Of all the mediocre accomplishments in my life, maybe one I’m especially proud of was winning “Best Dressed” in high school
I’ve always had a bit of a thing for clothing, shoes especially. And really, anything that helped me stand out and be just different enough for people to notice me.
My closet now is filled with more brightly colored Nike shoes than a guy really needs, but thankfully I’m married to a woman who enables my addiction and bought me a few more on Cyber Monday because they were less than $30 each.
Looking back, there were some really incredible clothing moments in my life.
Like, when me and a buddy dressed like Kris Kross to school one day. Complete with backwards jean shorts and Florida Marlins jerseys.
Or when I rocked a Michigan starter jacket (having never stepped foot in Michigan) because my sister’s high school boyfriend (who was a baller) liked them and I thought the Fab Five was the greatest team ever (I cried for an hour when Webber called that timeout against UNC).
And the time in elementary school when I sported a brand-new pair of glow-in-the-dark Mickey Mouse boxer shorts. Not as boxers but as actual shorts (mom and dad, how’d you let that happen?).
Or the grunge / flannel / Nirvana thing I had going for awhile.
In college, a couple buddies and I wore Gap capri pants around one summer (somehow we maintained most of our friendships).
Oh, and I about forgot about the Velcro sneakers from Walmart that I’d wear, not because they’re all I could afford, but because I knew they’d get a reaction.
I’m nearly 40 now, and I wish I could say that little boy who so badly wanted someone to say nice things to him has grown up and matured beyond that desire.
But when I got the comment this morning at our Old Man Hoops game that my friend liked my all-white KD’s, I liked that more than he probably knew.
So clearly it’s still in me.
I could list dozens more hideous clothing choices from my past, but there’s a comment a dear friend of mine told me over some bacon and eggs early one morning last year that stuck with me.
He’s a guy who quite literally has picked me up at my lowest points these past couple years, only after he’s sat in them with me and felt my pain.
If a book ever comes out of my story, he’ll have an entire chapter to himself for all the ways he’s helped me.
In that breakfast booth that morning, we were discussing how easily fooled we are. How we think people just have their stuff together and tidy, even though our own lives are far from it.
He likened our adult efforts to recess, back in the day.
The awful game of picking teams for kickball or Red Rover. You sure as crap never wanted to be picked last so you hustled and jockeyed to get the team captains to find you worthy of their selection.
He said, “basically, we’re all just running around, trying really hard to get picked.”
I think he’s right.
At least, it’s certainly right about me at times.
Will you think my shoes are cool?
Will you tell me I’m a good writer?
Will you say nice things about my family?
Will you tell me I’m going to be OK?
It’s a struggle beyond words, but the lesson I’m very slowly learning is that I don’t need some outside entity or person to give me my identity.
I don’t need them to pick me to tell me I have worth.
And you don’t either.
The deepest parts of us are really good.
We’re loved. We’re accepted. We’re beautiful.
Not because our clothes are cool or our families are perfect, but just because.
And just as we are.
So if you see me in Velcro shoes or backwards jean shorts soon, feel free to tell me you like them. I’d still like to hear that.
Just know I’m not putting the pressure on you anymore to pick me.