Some of you know my journey in terms of fashion. I have been talking about how I used to be creative, and had my own unique way of making a wardrobe; and how I lost that confidence during my fashion education, where I took what fashion is and the way fashion was supposed to work from my teachers and my fellow students.
But, obviously, I let that happen.
I do not blame my teachers nor the rest of the class (or the world, for that matter). There was something going on inside of me that let this happen. Who lets this part of their creativity be taken away if it is such a major part of their personality?
Well, it seems that I am someone who is prone to take over what other people are doing. I am someone who takes what they see around them as normal and is actively trying to make sure that she is part of that normality. My fashion habits have been the last to go and the first to come back.
As a child I have felt out of the ordinary. I come from a small town where there is not much room for being different. School couldn’t quite figure out whether I was stupid or smart. I liked sci-fi rather than the typical pink-princess stuff. Childhood has a way of amplifying how and why you are different to other people too, you know what I mean, right?
Then there is that part of me that knew it was very important to find out what my parents wanted of me, so that I could do this and feel connected to them, or maybe I should say, not disconnected. It is always difficult to say exactly what part of your early childhood made a mark in how you turn out as an adult. You are so young when most of the learned behaviours became integrated into your system. And when they are integrated into your system you start to treat the world the same way, getting back confirmation.
I learned to reply and respond to my parents with what I thought they wanted. And later this behaviour is projected onto friends, teachers and so on. I remember my decision making process. If I didn’t know what to do, I would ask a friend. Their response made sense to me, because I could not get to a decision myself. I went ahead and did it the way she recommended. I am sure you can see the danger in that.
Going through life like this makes you feel like you are a boat bobbing on the waves. The waves decide where you are going. I responded to whatever was going on around me, rather than checking my emotional compass and steering my ship…
A few years ago, I started to question and challenge my behaviour. Mostly because I saw how I was responding to my children and I didn’t like what I was seeing. I wanted to change my behaviour because I saw them turning out like me, with the same struggles that I had. I want to raise them so they know how to control their boat.
This change focused mostly on what I was doing in the moment. When you get tired, how do you respond to your children? When they aren’t doing what you want them to do, how to you respond? Those are all emotional responses. So in order to change how I was responding to them I needed to find out what I was feeling and why. I think that is the first time that I started to tune into my heart and out of my head.
Later something happened within our family that made an impact on me. Let’s just say, my boat crashed. I was stuck on the shore with parts of wood all around me. (If I make a joke here, and said I was looking for a basketball to talk to, do you know what image I have in my head?) Anyway, there was no way that I could go any further like this. I was totally disintegrated.
You need to know that at that point I had a perfect life. I had my health. (Okay, I could do with some healthy choices, but I was fine) I had four fantastic kids that no longer were babies. (Babies are lovely but they take a lot of your energy caring for them.) I just moved to a big house that was pretty much my dream house or in any case the perfect house to raise those kids in and to live happily ever after.
I had been doing what I was supposed to do. Find a husband you can rely on, have some kids, buy a house and do some creative things in your spare time when you are not taking care of those other things that I mentioned. I guess I was living a pretty good life, by society’s standard.
But it didn’t feel like my life.
It hadn’t been easy to try and make this work, don’t get me wrong. I worked hard to believe that it was fine, by distracting myself with things that do not matter. It takes energy to try and do what I thought other people wanted of me. And I thought it was normal to sacrifice yourself as much as I did in order to take care of the babies.
I was tired and didn’t know where to go, to get rid of this horrible feeling; my life was flashing by without me participating in it. I was shipwrecked on the coast. “Go go gadget boat” didn’t work, “huub huub barbatruc” wasn’t going to get me off either.
I first had to accept who I was and be okay with that. I am somebody who questions everything. I am somebody who thinks a lot and loves to be alone. I am somebody who wants to carve a different path because then I feel like I am alive. I feel best when I learn. I have learned that if I do not fit in, it is an asset not a problem. All of this is fine.
But when you accept who you are, you also need to accept how you feel. When you start to listen to what you are feeling you are going to have to take action. You cannot be who you are and ignore what your heart is trying to tell you.
It was hard in the beginning, because, people want you to be who they know you to be. It feels as though they try to push you back to your former self. From the moment it got easier to trust my gut, I got happier. I might not be exactly where I want to be, but that is not the point, is it? I allow myself to make decisions trusting my heart, and that is what makes me feel alive (And happy, did I mention happy?).
It doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. I have no idea if this is going to take me where I want to be. I have never trusted the compass of my heart in this way before. So how the h*ll do I know this is going to work? On the other hand, I have all the proof I need, to know, that thinking my way through life isn’t going to make me happy. That, for sure, isn’t going to make me feel like I have lived a full and fantastic life.
I think that most of us feel the burden of “what other people might think”. And I think that we are limiting our self because of it. I feel it is my duty to try and get people to let go of others’ opinions and to help guide them in developing their self esteem and more specifically in what they wear.
For me fashion has always been a way to express myself. In the beginning of this blog I told you that my creativity in fashion was the last thing to go and the first thing to come back, after a period of not being who I was. But truly, my fashion values, never really left me. I don’t think that people close to me can recognise this period from my clothing. I think they have always seen me as free spirited and my clothes showed that. The difference is that I am now seeing it as my strongest asset, definitely not something unworthy or odd.