Friendship. It’s a tricky thing, ain’t it? I thought it was tricky in high school, but it continues to grow more elusive with every passing stage of life. I’ve come to a point in my life where a true friend is quite a rare find. And still even so, those true friends you do manage to keep end up being compartmentalized. That’s where I find myself, at least. I’m not sure if everyone else does the same or if it’s just the circumstances in which I’ve found myself (please do tell).
My college friends and I scattered after we graduated. Some stayed in my home state of FL – although all over up and down the state – and others went to opposite ends of the country. I slowly acquired new friends in Atlanta through work, craft, networking, and the like. You know, the adult ways. Yet still I’m quickly approaching the ripe age of 29 and often feel very lonely.
Everyone’s journey to building a strong and healthy self-image is a unique one. Figuring out how to project that self-image is even more difficult; style is not just clothing or accessory, it is self-expression. Self declaration. We all go through times of confusion, struggle, and enlightenment, in order to figure all of that out. Today I’m excited to turn over the mic to my friend Victoria of The Not-So-Southern Belle, as she shares her own personal journey to a sense of style. She’s a saucy lil’ lady whose talent is as evident as her beauty and I’m so happy to have her words gracing these pages. So with no further ado…
When Christina so graciously asked me to contribute to Tide and Bloom, I was extremely flattered and said yes without hesitation. Then, I immediately went into a panic thinking what the hell am I going to write about? I’m no fashion/creative/lifestyle authority. But here’s the thing: I don’t have to be. I guess you could say I have my own sense of style, and I own it. That’s all that really matters, right?
I could sit here and say I’ve always had body confidence, that I’ve always known what works for me, that I’m just naturally stylish—but it would all be total bullshit. As the always-sort-of-chubby-yet-cute-girl growing up, I went through a lot of phases. Freshman and sophomore year of high school I wore a lot of t-shirts. My mother used to beg me not to buy yet another “stupid [insert Hollister, Abercrombie, etc.] t-shirt.” Something clicked junior year and I decided to expand beyond my comfort zone. Well, sort of. I have this very distinct memory of the first time I was really proud of any outfit I put together. I used to actually spend a lot of time doing my hair (now, I’m lucky if I even wash it more than twice a week), and I’d just figured out the whole ponytail-with-a pouf thing. I paired it with a red Viva La Bam (oh, the days I actually used to watch MTV) t-shirt, a mini-skirt and these killer white, sporty heels. Yes, I wore heels to high school; quite often, actually.
Now, it may not have been the most stylish thing to wear, but I loved that outfit and it showed. I got so many compliments that day. After that, I started having more fun just wearing whatever the hell I wanted. I think that’s the biggest thing: confidence.
So it’s that time of year. You know, the beginning. And everywhere you look – tv, social media, blogs – you are reading or listening to something about crafting goals for the year ahead. As always, I’d like to think that I’m different than everyone else, but really I’m not. The start of a new calendar year is a ubiquitous marker of time and instead of being cynical and ignorant about it’s importance, I’d rather join the bandwagon and do whatever it is I need to feel like I’m ready for what’s up ahead.
I don’t think I can go a traditional route of making a list of all the little goals I’d like to accomplish because it just feels too mechanical and all the more difficult to follow. There are generic things I’m always trying to improve in my life no matter what the month – trying to eat healthier, trying to be more patient, trying to be active, trying to be a better daughter/friend/partner. The turn of the year doesn’t really mark a new motivation for any of these things because I’m always in progress, always working on getting better at them.
Being in your mid-20s can often feel like you’re on a long-ass road trip with an unknown destination. At times it looks like freedom, nothing tying you down or stopping you from where you want to go. Each city passed marks the progress you’re making and every bit of the journey makes the trip feel precious and all the more worthwhile. Other times you wonder if it will ever end, if you are even half-way there yet, wondering how long it will be until you find peaceful stillness and a comfortable bed.
This has been the story of my life for the past three years…
With the leaves falling and the chill rapidly growing, I’m reminded of the passage of time and the irrefutable need to re-align my perspective. My life has found itself once again in a foreign landscape, this one being solely focused on working. Yes, clocking in and clocking out, that kind of working. While I stand behind my decision to do this, I can’t deny how hard it’s been to make this transition. My days are never ending and I’ve barely even had a single day off to do my own thing in the last month. That being said, I think it’s time I make some fall/winter resolutions. Who says you need to wait until New Year’s to begin working on yourself? Ideally, I’d like to keep track of these self-assigned initiatives through the blog, but I can’t make any promises right now. To start, let me just give you an outline of how I foresee this happening. If all goes well, it may even transform the way my blog is written and organized…
I’d like to think that it’s fate that my birthday this year falls on the same day as the Love Yourself Linkup. A lot has changed for me in this past year and so it’s crucial to fight the usual bouts of disappointment I typically associate with this annual event. I am officially closer to the age 30 than the age 20 and instead of feeling like my youth is slipping, I need to look at this birthday as one year closer to happiness.
The lure of admitting defeat gets stronger with passing time. As I begin to hear the biological clock ticking away, I often wonder how much longer I can keep this up before having to succumb to my greatest fears in order to sustain my hopes for a family. But as much as I’d like to fall in line with the crowd, I know that happiness is still out there. The yearning I have for it is more palpable than ever and as the desire for stability grows, so does my resistance to the currents of practical living.
How do you keep swimming when you have no idea what direction the shore is in? (Yes, I’m going to try to keep going with this ocean metaphor)… You just do. There is no answer other than what your basic survival instinct is telling you to do: keep your head above it all and continue searching.
Explaining your goal in life or work is never easy. There are all these things that people expect for you to say – to make the world a better place, to have an effect on people’s lives, to make money, et cetera. Of course those are all things I want to do, but that doesn’t really explain how I’d like to do it. I think my life is better summed up as an endless pursuit of beauty. I want to seek beauty, find beauty, and cultivate/create beauty within others and within myself. So when Natalie Borton began her Choose Beauty Linkup, I knew I had to get in on it. I’ve read such lovely and poignant stories being shared on Anne‘s Love Yourself Linkup so it was a no-brainer to join another network encouraging earnest reflections on personal stories and experiences. I may not be able to post every week on both linkups, but hopefully what I do get to share will be fulfilling for both me and you.
I’ve always thought of beauty as an outward journey, an active search or effort to bring more beauty unto me. Whether it is through clothes, make-up, decor, or whatever, the thing I thought I needed to find would always be out there somewhere. It was within the pages of the glossy magazines showing me who I could be if I just tried a little harder. It was in the stacks of history books in the art and architecture library. It was growing outside in the meadows and all around me. It can actually be overwhelming sometimes when I think about all the ways in which I see our beautiful world. And perhaps one of the biggest reasons why I see beauty so pervasively is because I often fail to see it within myself.
Self-image is a weird concept. It suggests that we have an idea of our identity that was/is self-created or self-manifested. What always confounds me about this is how greatly our self-image is actually propagated and influenced by those who surround us. Whether it is loved ones or strangers, it’s often in their eyes that we see our reflections in. Of course as soon as I say that I am also reminded how often I actually don’t see myself the way others do. I almost always see myself lesser than how others see me – uglier, more judgmental, not as talented, and so on.
So while I stand behind the idea of ignoring what other people think, I find that I personally need to do the opposite and listen to what other people think. As I’m navigating through my quarter-life crisis, I am constantly facing the fact that the only person doubting my abilities and holding me back is myself.
Like with any other personality fault, this is not something I can easily overcome. I’m 100% sure that it is equal parts nature and nurture that bring me to this crucial point in my life.
Every few weeks I tend to experience an identity crisis. I have the awful plague of being a creative and ambitious individual which means nothing is ever good enough, including myself. In order to pull myself out of this hopeless hole, I have to do something that will lead me back to remembering who I really am. Sometimes it’s rambling on to my boyfriend about how I’m too far behind to do anything worthwhile in my life, to which he usually responds with reassuring words about how everyone loves everything I do. Other times it’s chatting with best friends who usually tell me how much they admire my strength and courage.
Today it happens to be that I’m reminded of who I am by my birth date. Everyone loves reading descriptions of themselves and their potential futures, in hopes that their own self-image and desired goals will be confirmed as what destiny had intended for them. While I do believe that we are in control of our own lives, I also think you can’t get anywhere without knowing thyself.