Growing up, I only knew how to follow fashion trends, not create my own. Ever since I started using social media platforms like Tumblr and Instagram in middle school, I noticed that people who stayed on top of trends received way more likes and comments on their posts. And I wanted that sense of validation for myself too.
So I started to dress like people I saw on social media. I started copy-pasting the same outfit over and over again — high-waisted jeans and a crop top. Thrifting clothes from popular brands like Urban Outfitters and Brandy Melville became less about the actual clothes, and more about their ability to make me blend in.
Having a trendy sense of style meant I didn’t have to worry about making mistakes with my appearance. So I grew to depend on the sense of conformity I felt from dressing like the people around me.
But as I got older, I realized my impulse to appear “normal” prevented me from exploring my identity. I didn't know what clothes and makeup felt good because I was so focused on how others perceived me. I gave so much power to others, even though the only opinion that mattered was my own.
When I went to college, I stopped using social media as frequently. That’s when I started experimenting with different outfits. And I made lots of fashion decisions that I would never repeat. But even though I might not love some of those looks, I have no regrets. Because after only a year of exploring other options, I already felt exponentially closer to my sense of self.
Now I’m learning what clothes make me feel confident and not to depend on other people’s expectations. When I minimized social media’s influence on my life, I realized what I felt good wearing. And as small as fashion may seem, it was liberating to finally be myself.