I’m taking much longer than I need to decide. It seems trivial. I feel unsure, confused, puzzled.

An inner dialogue begins:

“Does it really matter what I wear today?

Yes, it really matters that I make the right impression. I want to make a good impression today!”

I’m missing something. I glimpse a sliver of insight. I feel unclear, I lose that glimmer of foresight, lapsing back into confusion.

I go on looking through my wardrobe and pick a few pieces in the back of the closet. Pieces I haven’t worn for a long while. On the surface, I tell myself the outfit is a classic, timeless. Deep down, I know the clothes I’ve chosen to wear don’t fit my style today. I realize this and yet I ignore the signals within.  

I go on with my day. I walk around in clothes that don’t fit. 

At this moment, I cringe at the compromises I’ve made in the past. The decisions to sacrifice, to step aside and allow choices I make to be those driven by voices that don’t truly belong to me. At once there was an inner voice of presence and insight, and yet a louder inner voice prevailed. The voice that seeks to impress. When did I decide to act more on making an impression, rather than showing up as my true self? It is an act. I do know that. I am reacting to past residual fears and insecurities that still impact me, particularly when I feel most self-conscious.

We are called upon to show our better self, our true self. Yet, we often hide behind masks, walking around in clothes that don’t fit.

I remember that day, and others like that day. There is one aspect in common. I awakened with fear in my heart, scared and anxious. I made choices based on those fears and in doing so, left my joyful, creative and daring side at home. I became complacent. I felt more like I am playacting on a stage, constantly in the spotlight, susceptible to feeling judged, assessed. So I pretend. I wear a costume, literally and figuratively.

In contrast, I recall the days that I awakened with joy in my heart. I am out the door with minimal angst and thought to my wardrobe. The choices I make are natural, fitting. I feel empowered, hopeful and effective, no matter the challenges I face. And, I faced challenges; many of them.

Coco Chanel said: “Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.” Ironically, when I perceived hard times as challenges to overcome, challenges to strengthen the person that I am deep down, I am more conscious and more present.

That’s what I was missing! That’s what I am missing when I fall into self-conscious mode. The irrational thought process that has me make decisions based more on what others think, and less about what I feel and believe deep down. In this moment, I realize that being conflicted, puzzled is a natural human condition. Being conscious of the feelings of discomfort, allowing the feelings to be processed and felt, helps to identify the range of emotions.

As my perceptions shift, I lean towards my best instinct. I shift from the impulse to impress, to wearing clothes that fit snugly. I am and live my personal best self, for today. I aim to allow the range of emotions to move me towards what I want – to feel joy and be daring, to be bold with grace.

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