"You is kind.
You is smart.
You is important."
--Kathryn Stockett, The Help
Somewhere between 29 and 30, I grew pretty. I don't think my appearance changed at all, although I did drop some a few pounds last year through running. I had already stopped coloring my hair blond. I had the same simple haircut (No, stylist, I know you think layers are cute, but I don't like them). I was still me. The only thing that changed was my acceptance of me.
I stopped hating my appearance. I still don't have a love affair with the mirror, but I've accepted it. I'm comfortable enough in my body to play up the good parts and downplay the bad parts. Somewhere between 29 and 30, I found my style.
In the winter of my 30th year, I opened my closet door and frowned. Nothing in my wardrobe reflected my style. I opened drawers full of Old Navy fleeces and Abercrombie & Fitch sweaters dating back to high school—clothes I wouldn't even wear around the apartment if I were alone. They weren't me anymore. I was a girl with a closest full of clothes and nothing to wear.
I unstuffed my closet, spilling old sweaters into bags to donate. Then I hopped online and spent money I didn't have to update my wardrobe. I didn't do a piece at a time; I did it all at once until boxes on top of boxes appeared on my doorstep. I ordered by instinct: rapidly scrolling through photos and adding to cart anytime I saw something that stirred me.
It's gotten easier to listen to my gut. I know. Deep down, I know. I know ahead of time whether a decision was a smart one. To get to this point has been nothing short of an accomplishment. After S, that was the part of me left destroyed. It took a year of working with a therapist to learn to trust my gut again. It's taken many more to learn exactly what that feeling is and how to respond to it.
The result was amazing. I was thrilled with every item that arrived. Leather boots that strangers stop to compliment me on. Dresses that girls in bars fingered and asked in hushed tones where I got them. One acquaintance at a party even asked if she could go shopping with me because she admired me so much.
Listening to your gut doesn’t have to manifest in significant ways. It’s not always about life and death. It really could be as simple as which dress looks more flattering. It’s about doing what’s best for you. All it takes is a little trust. In yourself.