I got into the elevator at work next to another lady. On the ride up to my floor, I noticed she was approximately my age, had a similar haircut, but she was in a business dress suit, pumps, rolling a briefcase and looked very polished.
I glanced at my reflection in the shiny elevator doors taking in my flowy pants, long shirt and duster cardigan. I definitely didn’t look polished. I looked comfortable, but not polished.
After exiting the elevator I started some serious negative self talk. I wanted to look professional and polished. Even when I do put on makeup and do my hair, I fall short of the term “polished”.
I sat down at my desk, heavy with feelings of inadequacy.
But before getting too lost in this self-loathing spiral, I challenged what I was thinking on whether it was true or not. I felt unprofessional next to her, but am I really? My work ethic is great, I get regular promotions and raises. I am definitely a professional at what I do. So there was no reason for me to feel “unprofessional”. That wasn’t true.
Yes, she looked more “polished” than I did. But what if she resents having to dress up everyday for work. What if, she looked at me and was envious of my comfortable clothing. Whoa!
And to take it even further, her outfit was very nice, but it was basic and boring. There was no personality to it. Not even the jewelry she was wearing gave me any hint about who she was.
I like to show my quirkiness through my clothing. I like to look nice and put together, but you can do that and have some fun too with a pair of unique earrings or a bright color or cute, flowery shoes.
After thinking things through, I didn’t feel bad anymore.
Here are some tips to help you to keep your sense of self and be okay with it.
There is a reason you are drawn to certain items.
If I had decided I needed to look more like her and gone to a store to buy a business suit, I would have never picked the one she had on. Like I said, it was pretty boring. I probably would have picked a different color or a pattern or something that made it stand out a little.
The things you are drawn to speak to the essence of who you are. You can try different looks, and I encourage that, but what you are drawn to is connecting on a deep level with who you truly are and you need to own that uniqueness. Don’t hate it.
Don’t compare yourself with others or make assumptions.
Here’s what got me in trouble in the first place. That woman and I are not the same. We have totally different lives, expectations, skills, tastes and situations.
Maybe she has a really strict dress code at work. Maybe she thinks bright clothes are too flashy. Who knows?
I’m sure it takes her a lot longer to get ready in the morning than myself. Would the difference in how I looked be worth the extra time to achieve it? Probably not.
Showing who you are through visual clues makes you more approachable.
For me, cookie-cutter perfect makes a person less approachable. I love people (most of the time) and that everyone is different. My less-than-perfect dress and quirkiness draws people to me. I’m more approachable and some of the weird things I wear are great conversation starters.
The point is that we are all unique. Celebrate what makes you different and don’t hate on it. If there is something you would like to improve about yourself, by all means, go for it, but don’t resent how you are now.
People who own their uniqueness are way more beautiful than anyone trying to be something they aren’t. Remember that!
What about you? Anyone else get caught up in comparing themselves to others? Have a similar story you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments below.
Okay being me,