Freedom: When you know you can, but you don’t have to; it’s not the rule that stops you, but the choice to follow set parameters that will keep you safe.
You roll out of bed in the morning and head straight for your closet. Another morning of “what to wear.” Your first hope is to look cute, with also taking into consideration your agenda for the day. Yet, after a few indecisive moments, insecurity seeps in. You begin to worry of what your body looks like, what’s in style, what you haven’t worn in a while (what if someone sees you in the same shirt?), and what others may think of you.
An hour and a half later your wardrobe is on the floor as frustration comes over you like a flood. “Nothing looks good on me, all my clothes suck, and why do I even try.” (I’ve been in this place a countless number of times). From too flashy to not flashy enough. One outfit is perfectly revealing if you run into “you know who,” but risky if you walk into someone else. After many doubts and concerns, the lasting question is: Why do we even care about what people think in regards to what we wear? Does what we wear even matter? Should we give in or give up when it comes to being “fashionable”?
Let’s start with identity. For when we know who we are, we know that our identity does not lie solely in what we wear anyways. Our individual style is a beautiful art in which we can express who we are, what we love, and the creativity within us; but it should not define us. When it does, simple tasks such as getting dressed become as overwhelming as the scenario above.
So, how do we escape the frustration of laying too much weight on our outer appearance?
Let it Go
How do we release ourselves from the expectations of others? What do we need to let go of first? What do we need to give?
I have learned that sometimes (perhaps even most) we just need to let go of any rules, regulations, and expectations that are holding us in bondage. If you have moments where you’re heart burns with desire… but then it’s put out solely by holding on to an outside influence too tight, I encourage you to seek a breakthrough.
It may start with publishing your personal writing, sharing a dream with your family, posting what you actually want to on social media, wearing an exotic piece of clothing, taking a break from school, a job, or relationship (especially if causes you to be bound or unhappy), just take a chance!
Still, there are boundaries that keep us safe, but also those that keep us living in fear. Meditate on or discuss with a loved one what it is that holds you back from freedom, and come against that in breaking perfectionism in your life.
Is it fear of man, fear of failure, or a negative experience in the past that haunts you? Love, let it go.
Focus on Somebody Besides Yourself
“While my journey from severe depression and amidst mental health challenges has been multifaceted, one thing I have learned is this: The more I try to fix myself, the more captive I become. However, the more I rest in my intrinsic value and worth, the more freedom I experience. Additionally, the more I forget myself, the more wide-awake I am to the people and experiences around me.”
“I’ve discovered the further I take a genuine interest in other people, the more secure I am with who I am. One beauty secret is this: You will become more beautiful in one day by loving other people than you will in one year by trying to get other people to love you. I now believe in the splendidness and freedom of self-forgetfulness.”
-Allie Marie Smith
Be Aware of Your Influencers
“If you’re concerned with understanding people around you and becoming a better, more confident, more caring person, be careful to not absorb feedback from just anyone. It can be difficult to have a full perspective of yourself from your own point of view, so this is when character feedback becomes important. Think about whose opinions you value: your spouse, your best friend, your parents; your boss, employee, or co-worker; mentors, pastors, or coaches. Whoever it is, determine who are the people who can best speak into your life and help give you direction. These are the people who really know you and can help you recognize the difference between a momentary failing and a negative pattern. These are the outlooks that matter.”
Wear What You Love
When we look at our wardrobe as a whole, there are usually pieces we don’t even like, others we haven’t worn in ages; then there are pieces we can’t get enough of, and ones we’d buy the same of again. To add on, there’s usually even more than land in between.
I started making serious progress in the way I spent money, got dressed, and organized my wardrobe when I began to minimize my pieces by – keeping, wearing, and buying only clothes and accessories that I love. For someone like me, I know there’s a tendency to “love” a lot of items, so I took it one step further to consider functionality. What clothes are actually adding value to my life? Do they express who I am and what I value?
That may seem to be overkill to you- but really what’s the point of investing in anything that doesn’t add value to our lives or the lives of others? We may be quick to purchase something that is “in style,” but do we know ourselves well enough to discern whether or not we will actually wear it… and personally, love it.
This is another practice that starts small, yet eventually leads us to simplify our lives, understanding our identity, and standing strong in who we are. Why? Because we are seeking purpose in the aspects of our lives that were designed to be influential in the first place. How you dress is influential, and the first person it influences should be yourself. Then, the world too can benefit greatly from seeing who you are.
Give Yourself Time
We often jump into ‘discovery mode’ believing that results will remain the same. Yet, isn’t the best part of discovery is just that- the exploration into something new. When we step into newness we must accept that it isn’t going to look, smell, feel, or sound like before. The temptation to compare our present to the past continues. Grasping on to how things once were, how a relationship ended before, or how a past scenario went; we place ourselves in God’s position, “knowing” what is going to come next. Regardless, we are blind to what the future holds and what results are going to come from new endeavors.
If we are going to take the step into finding God, ourselves, our style, and what works best for our life; we gotta remember that not everything is going to work. And, when they do, they probably will not start working right away. So my friend, give yourself time. This journey is a process.
1 Corinthians 6:12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
Galatians 5:13-14 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”