The Vulnerability Project

The Vulnerability Project

One large step into being comfortable in your own skin.

It was my junior year final project. I was taking an Arts Outreach class and the topic was vulnerability. We had been analyzing different perspectives of it for a few classes already, but now it was our turn to explain how each one of us can be vulnerable in our own ways. The teacher let us interpret our own definition of vulnerability; I defined it as “the act of stepping out of the comfort zone and ignoring all fears.” I wanted my project to be completely original/creative, but also wanted to gain some sort of benefit from it.

It wasn’t all that difficult to think of how I could be vulnerable. I don’t think of myself as a very closed person. I’m generally very open with people about myself and I’m not ashamed of myself. I like myself. The only aspect of myself that I hid from people was my face. I didn’t think I was very pretty without makeup. I felt better about myself with the black eyeliner to outlines my rather plain eyes and the pale foundation that matches my porcelain-like skin tone to cover up those regrettable, little red spots all over my forehead and chin. I didn’t think of myself as ugly, just not as very attractive as I was with makeup.

It wasn’t always this way. The root of my issue with my face started in middle school. I was going through phases and trying out new styles, like a typical middle-schooler, and one of the phases happened to not include makeup. And like a typical middle-schooler, I had one of those relationships that was a big deal at the time, but was really just a memory that seems funny now.

What happened was, I was hanging out with the boy one day during the no-makeup phase. I was actually feeling good about myself without all my eyeliner and foundation on. Little did I know that that feeling would not last very long. The boy looked me in the face and said, “You know, you should really wear makeup.” I am not paraphrasing, this is from verbatim.

So from that point on, I hated the way I looked without makeup. I started to “cake on” the makeup throughout the next couple years. That rude, little comment he made stuck with me despite moving on from that hurtful “relationship.” It still does to this day, but I wasn’t going to let it take over my life. When this project came around, I thought it would be the perfect time to let go the pain and torment I felt. The best way I could do that is to share my natural face with the most critical, public, and terrifying crowd a person could face, the internet.

My project looked like this: I took a picture of myself, plain as my face can be, no editing, no filters, no nothing. My face was cleaned and I pulled my hair away from my face. Every single freckle and red spot was available to the eye. The only makeup to be found was now on the remover wipe. Once I took the picture, it was time for the moment of truth. I opened the Instagram app, clicked the camera icon sitting at the bottom of my phone screen, selected the final picture, and added a spoken word I wrote on my story to the caption box. The only thing left for me to do was select “share.” Once I did that, there was both a sigh of relief & added tension to how people would respond. I received nothing but love. I accomplished my goal of being vulnerable and became a confident adult in the process. Despite degrading cultural norms, I became confident in my natural skin.

I encourage every person to try something like this at some point in their lives. You truly can't know how things will turn out unless you give things a chance.

Cover Image Credit: Samantha Ledbetter

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A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.

I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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