The very first CD I ever owned was Amy Grant’s ‘Heart in Motion’. A birthday gift from my parents, the album accompanied a super fancy stereo that played both records and CDs that my mom had picked up at a garage sale. The second CD to enter my collection was Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Very Necessary’ – a birthday gift from a much cooler friend with older siblings. While I appreciated what Salt, Pepa, and DJ Spinderella had to offer (their duet Whatta Man with En Vogue is still a banger), I could often be found in a crushed velvet baby doll dress singing Baby, Baby and Good For Me into my hairbrush*.
Amy Grant spoke to my nine-year-old soul who desperately wanted my fourth-grade crush to just acknowledge my existence. I wanted to wear a black wide-brimmed hat and a white t-shirt with rolled sleeves. I wanted curly hair (my mom permed my bangs – MY BANGS!). And I became convinced that an oversized blazer would solve all of my young adolescent problems. When thinking of that very first CD I called my own, I recently had the revelation that ‘Heart in Motion’ may have been the very catalyst of this decades-long journey of figuring out who I am. Or at least who I am meant to be.
If I had to identify a common thread throughout my teenage years and my twenties it’d be that I always felt like I was a bit of an imposter. Like most teenagers, I tried on various personas in attempt to discover which one was the most like me. During those high school years, I discovered that I much preferred my clothes to have a sporty vibe, that I was dreadful at makeup application, and that carrying a purse was for the birds. And then I went to college in another state, where I felt like a stranger in a strange land surrounded by tanned girls who showed up to an 8:00 am class in full make-up while carrying Vera Bradley totes instead of backpacks. I remember thinking to myself, “Is this what it means to be an adult?”
My four years on campus gave me insight on a few things about how I want the world to perceive me but I didn’t necessarily graduate with any clearer idea about who I am. And now, like many women in their mid-thirties, I am starting to observe the world around me with a clearer filter than I did in my teens and twenties. Experiences have softened some edges and made others more jagged. I no longer feel invincible nor that I have my whole life ahead of me. I may not have a sense of dread that time is running out but I am definitely more aware of the falling grains of sand than I’ve ever been before. And I am starting to really enjoy the music playing in the grocery store so there’s that.
But there are days when I still feel like an imposter. I’ve wondered if it is because I sometimes still feel like I am playing dress-up. I am searching for clothes and accessories that will make me feel the most like me – without necessarily knowing exactly who I am. Don’t get me wrong – I have an understanding of my morals, my standards, and I am becoming more confident with my likes and dislikes. I am not lost. But I am still waiting on the day that I’ll feel 100% comfortable in my skin and not want to crawl out of it on a weekly basis. That’ll happen, right?
I listen to Good For Me on occasion – it’s my favorite Amy Grant song. While it took my 20 years to come to realization that I hate carrying a purse (seriously – it’s the pits), I am still figuring out exactly what clothes best suit me. I don’t know what exactly I want to be when I grow up and I continue to waffle back and forth on whether I like raw oysters or not. I prefer wheat beers over IPAs and New York pizza trumps Chicago-style any day of the week. Earlier this month, I wrote about how it is okay to not be okay sometimes. The past couple of weeks have provided me with a sense of clarity that I haven’t felt in a few years. As I become more confident about who I am and how I perceive the world around me, I can only hope that the days when I feel like an imposter will be fewer and fewer. So far, so good.
* I wrote part of this post in a coffee shop and listened to Amy Grant while typing the first paragraph. I briefly forgot where I was (i.e. not home) and belted out “When I start to sing the blues, you pull out my dancing shoes. Oh baby – you could be so good for me!” If you’ve ever heard me sing – you understand why I was mortified.