Ah, the proverbial slippery slope! For better or for worse, I’ve ridden it my whole life. Only if I can get away with it, of course--like the first time I skipped class in high school and didn’t get caught. Fast forward to graduation, and I’m voted “Most Likely to Skip Class” (with a 4.3 GPA, mind you--MIND YOU).
My latest example: I’ve realized that, the longer I’m at a job, the less I bother with a beauty routine.
Take my current office gig: On the first day, I allotted an hour and a half for getting ready in the morning. I straightened my hair, did a full-on eye look (multiple shadow shades, liner, mascara), applied perfume, wore contact lenses. I’m big on first impressions, and think I struck just the right chord.
But as I got comfortable, the omissions began. Eye makeup came first. I mean, really, who needs to spend the extra minutes perfecting eyeliner when it’s only being seen by the same eight people every single day?, I thought.
So I went into work without eyeliner and--lo and behold!--nobody gave a damn.
And so began my descent. I subsequently ditched eyeshadow, mascara, contact lenses, and even dry hair. (As we've previous established, though, I'll never not wear blush.) I now go into work with wet hair and glasses. The horror!
It’s not like I’ve hit rock-bottom. If a stranger walked into our office, I don’t think he or she would gasp at my appearance. Nobody has commented so far, but I imagine they’ve noticed.
This isn’t the first job in which it has happened, either. I must admit that, as a night owl, sleep is a factor. If I can squeeze in nine more minutes (the length of a default snooze on my phone) of sleep and forgo one step of my morning routine, I am all over that.
It makes me think of “The Office” (when it was good) when Jan holds a seminar with all the female workers, and she advises them to dress for the job they aspire to (at which point Angela muses that Jan must “aspire to be a whore” because her skirt comes maybe a hair above her knees).
But Jan makes a good point. My declining appearance is probably tantamount to waving a white flag and shouting, “I just don’t care anymore!” Even in a position without upward growth, it’s probably not wise to make such a declaration.
So I’m going to hoist myself up and out of this bad habit. I’m not saying that loads of makeup and hair product are necessary for professional success, but a perceived level of effort can only be beneficial. Thus, I’m keeping a few things in mind.
- Your morning minutes are worth a lot, because they dictate how you’ll face the rest of the day. If even five more minutes of prep means you’ll look more polished--and possibly feel more confident--for the many hours to come, that’s probably a good investment.
- And those extra five minutes need not truly be gained but shifted: perhaps simply by going to bed five minutes earlier. (Come on, you can skip Jon Stewart’s “Moment of Zen.”)
- If you’re in a traditional job with the potential for promotion, the higher-ups are watching your performance, first and foremost, likely followed by the overall package you present--which includes personal appearance. Like it or not, them’s the breaks, kid.
- Stuck in a dead-end job? That’s not really an excuse, guys. Opportunity is unpredictable.
And when you encounter it during your commute, in line at Starbucks or even in your own office, you’ll wish you’d done your makeup.