I bought this new blue dress yesterday (at Anthropologie, if you're wondering, and there's some cute designs at the bottom you can't see in this photo), something I very rarely do these days; I can't actually recall the last time I did.
I got it partly because I didn't feel like I had anything exactly right for Friday night, when I'm part of the keynote opening panel at CatalystCon, and partly because I wanted to treat myself. The current me, not some future me, to celebrate my recent successes and, to honor my current body. I don't weigh myself so I don't know the exact numbers, but I can see in my face and other body parts that I've gained weight since moving to New Jersey. Many of my clothes still fit, because based on the way I tend to dress, I am not wearing too much that's super tight. But still, it can be frustrating when I go to put something on and it either doesn't fit at all, or hangs differently than I remember.
As for buying myself a present, that too felt like a way of saying: you're working hard, you deserve to look your best. I sometimes think if I'm not stressed all the time or plotting my next pitches/books/essays in my head every moment of the day, or getting up crazy early to work, then I'm not being a "good enough" freelancer. Of course that's ridiculous, but I have my moments of ridiculousness. Body image is an ongoing problem/process for me. I wrote about it in 2010 in "Loving My Body—Kinda, Sorta ,Sometimes" and I'm sure I will again.
Wearing something that made me feel at the top of my game lets me take the ups and downs of life in stride. I had a small but great group at Sugar in Baltimore for my writing workshop last night. Would I have preferred more people? Yes, but there was nothing I could do that late in the game. I also know one of my CatalystCon writing workshops is almost sold out and I'm planning the next steps for more online teaching. I want to be able to handle the moments when things don't go my way, and yes, it helps to be wearing something I adore and that feels soft and cozy inside.
It also meant that because I felt great, when I got to Blue Pit BBQ, which my friend co-owns and which was truly delicious, I could fully enjoy my pulled pork, brisket, mac and cheese and collard greens. It turned out that even though I thought I was ravenous, I ate about half of what was given to me (though I ate all my pickles) and took the rest home. Since I'm a leftover fan, I now have breakfast! Win/win. So that was my evening in a nutshell. Oh, and just because I said that, doesn't mean I'm not nervous as hell about being on this keynote panel. I love talking to small groups, but a big one? That makes me want to freeze up preemptively. But I'm going to practice over the next two days, and if I get nervous, stroke my new dress and remind myself I can do it. I do some variation of that countless times each week, and for me, it helps. Whatever works, right? Now, I'm not advocating that I or anyone else go into debt to be a clotheshorse to boost their self-confidence. But in this case, yesterday, I felt justified. Now I just have to find the perfect tights to go with it.