I was over at She Found Style the other day reading about Betsy's top 5 things learned in 2011, and I realized that she really succinctly put most of the things I like about style. I mostly resonated with her #2 and #5:
2. Dressing up improves my sense of self.
I used to dress up so others would think well of me. Now I dress up because of how well I think of myself. Yes, sweatpants are comfortable and UGG’s are convenient but they don’t exactly make me feel productive. When I first began this challenge, I lived in sneakers, tank tops and hoodies. I don’t anymore.
5. Stepping out of my comfort zone is life-changing.
And the biggest lesson in all of this so far? The personal growth I’ve experienced in pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I have taken chances, admitted that I didn’t know everything (that’s actually a big one for me), and I’ve asked myself to not give up no matter how silly this whole challenge has seemed. Whether the motivation is style or world peace, stepping outside of my comfort zone offers challenge and personal growth that I’m proud of.
For a lot of people I feel like "dressing up" and stepping out of their comfort zone go hand in hand. I think when I first started venturing out of my jeans & t-shirts uniform, it was certainly a big step out of my comfort zone. For one thing, you're setting yourself apart from the crowd. Especially in a college setting, which is where I was when I first embarked on my style adventure (as Betsy puts it), wearing something other than jeans, a tee, sneakers and sweats kind of sets you apart from everyone else. This can be a pretty intimidating place to be, especially if you tend towards the introverted side of the spectrum, which I for sure do.
Once I started making those steps, though, I found that my confidence grew almost exponentially and I felt more and more free to wear whatever the hell I wanted– which definitely included some silly and fun phases (ahem*DavidLeeRothhairmetalstylephase*). I may or may not have frizzed the hell out of my hair, wore shiny faux leather leggings, a vintage police cap, and my leather jacket to class on a few days. But regardless of how ridiculous I looked, I felt awesome. I knew that people thought I looked weird, but I didn't care, I was having fun and expressing myself.
As much as I believe that we should judge people on their personality, not their looks, I've come to a realization that it's in our nature to make judgements based on appearance. It's almost a survival instinct we have– to assess our surroundings, see if things/people look safe or dangerous. While we should definitely try to overcome this to get to know people on a deeper level (appearance can be deceiving, and a lot of people use appearance to hide behind), I've also discovered that my own personal style can communicate to others something about who I am nonverbally and from a distance.
It's really cool seeing someone else have the same thoughts and experiences through exploring style. Sometimes it's hard to articulate why I like blogging so much and how it's changed my life, which sounds overly dramatic, but is kind of true. Betsy's sentiments really do echo my experience, which is still continuing! I like to think a style adventure is a never ending adventure.