Do You Have a Fear of Standing Out?

April 5, 2010

How do you feel about standing out from the crowd? Does it excite you and make you smile or does it strike terror in your heart and make you cringe at the very thought. What has been your alternative to standing out? Many women describe their style as “beige,” “predictable” or “downright boring.” Rarely do they purposely choose that look, as you can imagine. It is usually a response to their deeply rooted fear of standing out for the wrong reasons, i.e., they would rather fade into the woodwork than risk looking silly or inappropriate. The results? Each time they get dressed their self-esteem and confidence takes a direct hit.

For some women they equate standing out with looking flamboyant, outrageous or ostentatious. But that doesn’t have to be true (although those looks certainly do cause a few stares!). Standing out means owning who you are and celebrating that (and if flamboyant, outrageous or ostentatious is who you are then celebrate it!). It can run the gamut from subtle and elegant to dramatic and bold. What is important, however, is that it be in keeping with your personality and inner essence. Then, no matter where on the continuum you fall, it just feels (and looks!) right.

Recently, I met with a woman who was about to re-enter the dating scene and felt apprehensive. Her most pressing question was, “On what date should I show cleavage?” Together we did some work and determined that her personality was primarily gentle, heartfelt and radiant. I could tell just by looking at her that the idea of showing a lot of cleavage felt foreign and uncomfortable. She had this predetermined belief, however, that she was supposed to expose her cleavage, so it came as a huge relief to her to learn that she never had to if she didn’t want to. What she really wanted to explore was how to look and feel sexy in a way that was authentic for her. Now, that’s a different story!

What is your look saying about you? What motivation is driving you to choose the outfits you do? Are you trying to blend in and hide (this never really works) or stand out in a way that gives you confidence and feels good? I have learned that most women would prefer to stand out in a positive way but they just don’t know how to do it so they retreat into what feels easy and familiar.

The next time you get dressed, rate the outfit you choose to wear on a scale of one to ten. In this case a ten would mean that you are totally celebrating and dressing authentically and with no apologies, and one would be that you are hiding as much as is humanly possible. Obviously, the goal is to get to ten! Next, analyze your look. What aspect of your style feels like you are trying really hard not to be noticed? Is it the color (too beige, black, neutral)? Is it the cut of the outfit (boxy and shapeless)? Is it the fabric (sweatshirt, head to toe polar fleece)? Is it the accessories (or lack thereof)? Is it that it’s all solid colors and there are no interesting textures or patterns? Once you have made a determination, make a concerted effort to tweak (remember, baby steps) just one of those components at a time. Add a touch of color, texture, or accessories. Keep trying until it feels good and fun. As you build on this step-by-step and begin to make positive changes, you will find that standing out has a whole new, delightful meaning!

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