One of the main things I wanted to do when I left home was to also leave behind a few of the materialistic, superficial things I tend to hide behind: my makeup and my clothes.
My Carrie Bradshaw closet (only in my own mind, of course) at home in Los Angeles–filled with all my thrift shop finds, online shopping steals and few, rare vintage pieces–was my pride and joy. I loved my collection of shoes, from high heels to sneakers. I loved my color coordinated coats and tops, my copious collection of menswear-inspired blazers and trousers. My stacks of denim, my prints and patterns. Everything in perfect order and displayed just so. I loved digging into it, dressing up whenever I could.
Now, I’ve never been about designer labels or expensive things. I don’t think I have ever really been sucked in to that degree. I was perfectly content and confident in my $5 Urban Outfitter sale rack find that was maybe trending a few years ago and now out of style. The thrill about it for me, and what it has always been, is finding things and making them my own; combining and mixing and matching. Expressing myself creatively through what I chose to wear on my body. And it’s fun to me, still is.
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
That was my main objective when I went to start packing for this trip. Only take what I need. What happened when I took out the part of my life that spent time thinking of and worrying about what to wear? How would it feel to not care for awhile, to wear things simply for the functionality of it, not for the aesthetic aspect?
I brought 2 tank tops, 2 t-shirts, 2 long sleeve tees, all in plain, solid colors. I brought two pairs of cotton shorts to escape the heat in Bali, and 3 pairs of leggings for Nepal. I packed one pair of thick jeans should I decide to go trekking. Simple cotton bras, nothing in attempts to boost or flatter.
How has this changed my mindset, or my day to day?
I have more time in the day to dedicate to new things. I spend less time wondering what I should wear, and more time going about my day. Along with that, there were no mirrors in our hostel, and it was a nice feeling to not really care about how I looked walking out the door.
Don’t get me wrong, though. The expression of individuality via fashion is something I was and am truly passionate about – by no means am I discounting it. What we wear is an outer display of bits of our personalities; what we like, what we feel is important. It reflects where we came from, where we live. Sometimes it is a display of our culture, of deep rooted traditions and beliefs. It is a statement. It is personal. It is beautiful.
But I believe in everything in moderation, and to not lose sight of the things that truly matter. We should be certain that it makes us happy because we get to express ourselves, not because we are trying to fit in with anyone else’s ideals, expectations or standards. We should do it because it is a source of creative freedom, and not allow it to enslave us, make us dependent on these material items.
I think I knew that I was finding too much bliss in shopping and obtaining new pieces to add to my wardrobe. It was becoming a materialistic thing. I wanted more money to buy more.
I knew I could use a break.
The disconnection has actually given me a greater appreciation for what fashion truly is and the real reasons I love it so much. And as I muted my own personal style for a bit, the fashion around me—inspired by the cultures and lifestyles of the countries and regions I have visited—have been spotlighted, and my perspectives are growing, and I’m becoming more and more inspired. It is nice to clear the slate, nice to be content with a blank canvas for a bit as I gather the inspiration and colors to fill my new palette.
I have had acne on and off since I was about 15. In the past year, it had gotten really bad. And it was a total reflection of how I was living and treating my body.
I didn’t have time or money to eat well—I ate way too much fast food. I didn’t have time to work out. I worked too much, stressed too much. And all this at the end of the day was just making me unhappy, and I didn’t even realize it. Though it clearly showed on my face in the form of adult acne.
It was a given that without makeup to cover it up, I didn’t feel good about myself. I got comfortable with my female coworkers, enough to not wear makeup to work in attempts to let my skin breathe. But if I was going out with friends or wanted to feel confident in how I presented myself, I needed it. I needed my makeup. I carried it in my purse, everywhere I went. It was a big deal to leave it behind.
And so many times during my trip, when we would all go out to a restaurant or bar, I would see all the girls wearing lipstick and dresses and I missed my old security blankets. I wanted my makeup, my red lipstick. I wanted my arsenal of clothes from my Carrie Bradshaw closet. I wanted these things to feel good about myself again.
But most of the time, I realized that I could feel amazing and happy without them.
I figured out that my old way of living was not what I wanted to return to. I don’t want to sit at a desk all day for a living, I don’t want to be miserable and stressed.
I started yoga. I started meditating. I figured out what makes me happy, and how I want to continue living my life in that direction.
And before I knew it, I found myself happier than I have ever been in my own skin. Literally. My skin cleared up.
Today, my yoga instructor shared with me a common saying in India: Whatever you see in your mind, shows in your face.
There are still remnants of blemishes, and definite scarring that could use healing. But for the most part, this newfound clarity feels amazing.