decision, as if I didn't like the look, I could always cut my hair and get side bangs again.
I write this wearing no eyeliner, and showing around ¾ of my forehead, with my grown out side bangs tucked behind my ears. I want to say that I still feel beautiful, since I do, but I also feel hesitant, a bit reluctant… If I wasn't in the decent mental place I'm proud to say I am in now, I don't think I would have the confidence to rep the little-to-no bangs look. In addition, these days I probably only do my makeup and put on the "wing" around 1-2 times a week. The other 5-6 days I go for the natural, not too heavy look: a bit of foundation, eyebrow filler (due to my sparse brows) and upper waterline, all just so I don't look dead and sleep deprived (as I usually am).My bangs and black eyeliner have been with me through it all-- they've seen me at my darkest points and my highest. But I'm also happy and excited to be giving my forehead a glimpse of the sunlight for the first time in (what feels like) forever. It feels new and fresh, just like the way I'd feel on those days I don't wear eyeliner. Looking back to those days in eighth grade, where I couldn't picture myself having the confidence to leave the house without black raccoon-like eyeliner or my long bangs in my face, I'm happy to say I've come quite far. I still have a long way to go before I feel beautiful showing all fourths of my forehead or going out with a sincere fresh face. But still, I'd like to think that it's sometimes more important and meaningful taking a moment to look at the road traveled behind you rather than think about the dreaded road ahead.