Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thoughts On Failure

Yesterday's failure at dressing well made me blue -- it sent me into an emotional funk. 

I tweeted my despair in language that was hyperbolic, partly due to the lateness of the hour and my physical exhaustion.  (My opportunity to dress up comes at the end of a long day of work and only unstoppable enthusiasm propels me to engage in it despite physical fatigue.)

A few of you responded to my tweet with compassion and good sense.  The incident is a minor thing; tomorrow is another day; no real harm done.  In fact, I learned about fashion from what didn't work and why.  Your comments made perfect sense.  (Thank you, Megan, Sage, CallieKat and Cara.)

After a good night's sleep, I realized something else was at work.  The failure triggered my insecurity about being able to dress competently as a woman.  (Not convincingly; just competently, which means not embarrassingly.)  I realized this insecurity was operating when I started questioning whether I should cancel the party scheduled for the future (3/3) because I don't want to be a fool and, if the best I can do is look like a hairy football-player in shoddy drag, perhaps I should just go back into the closet where I lived for five decades and shut the door on possible happiness.

Hey, it was late, I was tired.  Insecurity got the best of me.  I realize now that I shouldn't regress, but sometimes emotions grab us and take us to sad places.

Were you aware that I have this insecurity?  Do you know I worry about embarrassing myself on this blog?  Well... it's true.  I try hard to be positive and constructive here but I do have to battle emotions generated from a lifetime of having the female side of me suppressed deeper than the secret to atomic bombs.  When I scrutinize my photos to see if they're good enough to post, I worry about your reactions to the tiniest of details.  This is why your comments are so important to me.

Do you ever overreact to something because of a hidden insecurity?


  1. I totally understand, and certainly the feeling of wondering if you're being competent at womanhood applies to people like me who were born women. The very things that make the appearance aspect of womanhood enthralling--the fashion, the makeup, the glamour--can also sometimes set us up for failure, or rather the feeling of it. It's sort of a trap, in a way.

    You never have to worry about embarrassing yourself on here, at least not through the eyes of this faithful reader. Watching you grow into this part of your life is engaging and makes me so pleased--the smile on your face in your photos brings me joy. Overcoming the fear of feeling foolish is easier said than done, but it's worth doing.

  2. Well, you're not alone on that. Why do you think I post so few outfit posts? There are so many things that could go wrong. For me, I'm insecure about my face. I look just fine off-camera, but then shit happens and I look at the pictures and want to rip my face off.

    And man, I overreact to things in the writing world. I "unsubscribed" from a friend on Facebook because she entered her novel into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest and I was overcome with jealously because her writing is good and, had I entered, she would have kicked my ass in the rankings. I'm insanely competitive with other writers my age, and in all the wrong ways. I'm still a very insecure writer. I hope that'll change with time and experience.

    I shop cheaply, so if something doesn't work out, I don't sweat it. I re-sell it or get rid of it. There's no use dwelling on a piece that isn't going to be worth your time or closet/floor/counter/futon/shelf space!

  3. I always overreact to my insecurities. In fact, part of the reason I took some time off from blogging is that I realized I was dissecting myself when looking at my photos. I have a deep history of disordered eating and I found myself thinking I was fat, sturdy, etc and it was affecting the way I felt about myself. I had to stop and take a step back back and realize that what I was seeing was really a distorted representation of the reality.

    I think you do great and should be applauded for this blog. You are truly putting yourself out there and that takes a lot of bravery and confidence. I enjoy following you on your wonderful journey to your authentic self. Keep on keeping on :)

  4. Anyone who says they never are insecure and never overreact - they are full of baloney. I think the further you are trying to stretch, the more vulnerable it makes you (general you, not you specifically) to a perception of failure. You have an overall goal of feminine expression that underlies everything you do on the blog. So how the dress looks with the belt, while an apect of the post, is not the focal point. We are reacting to just the outfit and your underlying need is not being addressed. Or I am talking out my ears - which happens sometimes.

  5. Overreacting is a totally female characteristic dear!! Don't you worry, you look fab! Much better than many women I know of!

  6. I think insecurities are a part of being human. As much as we feel we are something, until someone else validates it.. we can have trouble accepting it for ourselves. I don't think your insecurities, a bad outfit, a good outfit, or any of that define your worth as a woman. I think you are a good person with a passion for what you do, and you're helping all of your readers think and learn about themselves.

    My biggest insecurity is my "young" look. It gets commented on all the time about my age or young looks. It was something I was teased about as a kid, and still get teased about as an adult. I still react rather badly when people think they're making a joke. I would say I'm working towards getting better about it, but the best I've learned to do is let people know that's not cool and step away from the situation so I don't say something rude.

    I think we all need to fall on our face once in awhile, but don't forget, Ally, you have friends here.

  7. Mhm, so I *still* think that outfit wasn't a failure (maybe my own style is matronly and I never noticed?!), but I do empathize with the insecurities thing. It's only human, we all have these kinds of crises! We all try out stuff that we end up not liking, it's part of the experience of growing (up), and the learning never ends. Don't blame yourself for trying something out, and certainly not for having the courage to share your experiments with the world!

  8. Honestly, you should know that a lot of these insecurities are ones every other fashion bloggers face! Back when I used to fashion blog, I was the same way when it came to posting my outfits. I was terribly insecure and thought all the other more "fashionable" bloggers would be scrutinizing every detail. In reality, they don't!

    I think your confidence and ease really overrides everything else on this blog. I never really thought that you had any insecurities, because you are so comfortable in your own skin and you have a really fabulous sense of style. When I see your outfit posts, I don't see a man in drag. I see you. Does that make any sense? I hope so.

    I looked back on your last outfit and I thought you looked lovely! It was very well put-together. But I did see what you meant about feeling old-fashioned. It's difficult to make a vintage look seem modern and fresh. I thought you did a very nice job with the pearls and the belt. I wish I was fashion savvy enough to offer tips. But you should be teaching me how to dress, let's be real! Lol.

    I hope you're feeling better. :)

  9. Your insecurities and fears sound very familiar. Personally, I over react to just about everything because of hidden insecurities. It seems to me that everyone is carrying around a small bag of hidden insecurities that get the better of them now and then.

    I think when you're undertaking the extraordinarily brave leap forward in expressive your true self - as you are - you are going to find yourself plagued by fear every now and then. You have to remember that all your readers see a lot more than the dress in your posts. We see your passion, your kindness, your intelligence and your wonderful emotional bravery. It's an intoxicating picture and very inspiring.

    And you know, that dress wasn't a failure. It was a signpost on your journey that tells you something we all work out sooner or later: that sadly, not every dress is going to work on every woman. The good news is that there are lots of of other dresses in the wardrobe!

    Chin up, Buttercup, and don't miss out that party!

  10. Oh, Lordy...I am NO stranger to overreacting about things. lol But like you discovered, there's usually something deeper hiding under the surface that is the real cause for the episode. It wasn't really about the outfit; it just happened that the outfit brought that lurking insecurity to the surface. Maybe this is a positive thing because it helped you face the insecurity. And letting it get the best of you temporarily is soooo normal. The important part is that key word there: temporarily. And if I know you, you're not the type to let anything keep you down for too long. :) You got some very poignant comments here. When Freeda said the further you stretch, the more vulnerable you can feel, that hit it on the head. But you gotta keep stretching. Don't shut the happiness door. And you couldn't look like a hairy football player in drag if you tried. You exude femininity.

  11. Oh Ally I know it must be so hard for you! Being a fashion blogger is hard enough on its own. We all take pictures of ourselves, our entire bodies, of things that we think we look good in. We also have to face the outdoors to take pics, which means having people stare at you. Think about it, most females I know, won't even let me post a pic of them on FB because they are scared that they look fat or old or tired or drunk or mad...etc. And he we are, taking multiple pics every day, for the internet world to pass judgment. I get worked up too, I get mad when I take fuzzy yellow indoor shots, or when I can't find an outfit, or when I can't take decent pics alone. I get so upset when I see the bigger bloggers take multiple ones and look awesome every single time. I cry and get mad and think "Why do I bother to do this?!" but then I think of all the other people in the world that have issues worse off than mine and I tell myself to shut-up and to remember it is all for fun, and for me.

  12. Sara, they don't look awesome in every picture they take...they only post the more flattering ones, trust me. :)

  13. Oh, Ally, I wish I could give you a hug - of course, we all get insecure, and I am a total Drama Queen in real life. I have always been insecure about my appearance, my weight and how others perceived me. It's so much about forcing yourself to face those fears. Please remind yourself of all the positives! Look back at outfits you did from a year ago, and look at how far you have come!

    Showing your vulnerability is a strength. Most people don't realize this, and see vulnerability as a weakness; it's not. It takes an incredible amount of fortitude to put yourself out there. It will make you even stronger.

    Rock on, girl! We are all in your corner.

  14. You know, I believe that you are a braver soul than I am. I have stacks of outfits I didn't deem worthy of my blog and so never posted them. I'm self-conscious about my aging face and skin and simply avoid taking close up shots. So, I'm avoiding my vulnerabilities while you are facing them head on.

  15. Ally, I think most of us have insecurities. I know I do! I am overweight, carry most of my weight around my middle, have had a bilateral mastectomy which makes my chest concave above my very large middle and that is just part of my insecurities. It takes courage to put pictures of oneself on a blog and wonder about comments or not having any comments. I have so many days when I wonder if it is all worth it. I know we are supposed to be body positive, but it sure is hard to do. I admire you so much for sharing yourself with us.
    And girl, if I had your legs I would be showing them off all the time! I am willing to bet your legs are much less hairy than mine! Don't call off your party. Please enjoy life and party if you want.

  16. This is such a brave and honest post and speaks volumes as to why it is that yours is one of the first blogs I check for every morning. Please, please, please don't let that internal naysaying voice, one we all have, stop you from attending your party! I know your doubts started over the outfit post but it seems to me that it really isn't about the outfit. I think overreacting is part of the human experience. I've had a problem wearing short skirts ever since the 6th grade when a boy at school said he's seen better legs on a cow. It was something so long ago and yet all came flooding back in some ways I'm not very proud of when I was asked to wear a short dress in a wedding. I guess it is the desire not be seen as less than by comparison that made it so hard for me. I wish for you that you see yourself as we all see you: smart, lovely, legs to die for, huge heart and female. And please go to your party. Every girl, no matter her age, deserves to experience those nervous butterflies while getting dressed and having that moment to shine!

  17. No, you are not backing out on tha party. In fact you are going to beging rehearsing for it.
    Its ok to over react, i can be a drama queen - you are in control.

  18. Hey Ally, A HUGE hug to you. We all overract to our insecurities whether we are born women or not.

    We all have fashion failures/disappointments and we need to learn from them. I think you have had far more successes than failures in your quest to find your look and this one blue blip on your "record" should not deter you and send you back to the closet.

    I certainly love to see what you do and if there is anyone here who is not supportive of what you are trying to accomplish then they should not read your blog.

    You are a true inspiration!!!