Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween 2017: Coraline and The Cat

Another Halloween, another hair color to take advantage of when deciding upon a costume. I started crowdsourcing blue-haired characters and costume ideas in August. I had 2 requirements in addition to the incorporation of the blue hair color: it had to have a position for my pup and it had to be DIY-able.

People gave me all sorts of ideas: Joy from "Inside Out" (one of my favorite movies), Hades from "Hercules", outer space, the ocean, etc. I thought about going as Helena St. Tessero from "Neo Yokio" because, not only do we both have blue hair, but we're both fashion bloggers who've lost interest and faith in the fashion industry. But I chose Coraline because the costume was the easiest to make for both me and my dog.

I've been DIY-ing my costumes since I was little (well, my mom was doing all the work before my fine motor movements fully developed, but everything was still homemade). I'm on a fixed budget and never want to ruin it by spending money on something I'm only going to wear once for a photo. Plus, I don't ever go out on Halloween, so the costume would literally only be purchased for the photo.

This costume was super easy because I already owned the pointy-toed blue boots and dark-wash jeans. All I needed was a star-print sweater and a dragonfly clip. I thought about buying them, but I knew I wouldn't ever wear the sweater or the clip again, and decided I'd rather spend the money on new books.

I made the sweater by cutting out stars from a huge swath of white fabric I have that I use for embroidery and tacking them onto a fuzzy sweater I already owned. I made the clip by painting a dragonfly onto the same fabric and gluing it on a bobby pin.

And voilá! A "Coraline" Halloween! I think my pup was the happiest with this costume because it didn't require her to wear socks or a jacket like she's had to wear in previous years' costumes.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

OOTD: Transparency

We all do embarrassing shit. We all do stuff we think others wouldn't approve of. We've all used our roommate's shampoo, kissed a friend's ex, or written a strongly-worded and not factually-sourced tweet about a current event we're not actually familiar with. When we realize what we've done or realize the likelihood of someone finding out, we're stricken with shame.

If you've made it far enough in life to be able to read this (and even if you haven't tbh), you are likely very intimate with shame. It's the feeling that accompanies not fitting into your environment and perceived failure. I say "perceived" failure because people often feel ashamed of life experiences that others wouldn't consider negative. You think there's something wrong with you, that you can't get anything right, and that others see you this way as well. You get that pit in your stomach and just want to disappear from sight.

A common response to shame is to vow to not reveal one's misstep to anyone. You've just done something wrong, something you may have even known was wrong. If our actions speak louder than words, doesn't doing something someone might consider wrong make you a little big wrong?

I've written about how talking about the not-so-perfect aspects of life on social media can contribute to an honest and positive social media environment. Now, I'm advocating that your honesty doesn't need to be blasted onto the internet for all the world to see for it to benefit the world. Being vulnerable and admitting your faults and missteps to a couple people will make you feel better.

I know, I know: One of the immediate symptoms of shame is to want to conceal your perceived shameful behavior from everyone. Hear me out. If you're experiencing shame without having your shameful behavior actually exposed to the world, you're feeling embarrassed in anticipation of what others might say. Just because you feel like you need to crawl into a hole doesn't mean that others think you should.

If you don't know how others are going to react — and you don't know unless they're actually reacting — there's often no point in trying to imagine. You can work with yourself to change how you perceive this failure. Telling others about your perceived failure can actually help you receive the validation and empathy you need in that situation. It can also lift the giant burden that accompanies keeping a shameful secret. Now, the experience gets to just be a human experience instead of a gross one.

To demonstrate the power of transparency when one is experiencing shame, I'm going to share a shameful secret of my own. I only shower once a week. Not wash my hair once a week, shower once a week. Everyone I know showers a couple times a week. Some people shower every day. I've met people who often shower twice a day. I know that once a week is not very often to shower, and I'm very ashamed of my showering habits. At the same time, this habit doesn't affect me negatively enough for me to divert any energy away from the more important things I'm working on to change it. I recently started telling people about this shameful habit of mine when it comes up in conversation. Instead of lying about why my hair looks nice and shiny on day 5, I answer honestly when someone asks: I haven't showered in 5 days. I don't even justify it with a lie about how often I use dry shampoo. I'm just honest.

And guess what: I'm still here, feeling better than ever! Most of the time, people move on pretty quickly, and I realize that this thing I've been feeling gross over for years isn't actually a big deal. Sometimes people even empathize, which makes me feel even better. Honestly, sometimes people express disgust. Maybe one day I'll shower more often, but it won't be because a couple people have told me my shower schedule doesn't match theirs.

So, you see, transparency can make your life better. Just like this transparent bodysuit has made my life better (I feel so sparkly and fun!). Except, unlike this item of clothing, honesty will never go out of style.

What do you do when you're experiencing shame? If you've tried honesty (either in certain situations or as a policy), how has it affected your life? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

OOTD: On Growth

*TW* Depression, anxiety, and other themes of mental health.

Last week, my therapist told me that the goal of life isn't to be perfect: it's to grow. This makes sense, and it isn't the first time I've heard it. No one can be perfect, and denying this makes making progress harder. It's hard to work when your goal is objectively unattainable. At the same time, though, this statement hit a little too hard. I've spent my whole life trying to be the best. What am I supposed to work towards if not perfection?

Dealing with depression and anxiety as an analytical person is interesting, because my emotion and reasonable mind are both regularly functioning on high and are often in conflict with each other. My emotion mind screams that I cannot possibly solve any given problem, and that there's no point in even trying because I was miserable before this problem arose and I'll likely be miserable even if I solve the problem. My reasonable mind overcompensates, telling me that I can solve every single issue I'm faced with, so long as I do everything right.

This is how I've tried to address everything in my life for as long as I can remember. Doing everything right, though, is exhausting. Sure, I'm taking good care of myself – I see my therapist weekly, my general practitioner regularly, I get in 30 minutes of exercise a day, I've cut back on sugars and added vegetables to my daily diet, I stretch every day, and I walk around with the most pertinent pages of my DBT handbook to deal with emergencies. But good is not perfection. I don't eat enough potassium, I could exercise more strenuously, I could eat plain oatmeal instead of adding brown sugar, I spend too much time in bed, and the other day, someone told me that I should go gluten-free if I wanted my depressive symptoms to ease up. In my mind, then, it doesn't matter that I'm doing better than I was a couple years ago: I'm not "cured" because I'm still not doing everything right.

And that's just to mention the things I know about that I could be doing better. Another key part of solving problems is being armed with knowledge. I am a firm believer that the more you know, the better you can do. I mean, I have a degree in psychology partially because I wanted to know everything about how to make myself "better" after being diagnosed with depression at age 15. Knowledge is a valuable power, but it's not the only power out there. 

After all, no one can know everything. Neither can you act on everything, as so much of what humanity knows is conflicting. So, striving toward knowing everything and behaving perfectly is inherently a doomed mission, certain only to create failure and self-doubt.

By no measure do I consider myself near perfection. I'm simply so obsessed with obtaining perfection in every aspect of my life that the growth I have made seems embarrassing when compared to my goal. I am so obsessed with obtaining perfection that, no matter what I do, I find myself trying to figure out how I could have done better, and how I'll do better next time. I am committed to growing and becoming a better person, more than I am committed to anything in life. Part of being a better person, I think, means being realistic and accepting of one's flaws and missteps. Plus, over-analyzing everything I do takes time away from actually living life. 

I'm not sure how to end this blog post because I'm still trying to figure out what I'm working towards if I'm not working to be the best. So, I'll end by saying that I've been waiting since the spring to wear this outfit with my denim jacket for the blog. It's the middle of October, but on the day my friend Sydney took photos of me, it was still too hot for a jacket. I'm going to post these pictures without thinking of how I should have worn this outfit another day or powered through and worn the jacket anyways. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

OOTD: On Second Glance

I've written a lot of posts about cycling items through your closet quickly and efficiently. Part of it is that I've moved 7 times in the last 4 years, so I've gone through my clothes fairly consistently since becoming an adult. Part of it is also that I only have the room and budget for a finite amount of clothing, so I really quickly buy and resell a lot of my wardrobe at thrift stores. If I don't wear it, I don't keep it.

I haven't often talked about the merits of keeping something you don't wear. Since moving here, I've found myself looking at old pictures, annoyed that I didn't keep this sweater or this skirt or this dress. I have less storage space here than I've had since I lived in a dorm room, so I've been going through my clothing regularly to take stuff to Crossroads to resell. Every time something sells at Crossroads, on Poshmark, or on Depop, I find myself worrying that I'm going to end up missing that item at some point down the road.

So, I've started experimenting with keeping some clothing that I haven't worn in a long time. This mostly means keeping some special pieces that don't fit me anymore, like these pants or these pants.

I actually totally unintentionally kept this dress despite not having worn it in over a year. I have a LOT of black dresses, and I guess this one just got lost in the mix. It wasn't until I was going through my entire closet this summer, trying to figure out my summer wardrobe, that I noticed it and reimagined wearing it in a new way.

I've owned this belt since I was in high school and this necklace since freshman year of college. You can't see in the photos, but the top is sheer, so I paired it with a bralette that I've had since freshman year of college that I'd kept in the hope that it would eventually fit again (thanks, past Hannah!). I hadn't worn this dress in a long time because it was a little baggy on me and I didn't like wearing a tank top under it to make it school appropriate. With a couple old accessories, though, I was able to wear the dress as a whole new look.

I walk the same route with my dog every day, twice a day. I've walked by this gorgeously growing building every day since I moved here. I've probably looked at it a couple dozen times, but I never really thought anything of it until a particularly sunny day a couple weeks ago. I was immediately drawn to the plants lining the stairs and fence. I thought it only appropriate to pair an outfit I'd once glazed over with a background I'd once done the same thing with.