Written by Patrick James Quinn.
We all want to fit in. We want to be accepted and regarded as important or popular. This often requires a certain uniformity, and the cost is often the loss of our individual selves.
Daily we are bombarded from all sides with endless pressure from the media, advertising, celebrities and social expectations. How to act. What to look like. How to dress. What category do you fall under? Are you a punk? Or preppy? A nerd, hipster, goth or jock?
Why can’t you just be yourself? E.E. Cummings said, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” Yes, it takes time to grow into yourself and figure out who you truly are. It takes courage to push beyond socially-accepted categories and express yourself. But individuality is valuable, and worth the fight.
Style is a weapon, and what we choose to wear reflects what is inside of us. One of the biggest drawbacks to pre-existing categories is that they’ve been pinned with peoples’ preconceptions. A nerd is expected to wear thick-rimmed glasses and dress like a square. A goth is stereotyped wearing heavy, black clothes, chains and dark eye make-up, and so on.
What if you want to express yourself as smart, and dark? Or beautiful but professional? What if you want to have a clean-cut but still aggressive look? What if you truly don’t feel drawn to any pre-existing category whatsoever?
Figure out what it is that you truly love. Don’t worry about what your friends think or what is “in.” If you love steam-punk, find some old-fashioned dress clothes and tinker with them. Stick to it even if some react negatively. There are exceptions, of course, such as workplace dress-codes that must be adhered to.
Whatever you do, do it with confidence. When trying out a new look, don’t be ashamed of it. You may need to make modifications and adjustments as you hone your taste, but wearing whatever you have chosen in a meek way will only serve to deflate your aspiring originality.
Be creative. For example, if you have expensive taste and want to dress up on a regular basis, updating your wardrobe via commercial means could drain your bank account. Instead, look in thrift stores, raid your attic or basement, ask your parents or friends for hand-me-downs that have been collecting dust in their closets that may perfectly suit your style.
One could claim that with the upwards of seven billion people in the world, there is no originality left to be had. Someone is surely walking around with your style, right? Always keep in mind that there is only one you. As Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Find what you love, hold on to it, and don’t be afraid to express yourself honestly.