A friend of mine recently posted a video on LinkedIn all about looking presentable on video conferences. It was really helpful, detailing things about lighting, backgrounds, camera angles and, most importantly, how to ‘be present’ and interact when you’re staring, not at a human being, but a camera.

The You Tuber had other videos, so expecting the same value, I watched another, only to turn it off after a few minutes when it appeared to be just a make-up tutorial. Even furloughed, I’ve got much better things to do with my life than obsess about make-up.

I caught myself feeling a bit superior until I remembered one of the You Tubers comments about make-up and grooming being all about how it makes you feel. I had a horrible experience a few weeks ago on a client video call when I realised too late that I’d not done my make-up. I didn’t look terrible, (maybe someone on the call might beg to differ though!) but once I caught sight of myself on screen, I felt my confidence wobble just a little.

So for the past few days, I’ve been doing an experiment. I’ve ditched the jogging bottoms and baggy jumpers in favour of things I’d happily go to Waitrose in (always my benchmark of presentability). I blew dry my hair instead of just leaving it to air dry and put on a little bit of make-up. Not much, just enough to distract from the worry lines and shadows I hope.

I’d like to be above it all and say that it’s made not a jot of difference to how I feel, but do you know what? It has helped. I feel more – together somehow. Maybe it’s just because I’m paying attention to myself? After living so much in my head, maybe any focus on the outer self delivers some balance and with it, some sense of calm.

My mum used to refer to make-up as ‘war paint’. I’m far from the front line of this fight, but I suppose each of us is battling to stay well, sane and solvent in these crazy times. If a touch of war paint helps, then so be it.

It’s not about doing or having…it’s all about being.

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