Some people are clothes horses because they are beautiful, some because they are trying to buy their way out pain and chaos, and some are like me. Clothes tell you something about me. Hopefully that I am neat, fashionable and well dressed. That I am a professional. That I care about myself, and that I have achieved a certain standard of life. And I don't think the people who look at me, other than Mr. Spit, know the most important truth about my clothes. Clothes are armour to me. I buy a lot of clothes because I don't ever feel like I fit in.
I'm sitting on a charity committee at work. And the rest of the women on the committee are tall and skinny and are seen as "achievers" within the organization. They are movers and shakers, and can wear whatever they want. A skirt that lands mid calf has never daunted them, and they've never tried on something and looked like a teal patterned stuffed potato.
And you know what? I'm just me. And I'm awkward and self-conscious, and I wind up feeling stupid and inarticulate, like the "untouchable" in 3rd grade, who never can get the rules of social interaction right. I watch What Not to Wear, and I'm never sure if I'm getting all the rules right. I try to be well dressed, but I think I look frumpy. I wear make-up, but I can't get rid of the acne. So, I sit silently next to these women, utterly unlike who I normally am. Not confident enough to speak up, not thinking I have anything worth saying.
I started thinking about feeling self-conscious in July, when I was getting ready to go to a new knitting night, and I was agonizing about what knitting to take. This wasn't the normal agonizing of a knitter trying to figure out what project to bring on a trip, that would hold her attention, and not finish before the trip did.
No, this was the "what will they think of me?" agonizing. Do I bring really hard lace knitting, even though I know full well I cannot knit full on lace while talking to people and I will end up ripping it out at home? Do I bring the cardigan, that is the same cardigan that everyone and their dog knit, 2 years ago, showing that I am behind and out of touch? Do I bring my vanilla socks, that I am knitting for TGND, for Christmas? They aren't exciting, they are basic socks. No patterning. Or do I bring the baby sweater, which needs to get finished up, but is a really plain pattern? I'm not going to look like a hip, cool, with it knitter knitting this baby sweater pattern. I'm going to look like a rank amateur.
And here I am. It doesn't matter that I have chaired boards with a quarter of a million dollar budget. It doesn't matter that I'm active in my community, that I'm very happily married to an incredible man. It doesn't matter that my mother likes me, that I'm well read or politically involved. All of that goes flying out the window when faced with new people, or even just particularly skinny, attractive ones I already know.
Here I am, 30 years old, and I'm worried what other people will think of me. No, I'm still worried. I worried that I am a terrible geek, a social outcast, the fat girl in the corner, who sniffles and wears bad clothing. I am worried that my horrible childhood nickname will resurface, that I am ugly and that I am stupid. I'm worried I don't quite measure up.
Does this feeling of never fitting in, of not being popular or liked ever go away?
I tell kids in high school that these are nowhere near the best years of your life. In fact, University isn't the best years of your life. According to that logic, I should be in the best years of my life.
(and I know that all of you will tell me that I'm great, and I appreciate that. I know that women I respect and admire and want to be like will tell me that I have worth and merit and good ideas. The point is the why, oh why do we feel like this?)