I’ve been meaning to write this piece since my first week here, but I put it off since it’s still a bit of a sore topic. Since it’s my last day at Lovelyish, however, I think now is the time.
Most of us go through periods in which we feel we know where our lives are “supposed” to take us career-wise; sometimes we’re right, sometimes we’re wrong. Considering I never did become a marine biologist or an astronaut, nor do most other people who share these dreams as children, I think it’s safe to say that I’m not alone in the “I thought wrong” column.
Before deciding to become a writer, I was a makeup artist for four years. It was an amazing time (in fact, a video I did and am technically in just won a Latin Grammy!), but I am glad that I no longer am pursuing it as a permanent aspiration.
As a kid, I used to read Bobbi Brown: Teenage Beauty over and over and over every single night. I also loved Kevyn Aucion’s Making Faces and Face Forward, as well as various other beauty-related books, but Bobbi Brown’s is the one that influenced me the most. At 12, I would apply my makeup to look like Gwen Stefani’s in No Doubt videos and take disposable camera photos while pouting in the mirror (it would appear I was blatantly sprinting to dive headfirst into hipsterdom, I am aware).
In elementary and middle school, I would do my friends’ makeup for funsies at our slumber parties. I’m sure I mostly used glitter from Bath & Body Works and cheap, ugly frosted lipstick (pro-tip: all frosted lipstick is cheap and ugly), but it was fun nevertheless. In high school, I would do portrait, prom and Halloween makeup. I read every piece of makeup-related literature that I could get my hands on and learned how to do the techniques that would be most effective, how to tell which products to use and chemical/safety info.
Finally, I got to college and a friend of mine randomly asked me to help out with makeup on his friend’s film set for free (something I was totally fine with for months, as I wasn’t yet very experienced). After that, I began working constantly. Throughout my sophomore and junior years of college, I was almost always on set for 36 hours each weekend, whether it was a short film, music video, commercial or photo shoot. Nobody minded that I hadn’t gone to school for it; they just cared that I showed up and was good at what I did. I found it so thrilling to meet wonderful people and experience fun situations, so I decided it was what I would try to do for the rest of my life. Though I was already getting a degree in writing at a small private school in Southern California (i.e. also the perfect place to do makeup), I didn’t think writing would take me anywhere, nor did I particularly care if it did.
After realizing I wanted to pursue makeup as a career, I spent the majority of my money from freelance and retail jobs on beauty products, brushes, cases… everything went right back into makeup. I loved what I did, made some money doing it and met the majority of my friends/boyfriends from the last four years because of it. I would wake up ready for set and go to bed excited for the next day.
I got to travel on a regular basis and meet new people all the time. I went to fun parties, saw a lot of screenings and almost always came home happy. Sure, I was chronically busy and regularly did not finish my college coursework; however, I figured I wasn’t going to be a writer anyway, so why care?
But while many of my experiences were beautiful, beneficial and awkwardly fantastic (like accidental porn, for example), I began getting starkly aware around mid-2011 that I didn’t really enjoy my job anymore. I felt like I was typically just making attractive people more attractive and the process was getting banal. I started having more sleep problems than ever before and actually missed a full day of set once because I didn’t wake up for the carpool, which led to my having an insane panic attack (I hate disappointing people/being a disappointment). Being around people whom I cared about while working didn’t make me feel more fond of them. In fact, it just made me irritable, which is never a good sign. Plus, I don’t even like 90% of actors, and constantly stopping my eyes from rolling every time one told me he or she was “so close” to making it was getting progressively more difficult. Eventually, I didn’t gain any energy from going to set; it was exhausting and I was exhausted.
Plus, being realistic is important, and I realized that regardless of the fact that I didn’t truly love the work anymore, I also wasn’t good enough to “make it.” I was adequate. I wasn’t the best, I wasn’t the worst. I was just… pretty decent, and I didn’t really feel like doing something permanently that I wasn’t interested in nor was I exceptional at.
So earlier this year, I stopped seeking work and only said “yes” when people asked me specifically. At first, it was sort of bizarre to have all these free weekends, but it was wonderful at the same time. I started caring about school and actually putting in effort. I met people in my major at college, as opposed to exclusively those who worked in and around film. With my newfound time and energy, I was able to finish my manuscript, do well in classes, work occasionally and focus on myself. I got out of a bad relationship and began going on dates. I started working out and eliminated some negative habits.
I also realized which direction I really want my life to go in (at least, for the foreseeable future). Though I was a Creative Writing major with an emphasis in poetry and never, ever thought I’d wind up doing creative nonfiction/journalism, I wound up doing a couple of confessional pieces and it suddenly dawned on me that I could actually make a living using my thoughts, analyzations and stories. I began writing for various websites until finally settling into about five that I write for on a regular basis (including Lovelyish!); as I’ve said, I am deeply grateful for all of these, as I think I’d be stuck doing something I don’t love half as much if not for them. And I definitely don’t think any of this would be possible if I hadn’t quit when I did.
Of course, some of the benefits of working as a makeup artist stuck with me. I still have fantastic friends as a result of these experiences, whether it was by directly meeting them on set or through other folks I worked with. I still have those wonderful memories (and can put those memories on a resume), as well as getting to draw from them when writing. I still have the ability to do anybody’s eyeliner while in a moving car, tiny space or dimly-lit room. Plus, I’ve gotten to pet a lot of trained animals, and that is worth basically every bad minute I ever spent (seriously, until you’ve pet like 15 cats at the same time, life is not complete).
Lovelies, do you have any questions about makeup, becoming a freelance artist or anything else?