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Confidence is Key

In a world of ever-changing aesthetics and trends, going against the grain and wearing what you want can be challenging. Here’s how I learned to be confident in my personal style!

By Riya Mahtani

Photo By Miranda Ceron

When I was a sophomore in high school, I started at a new school where, for the first time, I didn’t have to wear a uniform — my first experience at a co-ed school without a dress code. I could wear whatever I wanted. 

On my first day on campus, I wore two-toned jeans and the coolest corduroy jacket I had thrifted that summer. As I looked around me, all I saw were girls wearing leggings and tank tops and guys in shorts and T-shirts. I felt like everyone was judging me, and I looked so out of place. 

I tried to remain confident and continue wearing what I thought was cool. However, I eventually began to conform to what other girls were wearing and what my guy friends seemed to like girls to wear. By junior year, I felt like I was wearing the same few outfits on rotation and had lost all sense of style I once had. 

Flash forward to senior year — I had just gotten out of a very toxic relationship. I was slowly rediscovering myself, my personality, and my style. I remembered my love of fashion and how happy it once made me to wear things that made me stand out. I realized that I hated wearing the same plain sweaters and tank tops every day, and I felt so boring all the time. Instead, I loved wearing colors and fun patterns. 

I had so many exciting clothes that had sat in the back of my closet for months, and I was finally ready to take them off the shelf. It took me a while to rediscover who I truly was and how that reflected in the clothes I wore. I began experimenting with styles, prints, and colors. I even picked up sewing and wore clothes I had made myself a couple of times. They definitely weren’t perfect, but I felt so proud to say I was wearing something that was uniquely mine. 

Although there were some days when I felt too out there and wanted to run home and change, I stuck it out and remembered that I was doing this for myself. There was no one else to please except me.

At this point in my life, I realize that I will always be a person who loves dressing up and being extravagant. I love wearing statement pieces and doing full glam makeup. I will never be underdressed, and I love wearing clothes that reflect my big personality. 

It took me a long time to come to terms with being looked at or even judged by others who have a different style or think I’m doing too much. Achieving confidence is a never-ending journey, and I still struggle with it at times. However, at the end of the day, the people who judge you are not the people you need in your life. Confidence is about you and you only. 

Only following trends and dressing for the male gaze is what made me the most unhappy. The second I realized that no one cared what I was wearing as much as I did was when I began dressing for myself again. 

If I feel comfortable and good about myself in my clothes, then that is all that matters. Other people’s validation is an additional boost of confidence, but ultimately, my happiness and comfort come first. 


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