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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Shopping for Truth: Sticking out with a pink coat

Published: February 27, 2009
Section: Opinions

When I was in middle school, the last thing I wanted to do was stick out. I didn’t want people to take too much notice of my wardrobe because that was a problem, as any fifth grader can tell you. Lucky for me, that wasn’t much of a problem.

You see, I went to eight years of Catholic school and my inner fashionista was stifled for those eight LONG years. I often self-diagnose my current clothes fetish by telling myself that I was denied the chance for self expression for so long and now it’s only fair that I express myself. But, anyway, that’s only my justification and I’m not a psych major.

So back to the story. The thing that I hated the most – standing out – was pretty much inevitable in the cursed New England winters I’ve grown up in. Ask any New Englander and they’ll know what I’m talking about.

There was this pink, puffy, long down winter coat that my mom made we wear to school every day. Let me tell you, I hated this coat with a passion. Now I’ve always been a girly girl and have always loved pink. But at the time I loathed this coat. It seemed like everyone else was diving headfirst into the trend of wearing “sophisticated” black and navy, (although, ironically, we all complained about having to wear exactly those colors in our uniform) and I didn’t want to be known as the “girl in the pink coat.” When you’re a fifth grader, you don’t want to stand out, not in that way at least.

But I wore it anyway, however grudgingly. And every morning my mom would send me to school in that puffy pink coat, and a hat and gloves and a scarf and boots when the weather required them. And every morning I trudged out the door begrudgingly, waiting for spring to come so I could shed that stupid coat for another few months until it all started again.

In junior high school, I finally asserted a bit of my inner fashionista and went through a pea coat phase after my Mom bought me a navy blue one. And boy did I love that pea coat. It wasn’t big, and it didn’t stand out; it was simply perfect. I wore it for years until my mom so kindly told me I had to get rid of the thing because it had pilled so much.

Before we get to the point of this column, allow me one more anecdote.

When I was little, I hated shopping with my mom. I always got so bored just walking around while she shopped in stores like Macy’s; stores where you could easily play the biggest game of hide and go seek and never get caught. It all seemed so tedious – “Wow another sale…who cares?”

What a difference a few years can make, right? That was then. And here in the now, we get to the point. This is now, and I’m ironically still in those same situations, although my attitude has done a complete 180.

If you can tell from the name of this regular column, I love to shop. And if you’ve had any type of interaction with me over these past few winter months, perhaps you’ve noticed the color of my pink winter coat. So how did the little girl who hated that puffy pink coat and dreaded the trip to the mall turn into the shopaholic wearing the pink pea coat?

I often ask myself the same thing. And isn’t it funny how the things we used to hate when we were younger can so easily become the things we love as we get older?

Maybe it’s perspective. Maybe after all these years we finally realize that we were stupid and that Mother was right after all.

I don’t care about standing out anymore. And maybe we have to go through those insecure childhood phases to learn that the person we were avoiding becoming was what we were really meant to become all along.

Sure, my pink coat still makes me stick out, but who cares? And ironically, my pink coat is a combination of the two major phases of coats in my life: pink and pea coats. After all this time, I’ve finally combined the two.

Maybe this sounds narcissistic to you. Maybe you think I’m crazy. Maybe I don’t care. And that’s exactly the point.

I don’t care if I stick out anymore and I’m sure if you look at yourself you’ll see that we are nothing but a mosaic of our childhood experiences. We become who we are by going through the very experiences that when we look back on them make us cry, laugh or sometimes even cringe. That’s exactly the point.

So when you look back on your childhood or your high school years, remember to laugh at what you were and how it’s shaped who you’ve become. Perhaps we’d all do well to think of that in relation to who we want to become five or 10 years from now. If our former experiences shape who we become, maybe we should all pay a bit more attention to how we act now and realize that we are responsible for making most of our destiny.

And if this column isn’t indication enough, I’ll be the girl walking around campus in the pink coat with the pink book bag and the pink purse. I’ll probably also be wearing a pink sweater underneath.