How Our Friends Can Illuminate Our Potential
A few weeks ago, my group of girlfriends and I gathered together for brunch and a clothing swap. I had such an uplifting time, laughed way too hard, and snagged some amazing pieces. We all sat around my friend's bed with piles of clothes splayed out for the clothing swap. It was only a few seconds of polite reservation as we collectively looked at the clothes, that we began to scavenge the mounds for treasure.
My friends fervently tossed items of clothing at me to try on, manifesting a bounty in my arms of pieces hand-picked for me. I obediently pulled the first shirt from the pile over my head. After trying on some more clothes, even with as much fun as I was having I started to feel self-conscious. It felt strange to see myself in styles that I wouldn't have deliberately chosen or picked out. I did not think the clothes looked good on me or fit me the way I was used to.
In the curated pile, was a bright blue tightly-fitted silk blouse I immediately rejected because I thought other people would think it was too flashy and inappropriate. I passed on a flowy mid-length skirt because I thought it was too girly and flirty for this former athlete and tomboy.
They were just clothes, but why did I feel so uncomfortable?
Clothes are an important expression of who I am and dressing up is usually a fun and effortless activity. I love putting outfits together and value individual style and taking fashion risks. But outside the styles that I consciously chose for myself (which surprisingly and unabashedly include Beetlejuice-striped wide-flared pants, a burgundy leather jacket, and floral jumpsuits), I realize I had these notions of what I could or couldn’t wear based on how I thought it would reflect my personality and how I thought it would be seen by other people.
I was surprised when my girlfriends remarked that I had to keep the blue blouse and flowy skirt because it was flattering on me. And after some contemplation, I realized that I could pull them off, and darn it, why hadn’t I worn these type of clothes earlier?
It made me think about what else I had stopped myself from experiencing because of arbitrary rules I placed on myself, often based on what people said and thought about me in the past. I had set limitations on what I thought I could wear because I didn’t want to be judged for looking risqué or because I didn’t feel like I was the cute kind of girl. It took my girlfriends and a light-hearted clothing swap to expand my idea of how I could express myself through what I chose to wear.
We sometimes live by rules and boundaries we don’t even realize we have set. We often care so much about what other people think and don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we're capable of. We don’t have to be confined to only being one or a few things, especially as women. We can be sexy, cute, flirty, athletic, a boss on any given day without feeling like a contradiction. And we can express different parts of us in different ways, including through what we wear.
"We don’t have to be confined to only being one or a few things, especially as women."
Sometimes the people around us can help us get out of our heads and parameters we unknowingly stand behind. Friends can help us see ourselves more clearly and without the harshness and rigidity we often place on ourselves.
What would happen if we just cared a little more about the things that matter, and a little less about the things that don't? If we just made decisions for ourselves based on only what was true and constructive, whether it's which outfit to wear, which ice cream flavor to eat, or what boundaries to set in relationships? I think I'd be a lot happier and, at the least more stylish ;). Thank God for friends that aren't afraid to tell you how great you are and illuminate the light already inside of you.