Monday, April 20, 2020

The Invisible Weight of Worrying

You've been invited to a meetup. You've planned your outfit and are ready to head out the door. Then it hits you. Is this outfit OK? Why didn't I wear X/Y/Z? Do I have enough time to get there? I got here too early am I at the right place? What if I don't know anyone? What's the app that filters out all the flaws? Should I hang out afterwards or go home? Will anyone like me?

I am constantly asked “is there drama?” when people want to get into Lolita or ask about the local community. Sometimes their response is “I'm not part of the community because I don't want to deal with drama.” Drama implies that you are already part of a close-knit group but if you've hardly attended an event there's no reason for this logic. It also implies you should be social whether you like it or not. Sometimes its more about what you think others will think of you than what others will say about you. Whatever negative thoughts you have before you even start it is probably that fear of the unknown.

It's very easy to say “Just do it” when someone wants to get into Lolita fashion. Sometimes it's not so simple. It's natural to have fears and worries and feelings of inadequacy, especially when your new at something. When you want to meet up with other like minded people you want to impress them with your knowledge and style take.

Sometimes you will amaze people and be talk of the town. Sometimes you feel like you said something wrong, hate yourself afterwards and replay that moment over and over. And over.

As I'm getting older I find the community less important to me because that's not the core reason I wanted to embrace this fashion. When I started out I wanted to find like minded people because I was new to the city and wanted to connect to others with similar interests. I have and did and I'm extremely thankful for the weird emotional support group that I've created for myself. Not only that but in general, I am not very comfortable talking to people overall. At first I felt that it was just nerves and thought the best way to overcome this was putting myself in as many social situations as possible. However now it still feels awkward and disingenuous no matter how many times I've hung out with people.

Like most tribes, you can get sucked into a group mentality. The feeling of being included all the time is strong. That group picture would validate you as a Lolita if you go to every event. Going to every outing is emotionally exhausting but to say you were there also makes worth it. Keeping up to date on the latest trends and brand releases takes a toll on your wallet but you have the envious attention that feels important. You tell yourself you need to do these things to feel like you belong.

So is getting into Lolita fashion worth it? That's up to you.

I will say that due to job changes and monetary reasons I stopped going to meetups. Life simply got in the way as it always does. I no longer really cared about the latest series (This is a lie but I am able to ask myself is this a want versus a need?). Not only that but I'm constantly battling social anxiety and lack of self worth that I was telling myself that I don't deserve it to the point everything in garbage bags because it was too stressful a process to sell my entire closet.

But the FOMO grew extensively especially with social media. Everything should be curated to create that personality you believe is defined as “Lolita.” If you do this you feel it will give you the validation that you belong.

A few years ago, I hadn't gone to a big event in years and I thought maybe I was fine and it there was a guest I wanted meet for the first time. I could be there as if I never left being part of a group. In reality I was afraid to do anything as soon as I arrived. I felt there was a certain procedure to follow even though there wasn't. I could barely converse with people I had known for quite a few years. I felt out of touch and the social pressure overwhelmed me seeing others converse so smoothly and effortlessly. The negative feelings of being not on pointe and being the unintentional wallflower stuck. It wasn't my fault, just that little voice that is second guessing everything who happens to be VERY LOUD. For the rest of the afternoon I panicked when I should've engaged. I froze. I no longer felt like I belonged because I hadn't been going to every meetup I was invited to or wanted to take selfies. I ushered myself out as the host said event was over when I should've said goodbyes that would last way too long to the people I knew.

For the record, this is my personal experience. I'm not saying you shouldn't be part of the community. You should at least try. You can find the truest of friends and you can also discover new skills you never thought you could do because you found a style that speaks to you.

If that latest MTO dress makes you genuinely happy and you have the funds, go for it. If you want to go to a meetup to see friends or just show off a new coordinate, go for it. If you want to post on social media about how amazing Lolita makes you feel -- reading this shouldn't stop you.

However it's not negating the fact you can also panic and worry and paralyze yourself into extreme disassociation and severe anxiety attacks. And that's OK too. You've learned it's not for you. If you feel more comfortable with close friends, do that. If you can only hang out one on one, do that. If you prefer going solo, be that lone wolf.

You are still part of the community in your own way.

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