Identity Crisis

It has been nearly three full months since I have purchased a new item of clothing. I haven’t set foot in a clothing store since early January (aside from the department store I work in) and I’m writing this on the cusp of April. This is wholly accidental, less of an intentional shopping detox than coming to the realization that the shops in my area to purchase from have nothing I want.

I must admit, however, that I have spent countless hours, almost every spare moment, scouring Pinterest, Amazon, eBay, and Google for new clothes. It makes me think that if I swear off online shopping and only shop in stores, I might actually save myself some time, even if I do go out shopping twice per week.

I tried to be efficient about it, honest! I made this terribly complicated Venn diagram detailing each aspect of inspiration I wanted to include in my wardrobe.

And then I made a Pinterest board for each area of the diagram and began my search. There was, and still is, just one problem.

I am incredibly picky. I’m the type of person who wants the exact clothes that are on my boards. But when I’m fortunate enough to find them, I cannot afford them. So I suppose that is the second problem- I am too poor to afford what I want. Beggars can’t be choosers, they say.

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I wish I could wear Alex Perry but even Elisabetta Franchi is out of my price range. Franchi and similar lines are, however, just barely out of my reach; they’re so close to my budget that it feels as though I could snap up their clothes because after all, a $300 Elisabetta Franchi Dress is far more reasonable to me than a $3,000 Alex Perry.

But no, I have to be strong. I must resist the urge to convince myself that I could afford that $300 dress because the truth is, I cannot. The truth hurts.

And so, I search. I google. I try all the reverse image clothing apps. Nothing comes up that I like love. As I go through the process of clearing out my closet, I tell myself that I should only purchase clothes I truly love. Clothes that would have me seething with regret and driving back to the store if I didn’t purchase them. I have two boxes at the foot of my bed- one for donating and one for selling. I’ve stripped my closet almost bare and I will need to build my wardrobe it from the fibers up, so to speak (Although I wonder if I cannot find anything I love that I can afford, I may have to make my own clothes circa Little House on the Prairie.)

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I think that perhaps the main reason I cannot find the clothes I love is because of this:

When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.'”

– Caitlin Moran

I have come to a point in my life where I can honestly say that I don’t know who I am, what I want, or who I want to be.

For the past year, I have been living in the limbo between high school and college commonly referred to as a gap year. For the past seven months, I’ve been trying to open a drop-shipping website. And when I say trying, what I really mean is only working on the site once or twice a month at the most and using the excuse of “Oh I’m still waiting on paperwork from the Department of State,” which is the truth, I haven’t been lying to people, but it is just a cover to explain why the site is not open for business yet. In all reality, I could have- and should have- had this site up and running in January.

I’ve also been trying to make this dress:

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As of right now, I have the pattern halfway marked onto some cheap, practice fabric for me to sew before I starting cutting into the top shelf $15/yard fabric. I could have and should have had this dress completed by New Years 2018.

I thought that my gap year was going to be different. I thought that since I wouldn’t have any homework to do, I would have so much free time. Whenever I wasn’t selling my soul (I’m a retail worker; there’s a reason we have that infamous deadass retail worker stare) for credit card applications and minimum wage, I could work on my projects. It would be so simple, I would be so productive! We all know how that has turned out.

I have one more little confession to make. The primary reason I started this website business was to impress my dream college. I thought that if I did something amazing and unique then I would stand out and have a solid chance of being accepted. Perhaps that is why I lacked the motivation to work on it- I was only doing it to impress a group of people 456 miles away on one of the oldest campuses in the US. I wasn’t doing it for me. Of course, I’ll still continue with it, maybe. I do need money (college is expensive and I was really going after the solid financial aid that is offered at America’s wealthiest colleges) after all and drop-shipping has practically zero overhead.

But instead, whenever I wasn’t selling my soul for credit card applications and minimum wage 25-30 hours a week, I have been doing absolutely nothing of import. I couldn’t even tell you what I’ve don’t with all my free time. But, if I had to guess, an estimated amount of time spent from most to least, it would look a little something like this

  1. Internet shopping (but never buying anything)
  2. Reddit (I plan to delete my account very soon)
  3. Random internet searches and browsing
  4. Sleeping
  5. Scrolling on the Instagram popular page

So now I’m here, at the end of March, with nothing to show for the past year and an empty wardrobe, about to go off to the only college I was accepted to which I’m less than jazzed about. (Mom came into my room last night after I texted her the bad news and said, ‘Hi Little *name of school mascot* and I started sobbing harder than I already was; I’ve never cried for six hours straight before.)

I spent those six hours sobbing, obviously, and trying to figure why I wasn’t good enough. Was it because my test scores weren’t perfect? Maybe my 3.9 (out of 4) weighted GPA was too low (the average at my dream college is 4.2). If only I had applied during my senior year, I bet my gap year wasn’t all that impressive and it made me look lazy. Maybe if I had stayed in ballet class at 15 I would a ballet star by now and then they’d be begging me to attend their school. If only I used my gap year better, retaken the SATs, added the ACT, did something academic like conducting biological research at Roswell Park (damn you for not doing something academic)…

But what I’ve noticed about myself is that I did the exact same thing on my gap year as while I was in school. I came home from school or work, did my homework, and nothing else. Sure, I had extracurriculars on my application- Class Secretary, Senior Prefect, tutor to elementary students, drama, speech competitions, and awards. But what I believe I lacked was a true passion. An activity that makes me lose track of time due to my sheer enjoyment of and fascination with it. I was, and am, decidedly boring.

Sure, my friends will say otherwise. I’m intelligent and I make them laugh and we have a good time together. That still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t know what I want or who I want to be. I have asked myself, “If I had all the money in the world and all the time in the world, what would I do?” Time and again my answer has been, “Idk.” and I would push that to the back of my mind because that’s ok I’m starting a business and learning to sew.

Ok that’s a nice sob story but what does it have to do with fashion?

Idk. All I know is that I’ve spent the last year online shopping and looking at clothes and taking style quizzes and figuring out that I’m a Bright, not a Soft Muted, and that I like fitted clothes that define my waist and discovering designers I’ve never heard of or cared about before so it’s safe to say that I like fashion. It makes me lose track of time. So instead of just sitting in bed, scrolling endlessly through Pinterest, I’m going to do something with it. Even if doing something is as simple as writing a blog (I always was very good at writing in school).

I fully intend to apply to my dream college next year as a transfer. The odds will be even less in my favor than applying as a freshman. It makes me think for a second that maybe instead of doing something with fashion I should be out in the world doing some type of activism or starting a nonprofit or trying to end world hunger or fighting for education in developing countries– something revolutionary and important that would impress the college and actually help people. But we know how well trying to impress the college worked out this time around.

Besides, clothes and fashion and style are important to me. And that’s what counts.

Being boring and passionate-less is like a cancer I’ve been carrying around inside me all these years. It makes it hard to get up in the morning and hard to go to bed as I search the internet for something to keep me occupied, distracted. It is what I am now convinced has made me so unproductive in-spite of being on the High Honor Roll.

So I guess here’s to hoping that by cleaning my closet I can also clean my soul.

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