When I was in college, my closest friends and family would constantly tease me for being full of contradictions.
I’m staunchly independent, but I hate being alone. I’m snobby about Literature and the Arts, but I read “Us Weekly” with severe devotion. I don’t drink tap water (I was once called the “Brita Brat”) and prefer my chocolate to be 70% dark; contain only three ingredients; and be single origin. But my guilty pleasure is deep fried mozzarella sticks dipped in pizza sauce. I like to listen to Mozart’s Requiem on Sundays but will paint my apartment while dancing to Justin Timberlake. I’m a Sheryl Sandberg “Lean In” kinda gal who loves southern chivalry (*ehem* that’s why I married a southern gentleman).
I think it’s normal for most people in our lives to want us to be coherent, predictable: If you’re a snob, be a snob! If you’re independent, don’t get clingy (sorry, Justin!). How can you be a Post-Feminist Feminist and totally, 100%, love chivalry?! (That’s probably what I got teased about the most in college: reading Mary Wollstonecraft one minute and then the next minute, waiting at the door for my brother Jem to open it for me.)
But when others want us to dull the edges of our contradictions and be more predictable, it’s actually about them, not you. Instead, embrace those contradictions! Be that crazy foodie who sneaks out of Trader Joe’s with a bag of breaded mozzarella sticks! The trick, I’ve learned, is to take the teasing and own it! And so I’ll leave you, dear readers, with this parting quote from Danielle LePorte’s Style Statement (a fabulous book on identifying and curating your personal style):
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“Self-expression is not an either-or formula.
It is, in Carl Jung’s words, “magnificently
affirmative of both-and.” You can be traditional
and avant-garde, opportunistic and socially
responsible, serene and flamboyant. It’s all
good if it’s all real. It is infinitely
better to be fully yourself with myriad
contradictions than to be an indirect,
inauthentic version of yourself. Identities
are crackled, colorful kaleidoscopes. And
it’s the whole package of talents and flaws
and preferences that make us infinitely more
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And so we ladies must be “ruthlessly committed” to being who we really are. Even if eyebrows get raised or foreheads scratched. What’s important is to be “loyally, royally you.”
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