We all have a series of “uniforms” that we wear. As a child, I had three — one for school, one for scouts, and one for ballet. As I got older, my uniforms became less obvious.
A uniform is an attempt to reconcile form and content,
to match what you think you look like
with what you’d like to look like,
what you think you are
with what you want to suggest.
You find this match without really looking for it.
And once it’s found it’s permanent.
And eventually, it comes to define you.
• My “lucky” corporate outfit that I wore for big client presentations when I needed an extra boost of confidence
• The cozy oversized sweatshirts and t-shirts that I donned with either sweats or pajama bottoms with my hair piled high in a scrunchie when I needed to be extra creative
• And the black pants (always slenderizing, am I right?) that I paired with a bright red top and “Red Revival” lipstick when I needed to power up and channel my inner warrior spirit
And then there are the holidays…
Holiday uniforms are in a category by themselves. They often require accouterments that are unique to the day’s celebration. For example, being an experienced reveler in my family, I have learned over time that elastic-waisted pants are an essential feature for my Thanksgiving Day outfit. This is in direct opposition to several men (and a few women) in my family that have been known to openly declare after their bountiful feast that it is now time for the official unbuttoning of the pants and lowering of the zipper to half-mast. I believe this is meant as a compliment to the cooks. I prefer my solution.
You may want to heed this same advice when it comes to taking risks and stepping “outside” of your comfort zone. Don’t see it as stepping outside at all. That may feel like too big of an exposure to risk for you. Instead, visualize your comfort zone as being made of infinitely stretchy elastic that will never snap. It wants to stretch and grow and see how far it can go. This way, you never actually leave your comfort zone; you simply expand it. (Much like my waistline at Thanksgiving.)
Five simple little ways to S-T-R-E-T-C-H your comfort zone every day:
1. Try new routes to work or when running your daily errands. What new sights do you see? Make time to do some exploring and consider taking photos!
2. Visit a store you have never needed to go into before. What interesting things can you find inside? For example, give yourself permission to spend $10 at a dollar store or thrift store and see what treasures you can unearth.
3. Order something different from your favorite restaurant other than your “usual.” If you feel extra bold and are a regular customer, ask the chef to surprise you with something “off the menu.”
4. Mix things up and see how it feels. Start getting comfortable with change. Sleep in a different room in your home. Use the good dishes and stemware. Dress up more formally for dinner tonight.
5. Go play in your closet. Do not wear any of your “typical” outfits or “uniforms” for a week. Instead, play around with your existing wardrobe and mix and match pieces to make “new for you” outfit combinations. If you need help, invite a friend or family member over and make a day of it. Don’t forget to accessorize. (And if necessary, break out the Red Revival lipstick for an extra boost of confidence.)