Lessons from the Dressing Room

I went shopping on Thursday to buy some new summer tops.  I went to the store that I usually go to for such clothing, confident that I would be able to find clothes that fit and looked good on me.  I knew what colors to look for and knew that I would have to spend some time trying things on, as nothing ever looks quite the same on the hanger as it does on.  And yet, even prepared for a long afternoon in the dressing room, it was still painful.

Painful, because I had to take my own clothes off in order to try on the new ones, every moment naked a chance to catch a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirrors under fluorescent lights.

Painful, because clothes that I had taken from the racks hopeful would look good on me didn't--quite the reverse.

Painful, because I had to do this over and over and over again.

Until I found a line of tops in colors that looked so good on me, I didn't notice the clothes any more.

When I got home, I posted this status on Facebook: "On the up side, went shopping today for summer clothes and found shorts that fit and several nice tops. On the down side, to find said tops, had to spend several hours trying on tops that made me look old, washed out, and fat."

To which one of my friends replied: "This is exactly why I hate shopping for clothes."

"Funny," I thought, "she is quite beautiful.  Why should she hate shopping for clothes?"  But that is the first, most important lesson to learn from the dressing room: Nothing looks good on everyone.  If it doesn't look good on you, it is the fault of the clothes, not you.  Take it off and try on something else.

The second lesson is more important.  I answered my friend: "Exactly. The irony: to find something you feel and look good in, you have to subject yourself to looking dreadful over and over again!"

And realized I had inadvertently taught myself something.  It wasn't that what I had gone through that afternoon was all that unusual.  Indeed, everyone who looks good in her clothes must have had to go through trying on things that didn't look good, including my beautiful, always well-dressed friend.  I had always simply assumed that she had beautiful clothes because she was, well, beautiful.  But then I realized that if she found it painful, too, it wasn't that everything she tried on looked good.  It was that she had kept going in trying things on.  The lesson here?  If you want to look good--or play the fiddle well, or write well, or fill-in-the-blank well--you have to be willing to look/sound/feel dreadful over and over again.  Until you don't.


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