I was chatting with a colleague at work the other day about the pressure on her 14 year old daughter to not only fit in, but also to own what is currently considered ‘the best’.
Being a teenager has always been kind of tough. And I vaguely remember this kind of peer pressure from all those years ago.
However, I’m quite sure it is worse now in these days of social media influencers, international shipping and two week fashion cycles.
My colleague and I shared a laugh about how glad we were that we’d got off lightly in our teenage years and went about our days.
But, the conversation stuck with me for some reason. It kept popping back into my head at random times.
I felt like I had missed something. Something important.
And then finally it dawned on me.
Things like social media, fast fashion and internet shopping make it harder for everyone.
Because regardless of your age, it is not always easy to like what you like.
What is easy is telling yourself stories. You know, that story that everyone is more stylish than you. Or the story where you tell yourself that you have absolutely no idea when it comes to style.
When I think about my own journey, I know that it took me a relatively long time to be ok with my own style and taste. Without even being conscious of it, I would look at others close to me and wonder my life would be miraculously better if I wore the same styles and brands as others.
Of course, there were all sorts of issues with that kind of thinking.
Not everything looked good on my body shape. I couldn’t always afford particular brands. And if I’m being really honest about – even though I might have loved someone’s overall aesthetic – there were times when I didn’t actually like some of the individual pieces.
So, with all of this in mind, why is it so hard to like what you like?
Why Is It So Hard To Like What You Like?
One – You Believe Those Stories You Tell Yourself
Stories like the ones I mention above can be particularly damaging. Developing the ability to catch your stories becomes extremely important if you want to learn how to like what you like.
Once you have caught your stories, the next step is to understand if they are based in fact. If there is no evidence that your particular stories are true and you identify that they’re holding you back, it is time to replace those tales with something more confidence affirming.
When I work with my coaching clients around this issue, I find that considering their beliefs about diversity and variety can really help. It’s interesting how many of us seem to feel strongly about both these things in our broader lives, yet have difficulty in allowing our own ‘likes’ because they are different to the ‘likes’ of others.
Two – You Don’t Know What You Like
Yep – half of the problem is actually identifying what you like.
Learn to tune into the shapes and styling of pieces that attract you again and again. Do this even for the shortest period of time and I promise you will start to see patterns emerging.
A dig through my closet would quickly reveal several of my likes. There is a certain shade green-grey that I seem particularly partial to when it comes to jeans and pants. You’d also find quite a few slim-line watches whose dials closely resemble the first ‘real’ watch I bought myself when I was 18 years old.
It’s clear that I’m a fan of that green-grey colour and classic watches.
Looking at your own wardrobe, any Pinterest or vision boards you might have and considering which items you are immediately drawn to can help you to identify what it is you like.
Three – You Place High Value On Fitting In
We all want to fit in. This need is built into us as a survival mechanism, stemming from the days when banishment from the tribe lead to all sorts of nasty consequences.
However, in today’s world, the need to fit in can slow us down in so many ways. It may prevent us from speaking up and out. It can see us overly deferring to the opinions of others. And it may stop us from embracing the our style and the things we like because we feel like we will look out of step with others.
If this sounds like you, challenge yourself in small ways to walk to the beat of a different drum. Pop on something you simply love – but know everyone else will find questionable – and wear it with pride tomorrow. Wear your favourite flats when you know everyone else will be in heels. I promise the joy of wearing what you like is more likely to garner respect than rejection.
Have you given yourself permission to like what you like? Or is it a concept you are still working on? Either way, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.
4 thoughts on “It’s Ok To Like What You Like”
Someone I know who is a salesclerk in a perfume shop says women come in asking for the fragrance of a certain celebrity and buy it without even sniffing, let alone spraying some on to see whether it works with their personal chemistry. She thought it was logical–they aren’t buying perfume as much as buying allegiance to the style/lifestyle of the celebrity.
The ones who stand out for their style (and I include men as well as women) have an eye for shape and color. I can’t think of any normal people (leaving out celebrity influencers) who actually look good in head-to-toe designer this or that. Probably because if, like the perfume buyers, one is choosing the designer in lieu of personal taste, then the clothes won’t look natural, the person won’t look at ease in them. Fashion is about brands and trends; style is about flair and confidence.
The other excuse for choosing brands is quality. But that is no longer a guarantee. In fact, if a person wants true quality, the best options are vintage or DIY.
Oddly, I was an uncertain teen girl but style was always very important to me. In my older years, later 60’s, I have my own style. I know the colours and shapes that I like. I may not be young, thin or tall but I am not afraid to dress to my own taste. Linen. blue/grey, metallic bronze
espadrilles and grey pearl earrings are my standard pieces this summer. I’m off to Paris in September when I’ll probably add a couple scarves, a jacket and change to a different shoe.
In my teen years, my best friend and I would dress nearly alike and sort of created our own “tribe”. As a young adult raising two children, I just put on whatever I had that was clean and didn’t think about style much. Lately, I have really been giving thought to what I want to wear, to what expresses who I am and makes me feel great. I love the idea that it is o.k. to like what you like and “damn the torpedoes!” not just with clothing, but with all aspects of style like interior decorating, artwork and books.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Lori. I agree with you on the fact that ‘liking what you like’ extends way beyond style. And it is very liberating when you back your own taste rather than being concerned about what everyone else thinks.