I love clothes, but you’d never know it if you bumped into me on campus.
In high school, I was that one student that always complained about our mandatory uniforms. I’d cheat with interesting jewelry, scarves, and cardigans – anything that I could quickly pull of if I caught sight of the hall monitor (Oh, Mr. Magner, how I miss thee). During my first few months at U of T, I’d pick out a cute outfit every night before school. I loved getting dressed in the morning.
Everything changed when my first midterm rolled around. I stopped putting effort into what I wore; I would grab the nearest, most comfortable thing in my closet and make a dash for the door. My wardrobe since then has consisted of a hoodie/cardigan/pullover, three of the same hijabs on rotation, and a loose pair of pants or jeans. I haven’t really thought about clothes, and my style, in a very long time.
On Monday morning at the ungodly hour of 10 AM, I walked into class in my new, made-for-UofT-uniform and spotted a friend of mine who’s outfit looked really, really well put-together. I couldn’t help but tease her, asking her who she was trying to impress. After retorting with a couple of good-natured comebacks, she said, “this might sound super corny, but seriously, Hawa – the way I dress impacts the way that I think. Putting effort into my outfits on Monday morning motivates me to get up and go.”
I realized that I’m exactly the same way. Expressing my style and taking care in the way that I dress makes me happy and more focused. When I first started not caring, I remember feeling like I rolled out of bed and walked out the door, kind of like how you might feel if you left your house without brushing your teeth.
I’m making a pact with myself to put effort into my outfits on the days when I have my earliest/most daunting classes. I don’t follow all trends or buy a new outfit every other day, because it’s not about that. It’s about the act of taking care of myself and being true to my style and preferences, especially during moments when I feel like I don’t have the time or energy to indulge in the things that I love. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our grades that we forget that although we may not have reached our goals yet, we’re still currently in the process of living.
I promise to inject things that make me happy into the hustle-and-bustle of mid-terms and exams. Are you with me, UofT?