By Kelly Bradley, Guest Blogger
When I was a little girl my parents let me pick out my own clothes. I would change my outfit, on average, three times a day. In the middle of July, I would wear a dress with Santa Claus on it. I preferred to have my straight blonde hair crimped and curly. And I can even remember a time I wore two different shoes because I could not decide between two pairs. I spent a good part of my childhood dressed up in mismatched, one-of-a-kind outfits, but that did not matter to me. At the time, I believed those mismatched outfits were fabulous. It never occurred to me to care what I looked like or what anyone else might think. I was unique. I was creative. I was beautifully me.
Inevitably, I became a teenager and then a young adult, and somewhere along the way, I started to care about my appearance. I became more conscious of other people’s opinions, and less of my own. I thought often about how other people saw me. Eventually, I became too scared to be myself; it was more important to fit in. I never wanted to open myself to ridicule or give anyone the chance to decide I did not belong.
I made sure to go unnoticed. I wore the same style of clothes as my friends and peers, I kept my hair straight, I stayed quiet, and I matched my thoughts and opinions to those of the people around me. In spite of my effort to look and think like everyone else, I (luckily) never lost the creativity I had as a little girl. I always had that individualism within me, but I kept it hidden from the rest of the world.
But over the course of a few years, I started to feel less afraid of being myself.
I’m not exactly sure why, but it is true that with age comes confidence. Or maybe it is acceptance. I reached my late-twenties and realized it was impossible to live up to the unrealistic assumptions of what I thought I should be. I realized I could spend my whole life trying fit in, or I could accept myself just as I am. I started making more decisions with my best interest in mind, not worrying about how anyone else would react. I recognized that my opinions were valid and important. And in regaining the self-confidence I kept hidden for so long, I began to have fun with fashion again.
These days, I do make sure my clothes match but I am remembering how fun it is to put together unique outfits. I am remembering how much I love wearing dresses and how pretty they make me feel. However, I also love my black leather jacket and the certain “toughness” it gives me. I wear stylish hats as often as I can, especially to random places like the grocery store. I’m learning to love bold red lipstick. I let my hair grow long, and then spontaneously cut it short. I paint my nails pink one day, and black the next. I am just as comfortable wearing five-inch heels as my Converse sneakers. What I love most about fashion is that it lets me explore different looks, while still being true to who I am.
I praise anyone who has the confidence to show the world exactly who they are. For me, it takes courage to purposefully stand out amongst the crowd. Actually, I have become comfortable occasionally stepping into the spotlight. The courage I seek has more to do with standing out and not caring what others might think or say.
By enjoying fashion and creating a unique style as I did when I was young, I am discovering the confidence I need to be me. I am able to show the world, but mostly myself, that I don’t need to fear individualism. People will always have opinions, but when it comes to me and my life, it is my opinion that matters most. I need to let my confidence shine because I am unique. I am creative. I am beautifully me.
Let’s Chat! Do you ever feel too afraid to be yourself because of what other people might think or say? How do you work to overcome this fear? Tell us here!
Kelly is a Midwestern girl, a daughter, sister, and friend. She earned her Bachelor’s degree (and currently works) in Fashion Merchandising, but has always had a passion for writing. Kelly also loves photography, music, and (of course) fashion. Kelly hopes to inspire young girls and women to discover and embrace what makes them truly extraordinary. Tweet her @KelBee6
image via independence.co.uk