Words can hurt. I am almost laughing out loud as I write this since I am reminded of an insurance commercial that has been coming on recently. They say "did you know that words can hurt?" Then a cowboy rides into the sunset and hits his head on the words "the end". Have you seen that one? It's comical but also something to think about. Words can hurt us- maybe not physically like this, but mentally and emotionally.
Words can also help. I have a practice that I like to do and that is look at the positive in everything. If a situation presents itself, I try to look for something to learn from it- whether it is positive or negative.
I've been thinking a lot lately about what I do and who I am. A friend asked me a couple of weeks ago about when I got into fashion and styling and all of that. I was reminded why I take pride in the way that I look and why I try to always look nice and presentable.
I think the year was 2000 and I was working in a bank as an assistant manager. We were preparing for Y2K- remember that? Anyways, in my position, I had to run a teller drawer a lot of the time. I don't know if you are familiar with working in a bank, but it is a dirty job. You work with money all day and it is so filthy! Not to mention that you are sometimes crawling on the floor working on computers or picking up money or whatever- you get the picture. I am so glad I have moved into other positions as the years have passed!
So one day, my manager pulled me into her office and told me that I wasn't dressing well enough for my position as an assistant manager. I'm not sure what her expectations were exactly since I thought I dressed pretty well considering everything that I had to do. Keep in mind that almost daily I wore a skirt or dress and always matched. I had no hygiene issues and I was always on time. Words can hurt.
I have no idea why she decided at that time to single me out and make me feel so small. I have no idea why people think it's okay to say things to other people.
I remember that I wasn't making a lot of money and that I was living in an apartment with a roommate. I remember going home and crying my eyes out because I was so embarrassed. I remember that I was supposed to go to my parents' house that night and do my laundry. I remember calling crying and saying that I wasn't going to come over that night and telling them what happened. Words can hurt.
I got a phone call later from my dad telling me that he had arranged a personal style session at Lord and Taylor and that he and my step mom wanted to buy me some clothes to wear to work. My step mom took me into the store and the stylist there pulled items that suited my shape, my age and my profession. I then learned it was okay to pair a yellow linen jacket over a pair of navy pleated dress pants (hey, it was the style) and a nice blouse. I learned how to look for items that suited me. I was able to then take that knowledge and shop at other stores- even thrifting was more fun now that I understood better what looked good on me!
I remember going back into work after I went home with new clothes. I remember vividly walking in the door and the look that she gave me. She then turned to a coworker and said "did you get a new vest?" I won't mention any names in case if that person ever reads this. Words can hurt.
It was then that I realized that sometimes we will never live up to peoples' expectations. Sometimes people are so unhappy with themselves that they take it out on everyone else. Sometimes people are intimidated by others and choose to hurt them rather than find out how they got to where they are.
Words can also help. Because I remember so vividly that experience, I vowed I would never treat people that way. Yes, people get on my nerves. Yes, I don't always like something. I don't know what that person is going through and I don't want to be the one that puts them over the edge.
I've also learned as I've gotten older how important it is to build each other up- especially women. I think that's why I love being in the Instagram community that I am in because people build each other up and help each other. I also know that as we get older, we have fewer close friends. We have a lot of acquaintances or people we are in groups with, but as you grow older, your circle of friends tends to grow smaller. People get busier as they get older- they have careers, kids, hobbies, etc. that keep them busy. Take the time to encourage those in your circle as often as you can.
So there you have it. That's when I became interested in representing myself on a different level. I think growing up wearing only dresses or skirts or culottes, I was always more overdressed. We were also taught that the way we dressed also had a lot to do with our testimony as a Christian. While I don't criticize others for dressing up (or even dressing, for that matter), I feel it is important for me to show myself in a positive manner and also show the world how I use style to show more about myself and who I am. I am a positive person who loves to laugh and have fun. I am an encourager and a listener and a counselor. I am a wife, a mother, a friend. I am a teacher, a colleague, an MBA graduate. I am a book club founder, a soccer coach, a crafter, a blogger. My list goes on and on and the number of people that I can influence positively is endless. Words can hurt. Words can help.
Here are a few pictures from my earlier years for the Throwback:
This one was post high school and probably college days. I remember vividly taking this picture in our church. I happen to love the permed hair and the gigantic blazer with skirt.
This one is a favorite- I think I was a senior in high school and I happened to love this plaid flannel shirt! How about those huge glasses too?
These next two would have been about 2000 when the infamous incident happened. Apparently I loved purple....I made the dress in the left picture and wore it to a co-worker's wedding and the right picture was in church and was also an example of what I would wear to work.
As you can see, I always have loved color and dressing up. While the trends have changed through the years, I continue to try to stay on point with my wardrobe and dress for my shape and age. It's important to me to dress well and have a positive outlook on life. While those words hurt me from my former manager, they also helped me to gain the knowledge and confidence that I need to look better and feel good about myself and my appearance. I'd say, if you could see me now...
Thanks for reading and following along with me. This was actually therapeutic in writing, looking through pictures and reminiscing with all of you.