Growing up, we all went through the basic stages of life. We started in the “anything you do/wear is cute” baby years. Then, we dove headfirst into the “ugly duckling years” aka the preteens and thankfully transitioned to the “wait you’re actually like not bad looking” aka “thank the lord for puberty” teenage years. Now, we are settled into the college years aka the “I will wear my pj’s to class and I will own them”.
As a little girl, I was a lanky kid and a perfectionist to say the least. I would spend hours in front of the mirror, flattening my hair out as flat as possible, never wear anything that I thought was even remotely ‘uncool,’ always try to blend in. As I grew older, not much changed. I shortened my school uniform skirt when the cool girls did it, cut bangs in my hair, and started applying kajal in my eyes. Despite my uneven tan lines, my colorful braces, and my “fashionable” glasses, I made sure to look just like the other girls my age did. This went on all the way through high school. Fashion trends changed, and I changed with them until college and a change in scenery reset my perspective.
In college, I was different. No matter what I wore, I would always be different. This I was not used to. I wanted to hide. I wanted not to be noticed. But alas, when I came out of my room I was immediately noticed. When I tried to contribute to a conversation in a group, I was noticed. When I wore my crazy Indian pants, I was noticed.
I struggled with my own identity for a long time. I tried my best not to be around people unless absolutely necessary. I spent a lot of my time doing schoolwork and Skyping my friends and family back home. Finally, good sense prevailed and I realized I was wrong. Not wrong about being different, but wrong about those around me. I realized that everyone was, in fact, different in his or her own way. We were all aboard a boat that had successfully sailed past the land of high school and into a place that was a little bit closer to the real world. We just had to deal with it in our own way. I decided to deal with it by priding myself for being different.
Now, I was glad to be noticed.
I wore my crazy pants to class. I owned my accent and repeated words multiple times in order to be understood until I didn’t need to anymore. I overdressed when I felt like it and showed up in my sweats when I didn’t. My chunky accessories were now a topic of conversation rather than an oddity. I even joined a sorority, much to the astonishment of everyone back home.
College taught me to be myself – to grow into a confident person who is comfortable in her own skin. College taught me not to spend hours in front of the mirror trying to look like every other girl in the room. College taught me fashion; a fashion that is by you, for you, and about you. College taught me a fashion that no magazine or movie ever did.