Fancy on the Outside

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I’ve never had a ton of self-confidence.

No, that’s a lie.

I think perhaps I was pretty sure of myself as a young child. Bright, uninhibited, blissfully unaware of how the rest of the world perceived me.

Cue adolescence, and a flood of acute self-consciousness, especially with regards to my appearance.

I vacillated wildly between loving my new curves, which often garnered me much-desired attention, and feeling supremely dorky and unattractive.

Somehow, that feeling stuck around into young adulthood. I became more self-aware and realized that I often missed social cues about when I was being annoying, boring, or even offensive, so I often stayed quiet in unfamiliar social situations. I never felt like I hit fashion quite right. I didn’t care enough to be going with trends, but wasn’t so comfortable with what I liked as to make my own statement. When I did try, I always slightly missed the mark. My hair was always about 5 years behind. I always felt like that awkward teenager.

Then I moved to New York City, and that sentiment only increased. It’s not that I thought I was ugly, just…nothing special, really. And absolutely not at NYC-level. Hey, I figured, everyone gets cat-called.

So it came as quite a surprise to learn that others might see me differently.

A few months after moving to NYC, a friend from college invited me to a holiday party at his mom’s apartment. He and his girlfriend would be there, along with a couple other people I knew and a few I didn’t, including a couple of his buddies from the NYPD, where he had recently started working.

I was nervous, but excited about having something fun to do in the big city! I dressed up in a cute, form-fitting red dress, complete with heels. I did my make-up, straightened my shoulder-length hair, threw on some jewelry, and off I went. At the party, I said hello and then spent a good amount of time just sort of hanging around with my drink in my hand, feeling shy. I had never really been particularly close to the women I knew there, and everyone else seemed to be engaged in groups, dancing and having a great time. Once again, I saw myself as the awkward girl no one wanted to talk to.

Later that night, my friend came over to check in and chat. He was laughing about a conversation he’d had with his partner from the force. Somehow they’d mentioned me, and his partner commented, “Oh, yeah, I know the type: snobby Upper East Side b***h.” My friend told me how he’d started cracking up at how ridiculous that was, and then quickly corrected him, assuring him that I was actually one of the smartest and nicest people he knew. He looked directly at me when he said that, making sure I heard him.

I don’t remember exactly what my reaction was on the outside, but inside I was completely shocked. Here I was, dressed all fancy and thinking I still didn’t measure up, and other people were thinking I was looking down on them!

Although I still get self-conscious, and even now still very often feel like an awkward social outcast, I am now much more cognizant of what I project onto other people, and try not to make assumptions about the reasons behind people’s behavior. I’m also becoming much more adept at embracing myself, dorkiness and attractiveness, both!

The Author

I'm a quirky queer (she/her/hers) who is constantly questioning. I'm helping some young humans grow up, and trying not to do too much damage in the process. I am a fierce and fiercely feminist pastor. I'm doing my best at home-making, home-renovating, home-steading, and home-schooling. My rainbow life consists of red shoes, conversations around orange fires, yellow-legged chickens, going green, blue moods, indigo jeans, and periodically purple hair.

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