Every morning, I go through the same cycle: I slip out of my sheets, walk to the bathroom, splash some cold water on my face, and brush my teeth. I sigh and roll my eyes; it’s a Monday morning, and I’m exhausted. I sigh again because now it’s time to head downstairs and face the morning. But before I pick up my bag, grab a quick breakfast, and leave my house, I must choose an outfit for the day.
I believe the singular reason I am continuously late for school each morning is due to my utter ineptitude at picking out an outfit. My family tries to leave the house promptly at 7:15 a.m., but it easily slips into 7:25 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. by the time I am finished. I have even tried to avoid this perpetual issue by choosing my outfit the night before, but by the time I wake up, my mind has completely altered, and my outfit from only eight hours before is no longer satisfactory. It has somehow become the most trivial and tedious yet most important part of my morning. Too often, I’ll sacrifice my breakfast or playing with my puppy for the perfect outfit, having to try on numerous variations before I settle on one.
My gaze slips down to the pile of clothes I have amassed during the outfit-picking journey that now inelegantly lie on the floor. I pick some new clothes then peek up at my reflection. I shuffle around awkwardly, determining whether I like the outfit or not. I keep trying to find the perfect outfit, repositioning my body as I stand in front of the mirror. The angle does nothing, and the mirror continues to tantalize me, so back to the drawing board I go. No, no, certainly not this one— back to the drawing board. I try again and again. I’m a perfectionist, so it’s hard when I inevitably settle for mediocrity.
Once I get to school, I’m surrounded by all my friends in their cute clothing. My favorite compliment to give is “I love your outfit today.” It’s just five words, but since I put so much effort into picking something out, I can only assume I’m not alone in this problem. It makes them smile, and since most of them are humble, they’ll say something along the lines of, “Oh, this old thing? I threw it on without blinking.” And while that response is perfectly adequate, adorable, and modest, it feeds into this idea that students must look perfect, effortlessly.
And while on this topic of perfectionism, it’s so hard to feel the need to always be your best with frivolous things, like picking out your outfit each morning, when there are way too many more important things going on in our lives. BB&N students are constantly dealing with extracurriculars, academics, and internships, so I ask myself the question: Is it worth it to get the extra 15 minutes of sleep that I need, or should I wake up exhausted and use precious mental stamina to try to find a cute outfit? Is it even a choice? Well, somehow, I guess it is because I still end up waking up 15 minutes earlier. Despite that, I still leave late and usually in disappointment because I ended up choosing jeans and a hoodie.
A blog article I recently read defined perfectionism as destroying yourself to please others. At first, this definition seemed to be a tad dramatic. I realized, though, this is the definition I’ve been searching for to describe my daily battle. My perfectionism bleeds into my academic life, but I try, through the help of the people around me, to keep it in control. Being a perfectionist can make one feel as though they are never good enough, and if those feelings are present in one aspect of their life–even in something as simple as picking out an outfit–they often have impossibly high standards in other aspects of their life, too.
We try to make ourselves look better so we can feel better about ourselves. The irony, however, is that by doing so, we often hurt ourselves more by trying so hard to please everyone around us. So, I implore you, don’t waste your time with these superficial things, and focus on being the version of yourself that you want to be. It’s cliche and so much easier said than done, but at the end of the day not only will you be happier, but you will set a new norm—hopefully one that helps the people around you. So next morning, I’ll get that extra 15 minutes of sleep, and I will try to be happy with whatever outfit I end up wearing, even if it’s jeans and a hoodie.