Admit it, when you’re in high school, it’s hard to be yourself. For some, it’s the fear of not being accepted or understood that blocks them from showing who they really are, while others fall straight into the black hole of conformity. But, I’m not sure what’s worse: being so scared to be yourself, or so brainwashed by society that you don’t even know how to stand out on your own.
When I was a freshman, I was soooo determined to fit in and stay “under the radar”, fashion-wise. I refused to wear anything but leggings and a hoodie, I was terrified to be caught in something that wasn’t “cool”, and spent way too long in the morning attempting to copy makeup tutorials, so I could look like everyone else.
The times that I did see people take the time to dress cute at school, I’d hear people whisper “It’s school, not a fashion show!” or “God, she’s so high maintenance.” Hearing their negative comments towards confident, well-dressed girls literally made me want to wear jeans and t-shirts for the rest of my time in high school.
But as comfortable as the leggings and hoodie combo felt, I knew I wasn’t fully expressing myself. I’d go on Tumblr and Instagram and see all of these bloggers wearing the cutest outfits and think “I’d totally wear that if I wouldn’t get judged at school.” Then I’d look at my closet and see all of my clothes that were being tucked away due to society’s pressures to just “fit in”.
Towards the end of my freshman year, I decided to dress the way I really wanted, but just for one day. Thinking about it now, that outfit was probably an absolute mess (I had terrible style at the time…) but I felt so confident in it! Random girls were complimenting my “style” and I didn’t feel uncomfortable being seen, like I had expected. I realized that by dressing for myself, I was wearing clothes I actually felt good in, and was gaining confidence!
My plan to ditch the leggings and hoodie look and “dress for myself” for one day, slowly turned into weeks, until finally, it was my life motto. I began dressing for myself everyday, and learned to accept that it had become my main way of self-expression. A lot of people noticed me for my clothes and I started hearing more and more comments about how I dress; Some were good, but some were pretty negative.
I was constantly hearing people say I “try too hard” or “care too much” about what I wear to school. People were making fun of my style and someone even told me that guys aren’t into girls who dress the way I do. I overheard a conversation between two guys where they called me cute but said I looked “too high maintenance” to date, and someone suggested to me that I “tone my outfits down” so I don’t stand out as much.
At first, I was a little hurt about how people were seeing my new and improved self. I even thought about reverting back to my leggings and a hoodie routine. But I realized I would just be dressing to fit in again and be accepted by everyone else, instead of being my own person and actually loving what I wear. So instead of moping about the criticism, I decided to embrace it!
Now, I wear what I want to wear, not what society thinks is best. By accepting my own personal style and dressing for myself, I’ve become a much more confident person. My style is all over the place, somedays I dress like I’m an elementary school teacher, while other days I pretend I’m in New York City being photographed for a fashion magazine. My whole life is one big game of dress up and I absolutely love it. Ultimately, I feel good in what I wear, even though I may look “high maintenance” or intimidating to guys.
To whoever is still reading this, remember to dress for yourself, and not the way society wants you to. Wear what you feel good in and don’t let anyone else’s opinions weigh you down!