Be Yourself…Unless You’re Outside Of Your House

Be yourself. Everyone always preaches that. Be unique! Don’t be like others! Embrace your weirdness! We’re told that from a young age but I’m kind of realizing lately that no one means it.

Let me explain to you my clothing style: it’s casual. Skate shoes, jeans, a shirt or sweater, occasionally some simple jewelry. No layers, no frills. I’m always put together but not fancy.

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*claps furiously* Thanks, Niall!

Fancyness doesn’t suit me at this point in my life. I don’t need to be dressed up to go to class or to sit at home and watch TV. Even when I do hang out with friends or go to a club or something, what I own and like is perfectly acceptable. And while I don’t hate skirts and dresses, I rarely choose to wear them because I find them constricting and really don’t like worrying about how I’m sitting/standing or wind.

Unlike where I worked for the past two summers, there is a bit of a dress code at my current summer job, as there is at most workplaces. I understand that dress codes are in place so people don’t go around wearing anything inappropriate. There is an image to maintain. I can handle this and I respect this. I know to not wear my paint-splattered shorts and my flip-flops, but who decided that jeans were innapropriate? And I don’t mean ripped, bedazzled, lowrise jeans. I mean normal, fitted jeans. But I digress.

My mom hates my style. She hates that I prefer rubber dollar-store flip-flops to fancy, flowered sandals, or that I prefer a plain tank top to some frilly crop top. For years she’s begged me to expand my wardrobe, but here I sit, wearing the same shorts she wanted me to throw out three years ago and a STAR Labs t-shirt that is a size too big. And while my mom just wants me to look cuter, my father is the one more worried about my reputation. That’s even worse because now I feel guilty, like I’m purposely sabotaging my own career by not wearing flats to work like most of the other ladies I work with. I know my parents want the best for me, but it’s kind of hard to be my best self while wearing something I’m not comfortable in.

But it goes beyond clothes. Do you know how many times I’ve said something like “I think blue garage doors are nice,” and have my parents roll their eyes and say something along the lines of “No, they’re ugly. Wait until you have a place of your own.” I can’t wait to have a place of my own. So then I can decorate it with dragons and fun colours and funky lamps. My parents don’t want me to be myself even in my house.

So okay, my parents are weirdly formal and my brother straight up said he doesn’t want to be seen in public with me. Whatever. This issue expands farther than my family. High schools, workplaces, church…one’s ability to perform well is not dependant on if they’re wearing heels or running shoes or flats or flip flops or crocs. I went to a high school with a uniform and if you think that having that allowed us to all appear appropriate, you are very mistaken. Some girls had those kilts rolled up far too high, and some boys had no shame showing everyone their boxers as they were low-riding.

This issue also expands past gender and social norms. Being yourself means boys wearing skirts if they want. It’s girls cutting their hair short if they want. It’s teenagers getting tattoos if they want. It’s people wearing as much or as little makeup as they want. And guess what?!?! None of these things makes you an unproductive member of society. Being yourself means being able to do these things, or whatever else you want and knowing that some people won’t like it, but who cares? Personally, I think a lot of tattoos are unattractive. But do I have friends with tattoos? Yep. I also don’t like the style of wearing leggings as pants. But do I have a mom who does that? Sure do. People have different opinions, and really, I hate that so much of our society is based around only one conservative opinion. If people want to wear dumb things or do dumb things, they can, as it’s a reflection of themselves.

I’m going to continue fighting for myself. I’m going to continue doing everything I can do be presentable and comfortable. I’m going to continue being myself, even if that does mean more screaming matches with my parents. And if later on in life something negative happens because of this, then I’ll deal with it, because it’s my life and my choices.

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And I’m not anti-dress code or anti-rules. I’m just against the fact that ‘being yourself’ seems to wear off once you turn 16 and enter The Real World. I don’t care if every actor ever in their award acceptance speeches have said to ‘stay true to yourself’ because they’re not the ones hiring me or influencing my daily life. I want parents and teachers and bosses and everyone telling someone else to ‘be themselves’ to really consider if they mean it. Because I do.

Be yourself, kids.

P.S. Shoutout to that one red-headed lawyer on The Good Wife (which my mom was watching) who wears fun, colourful suits and carries funky bags and is very smiley and is always 100% herself on top of being a great lawyer. I thought about her a lot when writing this post.

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17 thoughts on “Be Yourself…Unless You’re Outside Of Your House

  1. Hahah very nicely written 🙂

    Indeed, you gotta be yourself. It’s your life after all eh? If you’re gonna be moving and talking weird all day just because you’re wearing clothes that makes you feel weird-

    Why even bother, right? XD

    Fight for yourself and fight for others who are facing similar issues. Get together and unite as one!

    I don’t watch that show but the character sure sound interesting hehe.

    Your pal,
    Benjamin
    http://www.projectbiy.com

    • It is my life! And my teenage/young adult years are the ones where I’m supposed to express myself and find my style. I will not stand for being stifled.

  2. “Be yourself” is something that a lot of people say because it makes them feel open-minded towards others, and *they* want to be whoever they want to be, but of everyone else, they expect conformity, and in practice they actually mock people who don’t conform.

    Apparently what people actually mean is: “Be yourself within certain very rigidly defined parameters that we set for you. If you’re not individual enough, we’ll laugh at you and call you a follower and a copycat, but if you’re too unique, we’ll laugh at you for that, too.”

    I felt that much more intensely when I was younger and in school, but to some degree it exists throughout all of life.

    I suppose some social norms are a good thing — sexual harassment is rightly condemned by society, for instance — but for the most part, I think that people try to conform to be accepted, and expect others to conform, and yet still say, “Just be yourself” because it makes them feel better about themselves.

    • You are very right! And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most open-minded, judgemental-free person ever, but I try.
      I’m trying to figure out if as people become adults, do they seriously grow out of a unique style and enjoy the maturity or do they just simply conform so they won’t be judged?

  3. Elsbeth Tascioni played by Carrie Preston was one of my favorite characters on The Good Wife. I loved her quirkiness and most of all her brilliance. And with all her bright colours and wild bags she was always impeccably groomed. That hair! Her peaches and cream complexion and her fabulous, sparkly smile were what I noticed first. She certainly had a unique style and yet it was fully appropriate for her ultra-conservative profession.
    I noticed that you have a GIF of Zooey Deschanel; she is another uniquely styled actress for her role in New Girl. She too looks groomed and like she is purposefully put-together, albeit in a way that I wouldn’t adopt for myself.
    I think many people have a misunderstanding regarding what appropriate dress is and what individual style is. I don’t think you need to wear the latest fashions to have style but you need to show some effort . I think if you work in a conservative setting you can still wear some unique things and be true to yourself and be comfortable. Individual style does not however, override proper grooming, hygiene and looking like you took the time and effort to present your best self.

    • But why can’t you present your “best self” in jeans and a t-shirt? Jeans and a t-shirt shouldn’t automatically assume unhygenic ans not put together

    • Elsbeth! Yes, that’s her name. She’s the best.
      Baggy t-shirt, baggy pants, messy hair…those can say no effort. Nice shirt, nice jeans, bright colours, those can say put together. Clothes are not inherently better than others and nor are the wearers.

  4. I’m with you on the jeans and T-shirt! That’s my fave, even though I am a working professional in the education field 😛 I’ll admit, being in Korea and working as a teacher, wearing some more teacher-y things helped me get used to not wearing a jeans and T-shirt everyday, but I also made sure I liked everything I wore, and that I was comfortable in it, because I’m sure not wearing something that I’m not comfortable in. I also wore a Superman watch everyday to school. I loved it, and so did the kids! I will join most certainly join you as another person who means it when they say, “Be yourself!”

    • Nice choice with a Superman watch! I’ve read a lot of articles on how to still dress professionally while expressing yourself and apparently wearing small things like watches, earrings or socks do the trick. Today I wore a dragon ring to work!

  5. Hello one of the most relatable things I’ve ever read – I totally agree with you! My mom and sister have also been trying to get me to update my wardrobe for years and trying to convince me to wear “cute” clothes…but like I love my jeans and hoodies and sweatpants and sneakers. That’s what I’m comfortable with. I also don’t understand why jeans are so unacceptable in so many places. I mean if ypu pair jeans with a nice top, it can still look nice and presentable and put together. I definitely feel like I’m living my best life when I’m wearing clothes that I’m comfortable in because it makes me feel more confident and like I can focus on other things other than how much my feet hurt from wearing heels for 8 hours.

    • Right?!?! Jeans are the best and no one respects them, which is a shame. Continue to resist the pressure from family. I know it can be tiring, but it’s an important fight. If we’re all wearing the same clothes, we’re that much closer to living in a dystopian novel and we all know how awful that’d be.

  6. Like you said, others aren’t influencing the direction of your life. It sucks that there are times where you have to conform to standards but at the end of the day you only have yourself so you have the right to comfortably be yourself whenever you can.

    • I’d live in jeans if I could. I think they are the best pants out there, because they’re still casual enough to wear whenever, but they’re stylish enough to look like you tried. You can dress them up or not. They’re the best. I don’t understand how people find them uncomfortable!

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