Style Part I

Never impersonate anyone but yourself.

There are times when we all need distance from those around us and we have to step back internally and “go through the motions” outwardly. In those cases you have to use your public face or “persona”. It’s not that you’re not being yourself but rather that you’re simply just not letting others see into the depths of your soul. There’s nothing to hide but it’s simply that you need space to think. At least, that’s true for me.

Of course, we all have sins though.

My sin is more often coldness than anything else. Ironically, I’ve been told I was very “intense” or “mature” since I was a child and that’s true to a point, I suppose, but I think more accurately that we all have depth and intensity. What I really struggle with is coldness.

I am a mostly honest person and I tend to offend people who are dishonest in some way (out of their own pride, insecurities, disorders or mental illnesses, etc.) or who I don’t automatically like. Sometimes the dishonest try to turn their lies around on me and make me guilty of their sins by public displays, or they just shift it around in the confines of their own minds OR they do both. Other times the dishonest offended employ different maneuvers. But generally, regardless, I tend to be in a position of sitting and watching them fall into their own traps.

For those I don’t like I am often accidentally patronizing in a foolish but genuine attempt to be kind, which is dishonest none-the-less and can be hurtful, of course, if they sense it. And then I find myself in my own muck.

It’s particularly bad when all or more than one of those things take place.

…What I regret most in the last five or more years are all the times I’ve not recognized this particular sort of coldness in myself. I’ve likely made lots of people upset, caused them stress or pained them by not seeing myself properly. And what I mean by that is that I when I see the genuine flaws, crooked edges, incorrect answers or true evil in others or a situation I need to stop myself from cutting too sharply into it. Or I need to restrain myself from being openly involved.

It’s one thing to “make a stand” in a positive way, but I’m talking more about my…coldness. Again, it’s not that I lack concern, love or empathy for others either but more that I just…”see the Devil in people” as someone once told me.

The lady who told me that certainly was an extremely bright and world-worn soul. She was a black woman from the Deep South, a crack addict (everyone thought she was clean at the time I knew her even though she secretly wasn’t), and she’d been abused her whole life. I met her in a Christian women’s group at a church I once attended.

This lady often was very charming and most people thought she was a flamboyant, Oprah-type who was always self-improving and extremely cheerful. I cared about her as a person but I’m sure she knew that I wasn’t “buying” her act.

Once, she sat me down when nobody else was around and said, “You see the Devil in people. So do I.” And it actually was one of the most shocking moments of my life because I had never met anyone who had just come right out and told me that about myself, much less realized it about me or labeled it in the first place. “Yeah, I know.” she continued with a frighteningly aware and empathetic smile after I must have given her an amazed response. “I bet no one else has ever told you that before.” she continued. She was right…

But that ability to see things as they are can cause coldness. One has the ability to truly help people but one also can grow to feel…cold. Then, I suppose, one can start to make choices that are callous towards one’s self if one is a compassionate person. Or if one isn’t careful it’s too easy to cut people deeply without meaning to and if the intent is to be mean (out of anger) it’s almost guaranteed that it’ll do more to hurt someone than intended.

So, what does that mean in terms of style? Well, for one, I need to stop patronizing others about what I like that they don’t think I should. I’m very accustomed to trying to fit in and dress more casually or “youthful” than I really want to. And I’ve been trying to rid myself of that tendency or something like it for years at this point, although I did say that at 35 I felt I had an excuse to finally be authentic, but I have yet to go through with it entirely. But…I need to just look as offensive or scary (to some) as I actually am?

Recently (last few years) I’ve started to wear more designer stuff like Louis Vuitton or Gucci, but it’s not really about that necessarily. It’s more about a certain aesthetic.

My father once angrily called me, “Little Miss Vasser” when he thought I was being too liberal and “Pollyanna” in high school. That was when I was 14 and doing fairly well still in my honors and A.P. classes (getting an A). But I was sensitive and took his words to heart (they crushed me) and tried to please him more after that with my choices. He said I should focus less on getting the top grades and more on God and my spirituality. …Due to my thyroid failing and depression my grades were already slightly in peril but, of course, his words didn’t help encourage me to push myself. So I let myself go in some ways and I went to a Christian private college (Messiah College) that was excellent (one of the very top schools nationally of its sort) but it was not Vasser, my dream school. I also went to his alma mater for a year before transferring to the private college. And…the outcome was neither good nor bad, I suppose. I didn’t live my dream but I also learned a lot about things and people I otherwise never would have. I believe God is always fair and above all human errors, evils and foolishness and that He tries to respect genuine goodness, if we have it, eventually in some just way…

Regardless, I am that creature my father ripped into that afternoon, after school, in the living room. And again, I am the person behind the persona that so many people hated online over the last few years. Of course, it was my online persona but it was a reflection of parts of reality and it was still…ugly…to be attacked. Just as hurtful as when my father took that part of my self that was “successful” as an adolescent and used it to make me feel evil or not “Christian enough”. Yes, it was the opposite of what most parents do, but he wasn’t a typical parent and he didn’t value “success” the way some parents do. Neither of my parents have or likely ever will. They both wanted to be missionaries or artists and…they had very different values than most people. Of course, there’s real kindness that’s necessary no matter what you think about society that I didn’t always receive from my father (he thankfully might apologize for that now), but…either way, I have to be brave. I have to embrace my inner “Little Miss Vasser” whether it’s what my father would have thought wise or not while being aware of what’s “flattering on me” from good, healthy, and honest outside sources. My parents (the ones who raised me) might have been too hip or passionate or “woke” (before it was a thing) to be so…”waspy”…but I have to be brave and let go of the rejection I might receive for being truly honest with my style. And, as in the case of Orangers En Fleurs it might even be what people would enjoy… At the very least, it’ll warn them before I (truly) accidentally cut them with my cold truths. Ha!

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