Easter is here and with it a time for renewal. I find myself reinventing myself each time I grow bored with my current incarnation. As the saying goes, “Life isn’t about finding yourself but for inventing yourself.”
One of my cousins-in-law used to accuse me of being a chameleon because I would act differently when I was with stodgy in-laws or with friends or with young hipsters. I wanted to fit in and not antagonize others. In Charlotte I had to figure out how to get along with students, their parents, and upwardly-mobile young people. It was confusing Up here in Black Mt., my sister says, “You finally found a place where you blend.” I blend because I am in a place of stripped down need to please.
A good part of my reinventions of myself came as I wrangled with who I was versus who others expected me to be. Gradually I stopped caring about the opinions of others and just let myself be who I am. But who I am has evolved as I have aged and stripped away unnecessary layers.
I credit my years of spending much of my time with teenagers with my ability to look at myself honestly. Being a teacher meant leading a classroom of young people who examined and judged everything about me daily. And let me know their opinions. My most outspoken critics were the boys in the juvie facility. They did not approve of my footwear because I wore clunky clogs that didn’t fit right and looked like boats. “Why do you wear shoes that are too big?” they would ask. They approved when I wore my pink Chuck Taylors telling me I was “Crushing them Chucks!” They checked out my clothes and jewelry every day and let me know what they thought.
I used to leaf through fashion magazines to learn what was “in” and what was definitely last year. Now my fashion sense is guided by what makes me feel happy and comfortable. I love color and enjoy layering it on, having fun with pattern and texture. I like blending funky harem pants with antique vests, and leggings with billowy, over-sized tops. The other day Jerry Pope came into the shop, looked at my leggings and cropped sweater, and asked, “Did you forget to put on a skirt? Pretty risqué!”
Do other people reinvent themselves and rehab their way of being in the world? Let me know what you think.