No not the Eminem song. I’ve literally been cleaning out my closet for the past few months but not the “Oh I can part with this shirt from the 7th grade” type of cleaning. I mean a deep purge. I know cleaning out one’s closet seems like a pretty normal (albeit tedious) task but this time around it’s carrying a much deeper and symbolic meaning for me. I’m getting rid of the faux-me. The pieces that went into the me I thought I “had to be” or was “supposed to be” are currently sitting in a partially ripped DSW paper bag.

To look at my closet pre-purge, I would see elements of other people and what I thought I had to be for them. There were the dainty sundresses and pearl necklaces to appear soft, feminine  and perfectly Southern. Or the club heels and bandage skirts I’d wear to parties and feel slightly uncomfortable in, knowing good and well I hate clubs/club attire/all things club-ish. (Seriously though, what’s the appeal? There’s nowhere to sit, heels hurt, drinks are overpriced, guys are annoying, and IT’S HOT! But I digress.). All of this for the sake of fitting in.

I feel like I always knew who I truly was or wanted to be. I saw glimpses of her in high-school when I wore mismatched neon knee-highs or my red patent leather wedges. I saw her in the silhouettes and colors I was drawn to but deemed “unfeminine” or “too hard”. Over the years she got drowned out by the self-imposed pressures to present myself a certain way in order to project a certain image. More importantly, I’ve realized I was doing these things for others more than for myself. Beyond clothing, this desire led me to hide away or subdue parts of my personality. I’d try to be super bubbly to dull my natural sarcasm or attempt to be more flirtatious (and Lord knows I can NOT flirt) and not display my full intelligence, as to not be too intimidating.  I would hold back from sharing my honest thoughts and opinions. I did all of this because I wanted the mark of approval of others. So, little by little, I’d don the items and tuck away pieces to gain whoever’s approval I was seeking at the time. Yet once I was alone, I’d feel a little off, empty, and wishing I’d had the guts to do or say what I really felt but didn’t because of fear of disapproval.

Now I am cutting myself some slack because the journey to finding, knowing and confidently rocking your real self takes time and well…confidence, which I was severely lacking for quite some time. Of course when you’re younger and trying to fit in, you’ll wear a plaid skirt and polo with Birkenstocks like everyone else in the 7th grade because you really did think it was cool. However, once I had the moment of enlightenment (almost a decade later), I realized I owed it to myself to focus more on finding the real me and worry less about everyone else. So now, I’m buying what I’m drawn to and trying new things out. I’m speaking up more and sharing my thoughts, even if it goes against everyone else (this still makes me uncomfortable at times). I’m allowing myself to exist in a way that makes ME feel great and doing so with increasing confidence. Like most things, this is still a work in progress because confidence takes time to build up but I like to think I’ve been getting pretty comfortable as my real self. It’s nice to finally meet her.

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