Think back to when you were in school. Remember that one teacher, the one who felt class participation was oh so important? They usually said something like this on the first day of class:
“Welcome students! I’d like to begin by going around the room and having you introduce yourself. Please tell us your name and something about yourself.”
I HATED that. This is usually the part where I would start to look for the exit trap door under my desk, or a safe place to throw up. I begged for aliens to come by and beam me up to their mother ship. What do you mean something about myself? I never played sports, I had no hobbies. I was terrified I would get social tourettes and blurt out something like “I love snails!”
Our son is obsessed with all things hockey. Without any push from us he decided this is where his heart is. So we started him on skates last year and now he is in a learn to play program. I give him so many props. If he wants to do something he will figure out a way. He doesn’t worry about if he is the best, or the worst, if he looks stupid, or if he has to ask questions. He doesn’t get nervous or embarrassed. He doesn’t even care that he doesn’t know any of the other kids there.
I went to watch one of his practices. He was falling down but kept getting back up. Overall though he was doing really well. Then the coach told them to find a partner. “Oh No!,” screamed the pathetic introvert hiding in my soul, he doesn’t know anybody! I watched in fear as my stomach churned. I grabbed my husband’s knee in the stands.
“What exactly is wrong with you?” said my husband.
“But he doesn’t know anyone!” I pleaded.
“So what? He’s fine,” assured my even-keeled husband.
The whole horrible (to me) ordeal was over in about 4 seconds. He found a partner and they skated off for a drill.
Thank goodness he takes after my husband instead of me. People like my husband, and now our son, were just born a certain way. They are comfortable in their skin. There may be things they are unsure of, but they never really doubt who they are. They are naturally self-aware and self-assured.
Then there’s the other type. People like me, and unfortunately probably my daughter. We are the people who dip our toes in the water, then our ankles, slowly, cautiously. I’ve tried to change this behavior. I’ve tried to examine why I am like this. But in my late 30’s, as Popeye would say “I yam what I yam.”
This doesn’t mean that I cannot change. It just takes me longer. And that’s okay. When I first started working in a boutique I had never ever shopped in one before. Sure I’d been to malls, department stores, all that stuff. But just the word “Boutique” intimidated me. When I went in for my interview I wore my best Ann Taylor-I-just-got-laid-off-from-my-job-in-finance-suit. I knew I loved fashion but I didn’t feel I had style. I definitely was not “born with it.” Fast forward 10 years later and I could compete with a project runway contestant and make a dress out of a scarf and a belt. But it took 10 years. During that time I tried and failed many times. Red shiny leather pants? Not a trend I should have rocked. Beaded denim? Not comfy or cute. But it was okay. In my safe haven at Elizabeth Maar Boutique I worked with so many fabulous women. I learned what worked for me and for other women. I saw trends come and some gladly go. I learned that the word boutique does not mean snobby and unaffordable. It is has been the best internship of my life.
I took this picture just this week. I went in to celebrate the birthday of the owner, who has been my friend and my boss for a long time. This is the first year in 12 years that I am not a regular on the schedule. I always scale back in summer to be with my kids, but this year, when fall came around, I found I was busy with my fledgling business. A good, crazy, chaotic kind of busy. I was so scared to step away from the comfort and warmth of this place and these ladies. But I knew I needed to let go of my safety net. Even if I was going to fall down and fail. I had to be forced to get back up. I had to go against my nature and jump in the water.
For the record, if that same teacher asked me to tell a few things about myself, I would stand up and not be shy. I would proudly say that I love shopping and I hate cooking. I love monster trucks and want to learn to drive a tractor-trailer. I don’t have time for rude people or people who invade my space at the grocery store checkout register. Really, back up and let me finish my transaction. I love dogs and most animals. Snakes paralyze me with fear. The ocean is my holy water and the beach is heaven. I really, really, really, love pizza. I am a baked goods whore. I love 80s movies. I think HGTV is perfection. I think music soothes the soul. I believe in love at first sight, because I experienced it with my husband. My friends and my family mean everything to me.
*INSIDER TIP – YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO DO ALMOST ANYTHING.
Not everyone is naturally gifted like Tiger Woods in golf. That doesn’t stop them from taking lessons, learning to play, and to love the game. Sometimes it takes a long time to learn a new concept. Learning to fly a plane might be out of the limits of your wallet, but you can certainly grab a book and read about it. I am pretty sure there are even tutorials on-line with simulators. I was not born with a Kate Moss type of fashion intuition. I studied hard and I learned to experiment with style. I gobble up every book and blog on fashion I can, because it fascinates me and I love it. When I created my own business around it I poured my heart and soul into it. I still do . I was not best dressed at my high school, and I don’t aim to be the best dressed mommy at my childrens school. I just want to have fun with fashion. When I meet with a client my goal is to give them tools to use within their wardrobe to make them feel more put together. Everybody needs and wants that. Don’t get discouraged. Treat yourself like a 7-year-old going out for ice hockey.
*INSIDER TIP – ERASE YOUR LABEL
It is great to know yourself and know what you like. But don’t pigeon-hole yourself. We so often want to label people.
“Oh I’m not athletic.”
“He’s not good at art.”
“I can’t wear that color.”
“I’m too old for that skirt.”
“My style is conservative.”
Remember when you were little and your parents would tell you that you could be anything you want to be. That is still true.
Fashion is your chance to express yourself. And you are allowed to change your expression. Allow yourself a little wiggle room to be uncomfortable out of your comfort zone. You may like it and expand your zone.
Thanks for reading!