For many who struggle with depression, a negative self-image is one of the most important battles to fight.
At such a young age, we learn from the media what is and isn't deemed "beautiful." We absorb what sort of characteristics make someone important.
Developing depression at such a young age made me ultra-sensitive to these societal standards.
I grew up considering myself unworthy of the sort of attention most people get because of what I lacked physically and mentally.
At age 6, I began to show signs of anxiety.
I was paranoid, absolutely certain I was a target for crimes, bullying, or any of the other tragedies that could strike a second grader.
By the time I was 13, I believed I was the tragedy.
I thought this was a normal feeling that all people had about themselves, so I took comfort in knowing I wasn't an unusual case.
I believed I was already getting the teen angst and drama out of the way, but as I made my transition into high school, my mental health began to take a turn for the worst.
The social expectations and academic pressures of school left me constantly frustrated and drained of energy.
I spent any time away from school and homework simply being alone since I didn't feel like I was good enough to hang out or go shopping with my friends.
During this difficult time, I felt a lot of pessimism toward others. I gave in to the judgments and cynicism, without as much as a second thought.
Even though I expressed negativity about other people, it really came from a dislike of myself. If you had asked me to write a list of what I didn't like about myself, I could have written you an entire novel.
High school years are a difficult time for a lot of girls... myself included.
I felt so out of place on a campus full of girls who fit the social standard of beauty. With my frizzy hair and curvy figure, I categorized myself as undesirable.
I started down the road to self-acceptance.
The first step to self-appreciation was realizing I was not powerless. I had the mental strength to change my mindset, and the physical ability to change what I disliked about myself.
None of the changes could happen instantaneously, but even just knowing in my heart I could make those changes was enough to ignite a spark of hope in me.
I was in no mental state to do anything drastic, so I started with the first thing I could think of: makeup.
A new look helped me process my emotions on my own.
I dabbled with makeup in the past, but not with any specific intention. Now that I took the time to learn techniques of proper makeup application, I had a more productive way to spend my extra time.
By learning how to do my own makeup, I was able to track my progress. Seeing that I was able to improve on a skill in such little time gave me the motivation to try my hand at other things.
If I could learn how to make a perfect cat eye, I could figure out how to cope with my negative feelings.
The truth is, makeup can't make depression go away. Maybe you'll like what you see on the outside, but you're still exactly who you were without the makeup on the inside.
What it does change is what you see about yourself. It was a great coping mechanism for me.
Instead of reaching out to friends or family for help (which is always a good idea), I was able to process my thoughts and emotions on my own.
If I was sad, I could express that in the makeup I put on my face.
If I was frustrated or angry, I could scribble eyeliner all over my face, and simply wash it off to reveal a clean slate underneath.
Instead of spending my spare time feeling bad for myself, I could practice new looks or watch tutorials online.
I was able to master winged eyeliner in about a month, which also gave that extra boost of confidence whenever I wore it.
I got a lot of positive attention for my makeup, which helped me see another side of myself and how others saw me.
Most importantly, I proved to myself I could change something when I wasn't happy. Changing yourself isn't always the best way to go, but knowing I could look like whatever I wanted was more powerful than I could have imagined.
When you're able to transform your features into whatever you choose, you'll see what you do does matter. Your actions make things happen, and you are an important piece of the world, whether you're wearing makeup or not.