When I got dressed this morning, I put on one of my favorite dresses. I found it at Nordstrom Rack on sale at an amazing price, and I love the way it fits. It looks stylish, but it is so soft it feels like a sweatshirt. I found it in late fall, so today is the first day I wore it without tights or leggings underneath. I paired it with robin egg blue J.Crew ballet flats, put my hair in a high messy bun, and went to work.
As I ended my work day, I went to the post office to mail a few letters. On the way in, I approached a man who was walking in the other direction. He looked at me and said, “Now THAT is a DRESS! WAY to GO!”
Taken aback, I smiled at him and said, “Thanks,” and walked past.
For the next twenty minutes I couldn’t make up my mind how to feel. Was he complimenting me? Or was he being sleazy? My mind raced. The way he said it wasn’t creepy, so it was probably a compliment. But what if the dress was too short? What if he was saying it looked bad? All my inner insecurities reared their ugly heads and I frantically called my best friend (who didn’t answer), one of my sisters (who also didn’t answer) and my other sister (who did answer).
After hearing the story, she said, “Of course he meant you rocked it! If you looked terrible, he wouldn’t have said a word, or would have secretly taken a picture of you with his phone to make fun of! Settle down!” I didn’t believe her, so I took a snapshot and sent her a shot of what I was wearing, just to be sure. Here is what I had on:
My sister couldn’t believe that I had been so paranoid about a simple, cute dress. She laughed at my worries, and helped me to see how silly I’d been.
A bit more reflection, though, made me begin to wonder why I had been unable to take a compliment, as it most likely had been meant. Why did I assume that when someone told me I looked great, I assumed they didn’t mean it? Where is my self-esteem, and why did I doubt myself so severely?
I contrast my reaction to those of my kids, who 100% always think they look awesome. My daughter usually dresses like this:
Let’s be clear here – this outfit is not an anomaly. She believes that the brighter and fancier the outfit, the better. She will add color and bling and ribbons to no end. And pink – the more pink the better. She never has a doubt that the clothes she puts on each day are 100% amazing. Her confidence is rock solid.
When does that change?
I assume that when I was a child, I felt the same way about what I wore. When did I get so insecure about my appearance?
It’s not good news when an actual compliment makes me lose my mind. I have only one answer: I lost my awesomeness! This, of course, is completely unacceptable. I am doing my best to raise a daughter who doesn’t let the world around her mold who she will be. I want her to be strong, independent, and totally herself. How can I teach her to do this when I don’t believe in myself the way I should? My resolution is to try to reclaim my awesomeness over the next few weeks. I am going to try to remember what it was like to be confident in my choices, and try my hardest to believe more in myself. Also, I need to learn to take a compliment, apparently.