I have nothing to wear.
I often think this, even though I have a closet FULL of clothes.
The other morning was one of those days. Sure I have clothes to wear — and a stack of dirty laundry to do — but I didn't want to wear any of them. None of them seemed "good enough."
Flashback to junior high ...
All the cool kids were wearing those uber rad T-shirts that said "A&F" on them. (Bonus points for puka shell necklaces.) It seemed everyone had them ... except me.
My mom was anti-Abercrombie. As a savvy shopper accustomed to Kohl's pricetags, there was no convincing her that whatever ludicrous price Abercrombie was charging for those pieces of cotton was acceptable.
I get it now, ma.
But at the time, I thought you ruined my life and I would NEVER be accepted as a human in this cruel world because I didn't have an A&F shirt.
OK, flash-forward to the other morning ...
I've grown up. (Right?) I know that my livelihood is not defined by a logo on my chest. But a piece of my junior high self made an appearance as I was getting dressed.
See, I work in an advertising agency. Agency folk are not only good at marketing their clients, but also at marketing themselves. I mean, if you look around the office, there are some pretty attractive people ... and a lot of designer labels. No A&F shirts, but plenty of Baldwin Denim and J. Crew. And the latest and greatest in hipster apparel from H&M.
My wardrobe mostly comes from gifts, second-hand shops and the occasional online sale purchase if I get really crazy.
The other morning, these items weren't enough. I wanted to look like those beautiful co-workers. The same Cara who wanted to walk into Abercrombie wanted to walk into J. Crew and just buy things like it was Tuesday.
I settled on something to wear and went to work with my head down, feeling insignificant. I smiled at pretty co-workers, the same way I used to smile at pretty girls in A&F shirts and puka shell necklaces.
And then I did what my 13-year-old self should have done.
I recognized how ludicrous my feelings were. I paused. Breathed. And let it go.
Since then I've done more thinking on this subject. I compared my life now to my life five years ago. I was a struggling self-employed writer in the middle of the economic downturn. I worked long hours and weekends and barely paid the bills. A shopping trip to the thrift store was a treat!
Side note: I am very fortunate that my "struggling" period was not nearly as bad as many people's. I feel the need to say this because I don't want to sound even more bratty than I already do by talking about how rough my life was when I always had food to eat, a place to sleep and people who loved me.
Now I have a house, a steady income, a lot of nice things and I've worked hard to save enough money for yoga teacher training. The me five years ago would have looked at the me now with envy. To the previous me, I am the girl in the A&F shirt.
This is a revelation for me.
I am the girl in the A&F shirt. I am the girl in the A&F shirt.
Why do I want for more?
When does what we have become enough?
When does the desire for material possessions and A&F shirts end?
I would like to think that I'm not materialistic. But this episode says otherwise.
Ugh, it's so human of me.
We all want for more. Though I didn't think so at the time, those girls in A&F shirts circa 2000 wanted more. My gorgeous co-workers want more. Adam and Eve wanted more. Gimme, gimme, gimme. More, more, more.
My perspective on my bratty behavior has shifted from "Life isn't fair!" to "This is my choice."
My sister helped me change my perspective on wanting more. She has a whole post about it here. The jist is that I could have many of those nice things, but I make different choices based on my values. I choose to save for yoga school and make aggressive student loan payments. I also choose to spend any "fun money" on new yoga gear and fun adventures instead of cute everyday clothes. All my choices.
Everything in my life is mostly a result of my choices. A little luck and a lot of support, but mostly my choices.
Unfortunately, my bratty incident the other morning won't be my last.
But I'm hoping that as I mature these incidents will occur less and less. Feeling bratty is gross. It's ugly and it doesn't lead to positive growth.
Here's to loving where we are and being happy with less. We would all be a lot better off with a little less bratty attitude and a lot more gratitude.