Sunday, July 20, 2014

On Being an Anomaly

"I don't understand you," my best friend said, eyeing my outfit on the bus. We were on our way to the local Famers' Market, and I'd dressed for the occasion -- my old Ray Bans with their Lilly Pulitzer sunglass strap, Nike running shorts, and a man tank, with my feather statement necklace that I wear all the time. "You're preppy... but you also dress like a hipster sometimes... and you wear workout clothes on a daily basis. You're just an anomaly." 

"I don't think there's anything wrong with that," I replied. And it's true -- I spent a lot (and I mean, a lot) of time my freshman and sophomore years worrying about how people perceived me. College isn't like high school -- no one actually ever tells you they have a problem with your style -- but all the same, there's still this lingering pressure to conform to one societal group or another. And, being girls, the way that one conforms to a social group is by dressing the part. There are the sorority girls, with their Lilly and their oversized spirit jerseys, the gym rats, who only ever wear Norts and running shoes, or the hipsters, who thrift shop like it's their job... with your occasional authentic country girl or alternative chick or history buff thrown in every once in a while. These are the primary styles of people (or, at least, clothing) at my school. 

I tried fitting in one category or another, rotating around my wardrobe depending on the season or my current mood, but I found that no one style -- or lifestyle -- fit me exclusively. I had this moment of clarity at the beginning of this summer where I was standing in J. Crew, ooh-ing and aah-ing over an outfit I loved, and I had the thought, I'll never attract the type of guy I want to date if I start dressing like a prep... and that was about the moment my common sense kicked in: I was trying to dress/look/act a certain way just to get people to like me. It really bothered me that that's the way my college tends to see people, and I decided I didn't want to be a part of that.

So now, if I want to buy a cute dress at J. Crew or Nordstrom (and I have the money in my bank account), I'll buy it. If I want to wear my 'old man' sweater that I found at Goodwill for $3 or a vintage dress I bought at a thrift store, I'll wear it. If I want to listen to vinyl and read the latest issue of The New Yorker while looking through the Lilly Pulitzer fall styles, I'll do it. There is so much simplicity that comes from deciding to be exactly who you want, without letting yourself be bothered by those who would want to place everyone into neat, organized categories. Life isn't that way -- it's messy and people are complex and sometimes jocks write poetry or sorority girls skateboard. It's okay. 

We're all anomalies in one way or the other, and if I want to be a preppy writer, so help me, that's exactly what I'm going to be. 

Are you an anomaly, too? How so? Talk to me in the comments! ;) 


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