I was chatting with a colleague at work the other day about the pressure on her 14 year old daughter to not only fit in, but also to own what is currently considered ‘the best’.
Being a teenager has always been kind of tough. And I vaguely remember this kind of peer pressure from all those years ago.
However, I’m quite sure it is worse now in these days of social media influencers, international shipping and two week fashion cycles.
My colleague and I shared a laugh about how glad we were that we’d got off lightly in our teenage years and went about our days.
But, the conversation stuck with me for some reason. It kept popping back into my head at random times.
I felt like I had missed something. Something important.
And then finally it dawned on me.
Things like social media, fast fashion and internet shopping make it harder for everyone.
Because regardless of your age, it is not always easy to like what you like.
What is easy is telling yourself stories. You know, that story that everyone is more stylish than you. Or the story where you tell yourself that you have absolutely no idea when it comes to style.
When I think about my own journey, I know that it took me a relatively long time to be ok with my own style and taste. Without even being conscious of it, I would look at others close to me and wonder my life would be miraculously better if I wore the same styles and brands as others.
Of course, there were all sorts of issues with that kind of thinking.
Not everything looked good on my body shape. I couldn’t always afford particular brands. And if I’m being really honest about – even though I might have loved someone’s overall aesthetic – there were times when I didn’t actually like some of the individual pieces.
So, with all of this in mind, why is it so hard to like what you like?
Why Is It So Hard To Like What You Like?
One – You Believe Those Stories You Tell Yourself
Stories like the ones I mention above can be particularly damaging. Developing the ability to catch your stories becomes extremely important if you want to learn how to like what you like.
Once you have caught your stories, the next step is to understand if they are based in fact. If there is no evidence that your particular stories are true and you identify that they’re holding you back, it is time to replace those tales with something more confidence affirming.
When I work with my coaching clients around this issue, I find that considering their beliefs about diversity and variety can really help. It’s interesting how many of us seem to feel strongly about both these things in our broader lives, yet have difficulty in allowing our own ‘likes’ because they are different to the ‘likes’ of others.
Two – You Don’t Know What You Like
Yep – half of the problem is actually identifying what you like.
Learn to tune into the shapes and styling of pieces that attract you again and again. Do this even for the shortest period of time and I promise you will start to see patterns emerging.
A dig through my closet would quickly reveal several of my likes. There is a certain shade green-grey that I seem particularly partial to when it comes to jeans and pants. You’d also find quite a few slim-line watches whose dials closely resemble the first ‘real’ watch I bought myself when I was 18 years old.
It’s clear that I’m a fan of that green-grey colour and classic watches.
Looking at your own wardrobe, any Pinterest or vision boards you might have and considering which items you are immediately drawn to can help you to identify what it is you like.
Three – You Place High Value On Fitting In
We all want to fit in. This need is built into us as a survival mechanism, stemming from the days when banishment from the tribe lead to all sorts of nasty consequences.
However, in today’s world, the need to fit in can slow us down in so many ways. It may prevent us from speaking up and out. It can see us overly deferring to the opinions of others. And it may stop us from embracing the our style and the things we like because we feel like we will look out of step with others.
If this sounds like you, challenge yourself in small ways to walk to the beat of a different drum. Pop on something you simply love – but know everyone else will find questionable – and wear it with pride tomorrow. Wear your favourite flats when you know everyone else will be in heels. I promise the joy of wearing what you like is more likely to garner respect than rejection.
Have you given yourself permission to like what you like? Or is it a concept you are still working on? Either way, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.