We all have the perfect scenario for running in to an ex. We all hope we’ll look our best, that we’ll be with our new significant other and they’ll look their best. That, no matter who broke up with who, we’ll have the perfect in-your-face “yes I’m doing well without you” look. Sunday night, I did NOT have that perfect moment.
Sunday evening I was beaming from the purchase of a new car and just wanted to drive everywhere. Figuring that I needed content and a treat, I decided that everywhere should be out to a client who serves gelato. So Ernesto, his mother, and I got into my new ride and headed out.
It was warm for a late evening and we were all feeling cheery. As we walked up to the door I saw him. Sitting in a small group, looking good and well put together, was my ex. Sure he looked different, but I also hadn’t seen him since we broke up. As we made eye contact I knew it was him. Looking at him I could almost hear his thoughts. “Oh great, she’s here”.
In that moment I realized two things at the exact same time.
1. I definitely did not look my best. No makeup, hair pulled back,wearing a basic outfit.
2. Standing beside me was Ernesto wearing red, white, and blue sneakers with wings on them, paint covered shorts, and four small hair buns that were sticking up like antenna.
The moment we were inside I turned to Ernesto and said, “___ is outside”. He laughed and laughed and apologized for having four buns in his hair. His laughter sent me in to a fit of giggles. As we stood there cracking up about this ridiculous situation I realized I was having more fun with the goof-ball I was with than I had when I was with the other guy. It didn’t matter what we looked like in that moment. We were laughing together, smiling, and sharing moments that would be even funnier years down the road. I didn’t need to look my best.
So then I wondered, what is my best? Is it when I’m dressed to the nines with a full face of makeup and gown? Or when I’m wearing my favorite blazer and slacks with sharp heels and a button up? Or when I have that post workout glow in yoga pants, tight tank, and my daily light makeup? Or is it exactly how I was? Loose duster sweater, my Chucks, shorts, and my favorite band tank. What defines my best.
And why is it that we are hardwired to believe we have to look like we’re at the top of our game? What would looking my best prove? Sure the words “you’ll be nothing without me” play through my head, but why do I have to look my “best” to prove that’s not true? I was there to generate content for a client, for a business I created. The reason I was there would’ve been proof enough if we had talked.
So, how do we change this mentality? How can we make it so that future generations don’t feel guilty or ashamed because they don’t look “good” when they run in to someone from their past? I believe it starts with us. Like body image and the rules of beautiful, the conversation needs to change.
I no longer want to look my “best” when I see someone significant. I want to be in the middle of doing my best. Working hard, enjoying my time, whatever it may be in that moment. I want to be proud of what I’m doing when they see me. I want the smile I’m wearing to be genuine. We have to make these mental changes and break these barriers so that we can pass it on down the line. It starts with us.