Back in college, a friend commented to me, “Wow Jen, you’ve got guts to wear that lipstick!”. The color I was wearing was definitely bright (for some reason I have “Marvelous Mauve” by Avon in my head, but that sounds too tame!). I think I laughed it off, because I’m just not a gutsy person. Stepping out of my comfort zone is not something I’m likely to do willingly, but there I was, wearing that bold lipstick with confidence. I had never thought that what I could do with confidence may require courage for someone else.
I just have to be clear: even though I can rock some crazy lipstick; most other bold moves make me fearful. I’m textbook risk-averse. As a result, I also struggle with a lack of self-confidence since I usually avoid proving to myself that I can at least attempt to do whatever scary thing is in front of me.
Yet, here I am, authoring a blog about something I love even though it scares me to tell anyone I know about what I’ve been doing. Each post has been a small triumph, and has helped me take one baby step forward. On this road, I am inching closer to the self confidence I am hoping to gain. In my own little way, I'm being brave.
What you are reading is something that I couldn’t do at the start: I'm outing the fear and lack of self confidence that gets in the way of dressing the way that I would like to. I’ve filled my closet with safe choices. They help me blend in and not stand out. It’s how I’ve responded to the fear of what “people will say” when they look at me (ha!). Trying to deflect attention is my version of the fight or flight response. Some animals play dead in the face of danger; I dress in camouflage. Blending in has been the priority over looking and feeling good in what I’m wearing. Over the years, my regular pattern of flight and no fight has helped my fear grow from being a fear of receiving a negative response into a fear of just putting myself out there.
This really hit home home for me on a recent Sunday when we were going out for a family breakfast before heading to church. I was quickly choosing my outfit since we were in a rush. Facing what was in my closet, I heard myself thinking: “I just want something to hide in”. I was in too much of a hurry to think about that one, so after I found something *safe* to wear, off we went and it was out of my mind. When we arrived at the restaurant, I noticed a woman wearing an outfit that I really liked. I had seen something similar a few days before when I was out shopping. She looked amazing and my eyes were drawn to her several times during breakfast. Should I run back to the store for it? Somehow, by the end of breakfast, I had talked myself out of it. Thinking about it later that night, I realized that the thought of receiving as much attention as she did from me had scared me. I wasn’t just afraid of looking bad. I was afraid of looking good, as well as just being looked at.
Time out. I didn’t like the sound of that.
After talking to my bff, I scrapped the blog post about fear and confidence that I had been stuck on for weeks, and started to be honest about where I was coming from. Starting to face my fears has been the beginning of a new self awareness that I wasn’t expecting. The unconscious thinking I was engaged in is getting more noticeable. I'm beginning to have a new understanding of what I am fighting.
Wow. Did you hear that? Not, what I am flighting, but what I am fighting.
Progress. Something good is happening here. That makes me think I can take the next step. That sounds like confidence. It's just enough to get me to the next step.
For the blog, when I finish this and hit publish; I’ll start the next post. Regarding the way I dress, I made the next step earlier this week: challenging myself to wear one thing I love. Every day. On Friday, my chiropractor commented on my sparkly sandals. With confidence, I was able to say, “I challenged myself to wear something I love today!”. The attention didn’t kill me. The conversation moved on. I was proud of myself.
So it's one foot in front of the other. If you’re on this path, or want to get on; I hope you will be encouraged to take a step, even just a little one. It won’t be easy, and it will probably take some time, but it’s definitely worth the fight.
Hope for the fearful: “but even when I am afraid, I keep on trusting you. I praise your promises! I trust you and am not afraid. No one can harm me” Psalm 56:3,4 (CEV)