Today is National Shero Day! A day to celebrate dynamic women that inspire us and drive us to be better. And the Shero I want to talk about is not a woman yet, but she is an inspiration. She is 6 year old Mayhem from the amazing Instagram and blog Fashion by Mayhem. If you haven’t discovered the amazingness of Mayhem’s daily fashion creations, please check her out right now.
I’ve been following Mayhem for a while and I continue to be amazed by her personality and ability to stay herself. She is gaining more and more press and attention and it hasn’t changed her. I hope this continues. But it made me think of myself when I was a kid. And how growing up did change me.
When I was younger, I always used to try crazy style ideas that I’d come up with in my head. (Who would ever have thought me capable of such a thing?) Skirts over pants, multiple bindis on my forehead, fingerless glove sleeves. I even made my own homecoming gown in the 10th grade. Basically, if I had fun with it and liked what I saw when I left the house… I’d wear it.
This gave me a reputation for being a weird kid. I would often be made fun of and not just by the mean bullies, but by close friends and sometimes family too. I don’t think they meant to be mean. They were just commenting on the vast difference between me and (seemingly) everyone else. They just didn’t get me. Didn’t get my style and as we see everyday, humans tend to persecute what they don’t understand.
So, somewhere along the way, right around Junior/ Senior years of high school, I started to do what the other kids were doing. I started to lose that confidence and style that was once so uniquely me. I took to wearing t-shirts and baggy jeans, because if no one notices you, then no one will be mean to you. And I let myself fade into the background. I quit the high school marching band and got low grades and just phoned it all in.
There’s a funny story I like to tell about taking my Senior school pictures. Right before I went into the room, someone told me I had the biggest smile. So big that they could see my gums. And I thought “well, that’s a horrifying thought.” When I walked into the photographer’s room, instead of flashing my big, bright, beautiful smile with the confidence of my younger self, my smile ended up looking like what I can only describe as the pinched smile of a person with zero self esteem. Basically I looked like I had been drugged! I let someone else’s comment on my appearance change one of my favorite features. I love my smile, but in a split second I made the choice to hide it because of someone’s words.
I know what you’re thinking… how can style effect someone so much. It’s not the clothes that mattered in this situation because there was a lot more going on under the surface. More than a drastic change in fashion sense. There’s usually more than what you see or what you think going on in any given situation.
For a kid who proudly wore her Wonder Woman pj’s as everyday clothes, this switch in style was an important red flag.
It took many years for me to feel comfortable in my own skin again. And to eschew the opinion of others, mean or otherwise, in deference to not only my own opinion of myself, but God’s opinion of me.
I talk a lot about those awkward years of missteps and self discovery, because I was a hot mess (minus the hot.) I knew who I was, then forgot who I was, then tried to find who I was in the eyes of everyone else around me. This is universal stuff here. So I like to talk about it because, for the most part, I’m through it. I’m on the other side, gently patting my younger self on the head and saying, “Oh, little one. If only you knew what I know now. How much easier your journey would be.” And once again, I think this is not something that just little ole me has been through. And if someone out there reading this says, “Hey, I feel that way too” well, that’s why I share! Sharing opens the door on things that we are ashamed of. Our past, our shame, our embarrassment. By talking about these things, we take away the power they have over us.
Yeah, I was an awkward, weird kid. But I grew up. Though I’m still pretty quirky and weird. And people still think that remarking on my differences is somehow a nice thing. But if we hold onto these things then we never overcome them! So rise up. Rage against the machine. Don’t let the past win over your future. Cause God has better things planned for you!! And Mayhem wouldn’t like it!