The years of lost self were accentuated by jobs in retail, where how I dressed was dictated to me, a brand representative - elegant luxury, All-American denim, all black professional, hippy chick, feminine frills, night club tart, casual heritage, and sporty spice - with each company branding came a change in wardrobe, a change in image, and a further confusion about how I could express myself through the way I dressed.
Self-image isn’t just about clothing, but for me they were intrinsically tied. The style defeat that I felt was a representation of my lack of success in my career. I never felt like me, and I always felt like I didn’t fit in. I was out of place, not from around here, a country girl trying to compete with a city image - and attitude.
Following the rules was all I had to go by. It was what I had learnt from a very young age. "Follow the rules and you will be successful." But this seemed far from the truth. I could score super high in all the expectations of an organisation, but I just wasn’t ‘good enough’ to ever be promoted. “You don’t fit into the team…”, the other girls don’t like you… was what I heard.
But I couldn’t fit in, I wasn’t from around here. I was a country girl - and I wasn’t as cool as the city chicks… No matter how hard I tried to impress them...
In the period of 8 years living in the big smoke, I had lost all sense of the dream of who I could be. And all I saw was the puddle of shallowness of the experiences of my past. My hideous same-same wardrobe told the stories of my failures. I was nobody in comparison to everybody else. By trying to fit in I lost myself.
I hid in the shadows so that no one would see me. Ashamed at the outside representation of me. An easy wall-blending nobody.
Oh so very different to who I was as a child.
Fashion spoke to me from a very young age. A type 4 on the Enneagram, I crave individuality - I don’t want to fit in, I want to stand out. I did this with clothing. Dreaming over pattern books, labouring over a sewing machine, creating masterpieces that expressed who I was and showed the world my slice of uniqueness - that was what I spent my teenage years doing. It didn’t matter that I was from the country, it didn’t matter that I didn’t have the latest trends, what mattered was that I could be who I was and wear the things that I wanted to wear - the magic of university and being young allowed this into my early 20’s.
But I lost this in Sydney. I lost this in corporate jobs, I lost this in trying to be part of a 'team' - until the moment I decided that I didn’t want to fit in anymore.
Faced with joining a new team again - in a totally different industry, I realised I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t fit into the black corporate zombie world that was before me - it wasn’t just against my fashion sense to go black suit, but it was against my personal ‘ethics' to fit into an office culture.
It was just a short term contract, so I thought to myself, “I’m not going to be here for a long time, so I’ll be here for a good time.”
Earning more money than I had before, and no uniform allowance (and policy!) to buffer my purchases, I finally had the freedom to choose for me. And I emphatically 'owned it'.
I realised that I loved bright colours too much to wear black. I realised that fun shoes were my thing. I realised that mixing patterns made me happy - and I realised that I loved to dress up everyday.
I became the character that I wanted to be in my future. I began to dress for the person and the career I wanted to be and have - and I stopped dressing for my colleagues and the world around me, and started dressing just for me.
And I fucking loved every minute of it.
Swanning around in fifties dresses, polka dot shoes, and bright stand out colours - I looked like no one else at work - and everybody noticed. I became the fun playful happy person that I wanted to be - and this became my competitive advantage. I embraced my multi-passionate personality, my entrepreneurial spirit, and my creativity - and I easily moved between roles within the company until I secured the role that I really wanted...
One that enabled me to begin my business, and gives me the freedom to work anywhere in the world while I build it.
As soon as I put the story of my past behind me and focused only on bringing the life that I wanted into my world, through my personal style, through my work, through thinking like an entrepreneur, through being who I am unashamedly and absolutely ‘OWNING IT’, everything began to fall into place. All the things that I’d seemingly done wrong in other jobs, suddenly were right when I did them from a place of self-belief in who I was right now. And it totally did not matter in the slightest that I didn’t fit in.
Hanging onto old stories weighs you down and makes the journey insanely difficult. But being you in the moment is what will get you to where you want to go. By choosing right now what is in your control to get you where you want to go - you will get there faster.
So I may have thrown out a lot of clothes in the last 3 years. I have shed many a skin of who I used to be. And I most definitely done a lot of experimenting and playing of who I want to become - but fuck I love the outfits I put on every day - I love who I am and the stories I tell myself for what I am building.
My stories will always be a part of me - they got me to where I am - but they are merely a prelude to a great adventure of the life I live and the future yet to come.
Are you ready to take this adventure too?