Women know just how difficult it is using makeup to achieve “the natural look.” That dewy, fresh-faced appearance of having just stepped out of the shower takes painstaking application and plenty of time. The principle holds true for hair and clothing styles as well. I used to drive my hairstylist crazy by bringing in photos of my favorite celebrities with their wavy, wind-tousled hairstyles. She would patiently explain to me the hours it took to get and keep that beachy, natural look.
There’s a concept called “studied casualness,” which refers to any look that appears thrown together but in reality has been carefully wrought. I have seen it applied not only to personal appearance but to interior decorating and photography. Any time something looks appealing but easy and effortless, you can bet that a lot of work actually went into it.
This concept applies to many other facets of life. For example, actors who inhabit a completely different character make us believe in their total transformation. They don’t seem to be acting, but rather they are the character they’re portraying. Great athletes also make their moves look effortless. Slam dunks, triple axels, balance beam dismounts, and graceful football passes all look easy. It is only when you see the athlete sweat that you realize the skill and concentration behind the move.
Last weekend, I participated in a piano recital along with students ranging in age from 7 to 17. As I watched the best performers, I noticed that their fingers seemed to fly easily and fluently over the keys. Yet I knew from personal experience that playing a difficult piece on the piano requires concentration, effort, and hours of practice. And playing in front of an audience is a nerve-wracking experience. Luckily I only do it once a year!
So whether it’s someone speaking a foreign language, throwing a baseball, playing guitar, or looking fabulously casual, realize that it didn’t come naturally. All good things take effort and time. It’s only natural!