Seventh grade brought bouffant bangs and embarrassing boy stories. Eighth grade brought braces and a permanent.
Ninth grade? By ninth grade I had tamed the frizz and the sky high bangs. I went for a simple bob with a straight fringe in the front. Ninth grade was also the year of my favorite outfit. I had graduated to shopping at Express and that year I had purchased a hot pink pencil skirt. I paired it with a cobalt blue scoop neck t-shirt, tucked in. Through the belt loops? I would string one of those mexican woven belts, the kind that you could tie in a pretty knot with braided tassels hanging down.
I took my yearbook picture in that cobalt blue shirt. I know that I know that just below the frame is my beloved pink skirt. Blue t-shirt. Wispy bangs. Curly bob. Freckled nose. Braces. Hopeful heart.
From the first time I saw plaid skirts and knee high socks and preppy blazers splattered across a fall Seventeen spread, I’d always believed that clothes had the power of story, that they could make something out of nothing.
It’s not true, though. Meaningful, lasting, fellowship inducing beauty comes from the inside. But when what’s inside is incredibly frail and insecure and limited by self? You distract.
This year I’ve done a good bit of hard heart work, the kind of work that rubs grace all over those inward places. No more distracting.
I challenged myself to wait: never to buy the first time I saw that perfect shirt unless it had been on my list for a long time. I avoided Target because even though I already have at least ten cardigans if I see a pink and gray striped boyfriend cardigan for fifteen dollars something happens in my head and all of the sudden I cannot live without it even though I am five foot one and a boyfriend cardigan comes down below my knees. I’ll always love Target. I will. I’m just starting to question if I need everything they tell me I need right when they tell me I need it. I’ve become the ultimate skeptic when it comes to colored denim.
Just the other day? I took the experiment to a new level. There was that bubble gum pink and soft gray striped boyfriend cardigan. I wanted it. They even had it in mustard yellow, which i double heart. But i already have ten cardigans. Ten. That’s two work weeks with no repeats. Weekends don’t count.
So. I walked away and I thought about my friend, my friend who just finished a week of something new. She had been nervous, getting ready months in advance. This friend? She’s awesome and she knows that you cannot find a better snack in this world than a cold coca cola and a handful of cheez-its.
I bought the coca cola and I bought the cheez-its and all the other random things I had actually come for. I got right in my car and I drove to her house. The whole way? The biggest smile I could muster spread across my face. I was giddy.
Sometimes it feels good to say no just so that you can say yes to something else. To give instead of get. To stop distracting and start loving.