If you run into me on any random day in 2018 you will find me in gold shoes, with some sequins, rocking glitter, and un matching oversized accessories. One earring will probably be larger than the other. I am describing the clothes I wear to walk my street dogs, to pitch an idea to investors, or to meet with my badass lady entrepreneur teammates.
I might wear the same thing out dancing later that night or to a Kesha concert, but it’s not my clubbing uniform, it is just normal life.
Flash backwards to 2007. I have an exclusively earth toned wardrobe. Mostly brown. My friends joked that I wore brown because I loved my studies of soil science and biology. I played along but it wasn’t that. I was hiding. I was trying to blend it. To be unseen.
I didn’t think I was a life worth living. I hated my existence. Undiagnosed mental illness spiraled into self hatred, eating disorder, obsessive perfectionism, and suicidal thoughts. And I coped by hiding behind earth tones and accepting failure without even trying. I was paralyzed by fear so I quit my dreams and put on my failure uniform of brown monotones, condemned for eternity to life in my shadow of self-imposed mediocrity.
Earth tones are the color of my illness winning. They are the shade of sadness and self-hate so deep that I almost never crawled back out. They are the darkness that was never treated and never talked about. They are the unnecessary suffering that results in our society ignoring mental illness.
A month after I took my first anti-depressant my soul sparkled. I woke up one day and passed through an entire day without a word spoken of self hate. Like a wizard from Harry Potter wiggles their wand and cast a spell and poof, all that fog of hate from my whole life magically disappeared. Over time the battle of mental illness isn’t that simple, but in that moment, that day, I can remember as clear as day, one single day I didn’t hate myself, for the first time in my entire adulthood, after 7 years of dark pain and hate.
Fast forward back to 2018. So you find me now, in my sparkles and gold shiny shoes. Is it “professional”? F*ck professional. Does it make the men in black suits around me uncomfortable? I don’t care. I probably lose some clients or entry points or some credibility, sure. Yes. I am positive of it.
Do you know what I would lose if I didn’t remember every single day what it takes for me to stay alive? I would lose my life. I may not be alive. Staying alive is often a full time job when you battle against a mental illness. May it be medication, meditation, sparkle shoes, herbs, therapy, or the combination of all of them, which is my case. I want to be alive, and I will use every tool I have. So if I lose a client who doesn’t like my sparkle uniform? So be it.
I shine and sparkle with shoes and sequins because every day I need to remember what it feels like to live without depression and self hate so I can channel that energy in my brain and keep my body and my mind clear and positive. Do I look rockin in my sparkles? Yeah I do. I really do. I look phenomenal. And 14 years into the darkness disease that lives in me, I can say that and it isn’t just to trick my brain.
You are a queen and you will sparkle in your own way, from inside and if you want, from out. This is how I survive, how I thrive, and how I sparkle. I hope you will find your way to do the same.