Reimagining Beauty & Choosing Authenticity in 2022

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Neha Sangwan: Hi everybody, and welcome! Today I have a special guest, Jess Condy. She is a friend I met five years ago in Bali. Some of the fun ways she expresses herself in the world is as a coach, as a yacht chef, and as a world traveler, welcome Jess.

Jessica “Jess” Condy: Thank you, so lovely to be here with you.

Neha Sangwan: I know; I’m so excited. So, we just reconnected after several years — met five years ago on an adventure in Bali, and now we’re taking our adventure virtual. 

So, thank you for agreeing to have this conversation around change, around transition, and how we do it. Go ahead, Jess.

Jess Condy: I was just going to say I think these conversations are just so important that this time.

Neha Sangwan: Yeah, it feels like the world is changing so fast — and a lot of it out of our control — and so this idea of us learning this skill [to adapt to change] seems paramount. Have you been seeing this as well with your clients?

Jess Condy: Absolutely. I think people are just needing these conversations more and more. I think people feel very disconnected and lost more than ever. And I think that having these conversations and being really authentic in what you’re going through is important that sharing your vulnerability and sharing the hardships that you’re kind of enduring at the time. 

We’re all going through our challenges, and I think to kind of keep posting on the highlight reel of life, people get really disheartened to see the highlight reel of what everyone is doing, as opposed to the truth of what’s really going on behind closed doors. 

So I think having these conversations and shining a light on what’s really going on is a great invitation for others to know that they’re not alone.

Neha Sangwan: Well, I think it’s a skill that we’re going to need to learn as a world, because for a very long time posting the highlight reel of our lives —which of course you’ve got a lot of because you’re traveling to all these amazing destinations on yachts— but you know, it’s a beautiful balance and it’s part of what I liked from the beginning of meeting you, Jess, which it feels like a counterbalance, like [showing the highlights] are wrong or bad. They’re amazing. 

Wouldn’t it be great to also have the counterbalance weight of being able to be real and authentic — doesn’t that make your life more full? So, this whole idea of transition / change, whatever it is: 

  • New calendar year
  • New season
  • New job
  • New home 
  • New relationship

It seems to be that one of the primal reactions people have is very extreme: either, “I’m never dating anybody like that again,” or “We gotta get out of here” and they want something completely different. Or setting prolific new year’s resolutions and goals: “I can lose 15 pounds, and I’m going to change my hair, upgrade my look,” — all of these experiences are almost in reaction to what’s happened. 

Sometimes it’s like the rubber band effect, when the rubber bands been pulled too far and then it snaps back. It feels a little bit like that [in our world]. I wanted to ask us to come up with a new way to share with people who are thinking about [change], but they don’t want another New Year’s resolution. 

Again, [big, ostentatious goals] is another way to beat myself up because by the end of the first month of me doing [this new thing] — I’ve failed. What’s another way that we can talk to more gently and kindly navigate through change? One of the ways I thought is this — what if we our ONLY job in each of these [difficult] experiences that we’re having is to take the lessons from it and become a more truer version of ourselves.

Jess Condy: I think that is so beautiful, and I think it’s so important right now, because it’s been so long as human beings that we’ve had the “disease to please.” We have really tried to be everything for everyone else, and I think we’ve put a lot of our own dreams, wishes, hopes on the back burner. Instead of doing what’s really true for us, we’ve done what’s true for our mothers, our brothers, our sisters, our husbands, our wives, whatever it is — I think we’ve neglected what’s truly within us. 

I think the invitation to step more fully into who we are and to know to those parts of ourselves is a beautiful way to start off this next year and to step into that which is true for us. To honor [ourselves], and every day do things that are more in alignment with who we are, where we going, what we want to create, and the vision we have for our lives moving forward.

Neha Sangwan: Oh, I love that. So, let’s talk beauty. 

When I think of beauty and I think of you I think of an expanded perspective of that. I’ve seen a beautiful plate of octopus dressed with purple. What was it like purple cauliflower. Oh my gosh. So when I see the way that you present food in the physical world, you don’t just want to make sure it’s delicious — you want to make sure it’s beautiful. It’s it’s appealing not only to the taste buds, but also to the sight, vision, all senses. 

So when I think of beauty, I think of it in many realms — I also think of it in physical beauty. We were just talking about how oftentimes people set a goal to lose weight or change how they look. That’s also an aspect of beauty. I used to have resistance to talking about beauty, because I thought it was superficial and I thought, “I need to be focusing on my education and my thought.” (Obviously, paying attention to what I received accolades for growing up is really important to me!) 

But I now understand that beauty is all of these things, and more. It’s the smile on a little child’s face, the giggling and the pitter patter of their feet — there’s so many ways that I find beauty in the world now. That has only happened because in the past few years, I actually got a parasite on my travels and became sick. As I navigated that, I had to my literally my hair started shrinking. It was pretty much 6-inches longer than this, but it started shrinking. I had always blown it out, full, and had great volume. And then suddenly, I was losing hair and it was shrinking. 

So one of the ways that I realized in the past year or two that I have navigated becoming a more truer version of myself was that when my hair got this short — but I basically needed to have curly hair for it to be voluminous enough to balance out my face. So not only did I pull out an old picture of myself to remind myself that this is becoming a truer version of me. I don’t remember another picture, after I was about seven- or eight-years-old that my hair was ever curly. 

So becoming a more true version of myself was me making peace with that younger version of me. Do you have anything around the physicality of the world that feels feels like you’ve become a truer version of yourself?

Jess Condy: Absolutely. I think, especially as women, we have an innate desire within us to create beauty. For me, that’s what really comes out in my food [presentation] and in everything I do. I try and create beauty in the world that I exist in. I love things that are aesthetically pleasing, and I’m a Taurean as well, so I love to create a sensory experience. 

What’s so important [to remember] is that [beauty] comes from the inside, and I think when we start to make peace with who we are inside, then we create beauty in all aspects of our life. But it’s it’s an inner job first. 

As you said, “as you’ve gone on this journey of healing,” and I think that’s where it really stems from — as we go on these journeys of healing ourselves within, we heal ourselves on the outside, too. As we start to see more beauty within us, we start to be able to see more beauty around us, because the world is abundant and beautiful. 

When you look at nature, it’s just so full.

Look at the flower, it’s just like this natural phenomenon. 

Look at the ocean, we can be mesmerized for hours. 

And sometimes, we’re so busy in our life, so busy in judgment or comparison, that we miss out on all this natural beauty that is around us. From me, the invitation to all women is create something beautiful in your life every single day and enjoy it. See it, feel it, taste it, smell it. Have those moments of pure joy and pure beauty just for you and just because.

Neha Sangwan: Wow. 

Jess, as I’m looking at you, I [notice] your beautiful curls, because now I’m back to the curls, too. Something just came to me, as you said, “Look around you, look at the differences and the contrasts, and rather than judging them, see the beauty in those differences.” 

What I would tell you in response is — now I know why these curls were such a problem for me. They were a problem for me, because nobody else in my family had curly hair. When we look around us for a sense of belonging, to be accepted [into] what society puts on the covers of magazines and calls “beautiful.” That was something I was so deeply influenced by, because what I saw was the discrepancy between that “beauty” and me. 

And [the curls] became ugly or not right, and I had people around me, my sibling, telling me that this isn’t right, “Something’s wrong with you. You don’t belong in our family. Look, you don’t look like the rest of us, as siblings do.” 

We’re young and and children have that talent of pointing out anything they see that’s different or they don’t like or they don’t know. What’s interesting is as I look at you, I see beauty in curls, and so isn’t it really interesting that I could judge myself very differently than I see you. Same curls — but it doesn’t have all of that [emotional] weight attached to it. 

So what about you and curls? Have you ever battled with them, or is that something you’ve made peace with?

Jess Condy: I mean, my hair can be wild! I can look like a crazy wild lion. When I get off the ocean, I look like a bit of a scarecrow, but I’ve learned to just embrace it. There definitely have been times in my life where I haven’t cut my hair. I think as women, we are so judgmental on ourselves. We really are our harshest critic, and it’s quite sad. 

That’s what we’re talking about here, is really learning to love ourselves more, accept ourselves more, and become more of who we really are. So for me being this wild child as wild woman, I’m embracing all of the wild at the moment and I love it. 

Wild hair, don’t care!

Neha Sangwan: Did you say, “Wild hair, don’t care”? I love it! 

I love coming up with a a phrase, a mantra, something that when when that voice [of comparison] creeps in can be a way to remind yourself of how you want to feel when you feel free. Free of that judgement. 

Jess Condy: Make it fun! I think the whole point here. Why have we been taking ourselves so seriously for so long? We’ve got to bring back our childlike sense of joy, that play, to have fun. Just let it go!

Neha Sangwan: Really, if we think about it, how crazy would the world be — how boring would it be — if we all looked the same? It would be awful. It just wouldn’t be interesting. 

That’s a really important piece here — which is to bring to light something in your life on a physical level. Let’s just start there. That maybe something you’ve been rejecting, consciously  or subconsciously. Maybe something you’ve noticed yourself continually trying to adjust or change. 

Ask yourself, where did it come from? Where did this start? When is the earliest that I remember feeling or thinking this way? Whose voice do I remember hearing telling me something wasn’t okay, or when did I notice that I didn’t feel like I belonged. What picture did I see that someone told me was more beautiful? 

So, in the physical space, what is one belief you have about yourself that you’ve outgrown? [What’s the thing you’ve tried to change] that you can now embrace? 

Whether it’s, “Wild hair, don’t care!” what whether it’s curls and finding a little picture of me that helps me be a little more myself. What’s one way that you can start to embrace who you are and become a truer version of who you are in this next chapter?

Jess Condy: For me, I’ve always kind of been the black sheep of the family. I’ve always been on this wild adventure that was very true for me, but I still felt like I had to explain myself to people. I would come home, I would try and explain [myself], and I would try to fit back in the box. 

And it just would take me back into this triggered space that really was not serving me in any way, shape, or form. 

But what do they say? Do you think you’re spiritual? Spend a week with your family!

Neha Sangwan: Yeah, and listen to what they say with a new lens, a new level of hearing, an expanded perspective — not to make them bad or wrong, but to learn where these voices [of judgment] came from. I think it will help people become clearer. 

Whatever transition you’re in, whatever next chapter that change has brought — whether it’s a calendar year or a circumstance in life — the question really becomes, “how are you going to meet it?” 

What would you like to do to become a more truer version of yourself? If you’re struggling with that, where did those voices [of doubt] come from? Are you ready to let them go? 

Thank you Jess, thank you for your wisdom, your thoughts, and for sharing of yourself.