I’ve been thinking a lot lately about going against the grain and what that does to boost your sense of self and get you closer to the things you want to achieve. Sometimes it works, and others it doesn’t. I’ve always struggled with desperately wanting to be different yet secretly wanting to be accepted by the people around me. I’ve had daydreams of a career on my own yet return to the corporate world again and again when the going gets tough and the money runs out. I will often take big leaps, only to find out I’m actually pretty risk averse. But in my mind, I’m a radical maverick who bucks tradition and laughs in the face of sameness. Hahaha!! Hello, mirror, can I look into you to get a dose of the truth?!
Writing a style blog is kind of my public identity crisis where these two desires clash. In blogging, going against the grain doesn’t necessarily help you. I want to be different and offer up a different point of view, but there is also a very clear set of successful bloggers who all wear the same things, pick up on the trends quickly and then set the tone for brands and readers around what is stylish and fashionable and popular. Sometimes I just want to follow their formula in the hopes of making it big.
Take mules and off the shoulder everything. I hated both of these trends when they started and refused to wear them. Eventually, more and more of these things popped up on blogs and Instagram and all the shelves at stores and eventually onto the sale racks to the point where it was so ingrained in our minds as ‘style’ that I actually started to visually LIKE them. I bought several off-the shoulder tops and dresses. I gave into the 90s shoe trend that I hated even back then – MULES. Ugh – seriously, this shoe is the worst – why would you wear a shoe without a back?! It will fall off and you walk around clenching your toes trying to make sure it won’t. But now I’m into it! These orange suede mules are kind of my favorite shoe for spring, and this floral off-the-shoulder dress is super easy-breezy for a date night (even though it does get a little wrinkled!).
And just like that, I’m with the grain. Honestly – it’s easier to go with the grain. In this case, it means I’m on-trend and relevant, so it’s a somewhat good thing if I want people to recognize me as a legit blogger and brand ambassador. But it also feels like I’m a follower, which I HATE. Sure I’m using fashion analogies – probably really bad ones – but I think a lot of women and girls struggle with leading v. following and being different v. being the same. Being different gives you an identity all your own! But it also means you sometimes stand alone, which can be scary. Especially scary if you see people gaining success while you aren’t. Especially scary when your money runs low. Scary when your career plans don’t work out. Scary when someone makes you feel bad. And on and on.
So what’s the right answer? Most people would say whatever you freakin’ want it to be. Do whatever the heck you want. And I’ll buy that. After all, it is my year of giving zero f@#*s. Some might say, you have to change your definition of ‘success’. Sure, I can do that too. The last thing I want is to look back on my life and wish I’d done it my way. Not theirs. If you’re someone who is grappling with this – in your work, your art, your blog, your career – you’re not alone and you’ve got a friend in me. I don’t know the right answer, but in my quest to care less about what others think, I believe there’s gotta be a healthier balance that includes a little bit more against to go with all my with the grain.
Got any tips or thoughts? I’d love to hear from you! And p.s. turns out if you buy mules with a lower heel and a large chunk of fabric that covers your foot, you don’t struggle to keep them on….who knew?!