You’ve probably heard me walking around campus, whether you know it or not. The heels from my boots clack on the pavement on my way to the library or within the eerily quiet halls of Buckley Center, but frankly, I don’t care anymore.
I used to be self-conscious about what shirt I was wearing or if the shoes I had put on in the morning made too much noise. I hated the idea of standing out. But after re-evaluating my closet, and my own mental health during quarantine, I realized that dressing up made me feel more confident and more motivated to get on with my day.
With the help of my freshman year best friends, and now housemates, I have learned the importance of being unapologetically me, dressing in styles that make me feel like I’m the main character, and I suggest everyone do the same.
I remember my freshman year being so worried about trying to fit in and wished I would have had this newfound mentality sooner.
I would walk with my head down to classes, feeling embarrassed anytime I would dress up. Now, I just put in my headphones, play my “life’s a movie” playlist on Spotify (perfect for these moody rainy days), and have learned how to keep my head held high as I strut to my classes, no matter how overdressed I might seem.
This journey to self-confidence didn’t come as easy as it might seem. While I had a great support system, I also had my worst critic: myself.
Around this time last year, I had finally accepted the way my body had developed and looked in the clothes I had hanging in my closet. That was until I had gotten extremely sick with a parasite whose origin still remains a mystery.
For the first couple of weeks, none of the doctors knew what was going on with me. I could barely hold anything down and had developed severe anxiety and depression from all the uncertainty towards my own body.
I began to lose weight rapidly and there was nothing I could do about it. I had lost over 25 pounds in the span of two months and could barely recognize myself in the mirror.
I felt defeated.
In high school, I would have done anything to get as small as I was while I had the parasite. But seeing how frail I was after getting sick was the wake-up call I desperately needed to realize that it wasn’t attainable. From that point on I started treating my body with kindness instead of criticism.
After finally figuring out what was going on and getting treatment, dressing up and styling my clothes helped me feel less like a patient and more like myself.
At first, I didn’t know how to dress for my body type anymore. When my clothes didn’t fit the same way I had been used to I felt discouraged. My comfort clothes had turned into pieces that made me feel like I was trying to portray the old version of myself — someone that was too afraid to wear what they wanted and too afraid of standing out.
I knew that at the beginning stages of my recovery, I didn’t want to live my life afraid of what others thought anymore, especially after feeling like I wouldn’t ever be healthy again. That’s when my “not caring” mentality began and the experimenting started.
I had begun to use different styling techniques and DIY’s I would see on TikTok as tools to revamp my wardrobe and my own mentality. I used the time I would take to get ready as the time of my day where I didn’t have to hyper-fixate on what was going on in my life and could express my creativity through my clothes.
I even decided to end my two month hiatus on social media and began to post my new “fit pics” to show that I was back and better than ever with a shifted mentality. It seemed people had noticed and have told me they’ve even been encouraged to start dressing up more seeing how much I post about my differing outfits and seeing me around campus.
It’s a little scary at first, putting yourself out there and trying something new, especially when it affects how people might perceive you. To that, I say don’t be afraid to be extra.
Pick out clothes that you genuinely like, that fit you the way that makes you feel the most comfortable, and don’t be afraid of color or mixing different textures. Through trial and error, you might just find your new favorite style and a change of perspective.
For now, put your headphones in, play the music you think would be the soundtrack to your life, and strut like you mean it. Just like the main character you are.
Brie Haro is the Community Engagement editor for The Beacon and can be reached at email@example.com
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