Hey friends! Time for a little heart-to-heart. I’ve gotten a lot of comments from people I’ve connected with through social media that think I’m so outgoing and confident based on what I post online. It might come as a surprise to a lot of you, though, that I’m really not that bold or secure of a person in real life.
A Bold End to a Shy Beginning
I grew up a painfully (and I do mean painfully) shy kid. I wouldn’t talk to other people, especially adults, and I let me mom do the talking for me in most social situations until I went off to college. (I remember the first time I went to a restaurant and ordered for myself; pretty scary stuff!) I kind of gained a reputation as a soft-spoken pushover who would do all the work in group projects or let people copy my homework if asked because I couldn’t say no. It always frustrated me; I wanted to stick up for myself, but I just wouldn’t do it.
Well, despite my shyness and social anxiety, the one place I was truly confident was onstage. I took dance as a small child and ended up being on the Varsity dance team in high school; there was just something I felt when I was onstage. Was it invincibility? Expression of who I really was? Confidence? I don’t think I fully knew at the time, but parading around in sequins and gobs of makeup just made sense at the time. I felt like I could be this persona I had always envisioned for myself: sassy, confident, and worthy of people’s attention.
What I didn’t foresee at the time, though, was how dance and the way I felt onstage would become my inspiration for another expression of my ideal persona: Musa Della Moda (aka this blog).
Now I will be 100% honest, I am completely authentic on all my social media channels. I don’t make stuff up or wear things I don’t totally love and feel good in. But here, as I’ve discovered, is the place for me to break free of the shy reputation that’s preceded me for most of my life, and live authentically in a way that allows me to open up, grow, and express my true self without the pressures of “real life”. In a lot of ways, I am still inhibited by self-doubt, people-pleasing, and lack of total fool-proof confidence, but I feel more like myself now than I ever have.
It Ain’t Easy, But It’s Worth It…
I do admit too that self-expression through content creation isn’t all rainbows and sunshine either. I hate doing photoshoots in public places for fear of being heckled or ending up on one of those “influencer in the wild” sites, and there have been a few (thankfully not a lot) less-than-amiable experiences with Internet trolls and bullies. And those instances do hurt. They do cloud my idea of self-worth and increase self-judgement, but it also helps me learn that when you put yourself out there, you do invite criticism. But you also have the potential for praise, and have to look at the kind of people the criticism comes from.
Through the ups and the downs, you will find your niche: the people who support you and love you the way you are. And you just gotta keep on doing you.
Wear What You Love on Purpose
It’s taken me a long time to really define what my style is, and I don’t really know if personal style can (or should) be defined in the first place. I can’t really sum it up in a word (like preppy, or boho), but I do know what inspires me, and I go from there.
My inspiration as a whole consists of everything from vintage styles to mod, bold colors to unexpected details, and old-hollywood glamour with an edge. I love Freddie Mercury’s outlandish looks, Dynasty-inspired 80s extra-ness, and the daisy motifs of the 1960s. I also love the elegant, sometimes-colorful minimalism of Scandinavian fashion, and rhinestone cowboy-style Americana. I’m inspired by old movies, magazines, and costumes I loved as a dancer. It’s all over the place, but somehow just makes sense to me.
Now I know you might be wondering what my point is in all of these general musings about my childhood and style, but what I’m getting at is this: You can’t keep living your life in someone else’s story. Find what sets your heart on fire, and channel that energy into the way you express yourself through clothes. If you do that, you’ll always have a piece of what you makes you you right there in (or on) your pocket. To me, clothes are feelings, memories, and a love language of their own. They’re about communicating what you want to say, not what other people want to hear. Whether it’s wacky and fun or sleek and minimal, your style shouldn’t be talking about anyone else but you.
So, here’s to the inspiration and beauty behind the madness. Here’s to being us.