True to Your Heart (you must be true to your heart!)

So, as I was preparing to write this post, I ended up looking up “True to Your Heart” on Youtube…and then gaping at the computer screen. We were so LAME in the 90s. I adore MULAN, and I actually liked 98 Degrees (during my ‘N SYNC phase–though 98 Degrees had nothing on Justin Timberlake), but really? Were we REALLY like this at the turn of the millennium?

I mean,

1. We all looked like hobos in the 90s thanks to our baggy clothes (what IS Nick Lachey wearing? A fireman’s jacket?!).

2. We danced like idiots with our toe-bouncing and head bobbing.

3. And if 4 baggy-dressed dudes suddenly followed me out of the subway, I would call the cops.


Back to the purpose of this post–which was all about being True to My Heart (so really, I shouldn’t make fun of the 90s since I loved that stuff while I was livin’ it).

Last week, I went shopping. I hadn’t been in over a year and with the rapidly approaching Comic-Con and book signings, I was starting to get anxious. Every time I looked in the mirror, I would cringe and see a Josie Grossie staring back at me (90s reference. Watch NEVER BEEN KISSED and you will know everything you ever need to know about me).

So I thought: I’ll go shopping. A new wardrobe, some make-up–this will make me Cool and Pretty and Appealing to future readers.

Off I went, feeling excited at the prospect of finally getting some non-90s clothes and maybe some makeup. My first stop was the swankiest, trendiest store in the mall–a store that usually intimidates me because everyone looks so effortlessly awesome and the music is always so cool and obscure that I don’t actually like it. One of those stores.

I waltzed in, determined to find at least a few outfits and go home in style.

One hour later, after trying on all the pretty blouses and skirts and dresses, I staggered back out to my car, defeated and depressed. Sure, all the clothes I tried were “cool”, and they certainly looked pretty on the rack…but they weren’t me. The attendants might “ooh” and “aah” over what I was wearing, and even I thought I looked pretty good…

But I didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like me, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever actually wear any of those clothes if I bought them. Some people can wrap scarves around their necks in the middle of summer (I’m lookin’ at you Parisians) and they just look SO COOL. But I’m not one of those people.

So I left the mall, feeling a million times LOWER than I had coming in. I was Josie Grossie^10. I was pond scum. I was so hideous and lame, no one would ever want to read my book, much less get anything signed by me.

As I drove, my mind ran through some other Very Cool Stores I could stop by. If I went home empty-handed, wouldn’t that be the ultimate sign of defeat?

It was at that moment that lightning hit:

This is why western culture is so consumer-driven–always pushed to buy more yet always feeling emptier.

Advertising preys on our insecurities.

Duh, right? It seems SO obvious, and I’m sure I’ve heard people say the exact same thing before…yet it never hit home quite like it did at that moment. There I was obsessing over changing myself–over buying clothes that I didn’t really like JUST so I could feel cool. Over dropping loads of $$ on make-up and learning to apply it when I don’t even WEAR make-up.

It was as if the clouds parted, light beamed down into my car, and the angels sang.

If I wasn’t happy with how I looked, then the first thing that needed to change was my attitude.

Then, if I still wanted to buy new clothes, I needed to by things that were basic and plain–things that suited me.

Basically, I had to CHOOSE to not be Josie Grossie anymore.

Guys, I cannot express to you how much this simple realization affected me. I drove straight back to the mall, went to the old stores I usually shop at, picked out a few key (and very basic) items that I can mix and match in my usual Sooz-style, and I went home smiling like an idiot and feeling downright beautiful.

And you know what? Ever since that realization, my husband has said to me every day–sometimes more than once–that I look great. He’ll kind of cock his head, give a half-smile, and say, “You look cute today” or “You look really nice.” He has no idea that I went through this identity crisis–he can just tell that I’m different.

I’m still wearing no make-up, and I’m still dressing pretty much the same as I did 5 years ago or even 10 years ago (although certainly less hobo looking). That’s who I am, and I think I like that person. All it takes is some inner shine, and we’re all beautiful.

So sing it with me:

True to your heart, you must be true to your heart!

That’s when the heavens will part, and baby, shower you with my love!

Open you eyes, your heart can tell you no lies,

And when you’re true to your heart, I know it’s gonna lead you straight to me.

I’m being true to my heart, and though it’s not leading me straight to 98 Degrees (thank goodness), it IS leading me straight back to me. And at the end of the day, ME is a thousand times more beautiful than that girl in the magazine because ME is absolutely unique and unlike any person out there.

You tell me: How do you battle the insecurities?