When I was a kid, a.k.a. a long, long time ago, the most usual method of updating my wardrobe was not to go to Nordstrom and drop $500 to buy a pair of jeans that are pre-ripped and look like they have mud on them (it’s a thing; look it up). I didn’t get to go to Walmart for some Wranglers. I didn’t even get to sit on my a(hey! family friendly!)… couch… and buy Bieber-esque low-crotch pants (thank heavens!) from Amazon and then send them back and then repeat that process 3 or 4 more times until the right size actually arrives and then still hate them. Heck, it wasn’t until I had my very own J.O.B and could drive myself to the nearest mall (some 40 miles away at that time) where they sold Brittanicas that I even got to pick my own clothes at all! When I was your age (shakes fist at kids on lawn), shopping for school clothes was being dragged by my mom into my older brother’s closet and getting everything that didn’t fit him any more. Yes… it was (gasp) hand-me-downs.
A family with 11 kids (one family blended from two, to be precise) can’t really afford all new clothes for the masses, so those of us at the bottom of the height chart (which ran parallel to the age chart) inherited the fashion choices of the older, and taller, siblings. If the style was a year or two out of date, well that was a blessing. Sometimes clothes were so well made (damn you denim!) that I would end up wearing fashion from 6, 8 or 10 years ago. It was even worse for my sisters… dude styles don’t really vary much from year to year, with the possible exception of Angel’s Flight and Members Only. (man I looked good in an Angel’s Flight suit!) (shut up, I did!)
Of course, the usual wardrobe update would come at the beginning of the school year. What better time to show off last decade’s fashion, and your family’s obvious lack of caring about your self-esteem? I’m mostly kidding about the lack of caring, but kids at school can be terribly mean. I, however, don’t remember falling prey to the fall-time fashionistas. I can attribute this to one or more of the following.
I was too stupid to know I was being teased about my clothes. (seems likely)
My older brothers had incredible fashion sense and chose timeless threads (it’s possible… I guess)
The town I grew up in was relatively all middle-class or lower and I fit right in.
The kids I grew up with were raised well enough to know you don’t tease those less fortunate than you.
I’m too old and senile to remember that far back. (what was I saying?)
I remember that the clothes would change in size from the beginning of the year to the end. The baggy, bell-bottom pants at the start of the school year often turned into straight-leg “floods” (called floods because it looked like you might have hoisted the bottoms up above your ankles to keep them dry while wading) by the end of the next summer, and the cycle would repeat. Being the youngest boy in the family, my clothes would either be put out of their misery, made into a quilt or, more often, used as shop rags in my dad’s auto repair business.
Side note: floods are actually in style right now. (smh.)
Each year I’d perform the fitting/fashion show for my mom and complain that the clothes were too big. Seriously. I’m the youngest AND the smallest (and I’d say smartest and best looking but I’d get beat up at the next reunion). Mom would just smack me with a hairbrush (ok I only got smacked once and I deserved it) and tell me I’d grow into them.
And I always did.
So why am I telling you I got too big for my britches?
Just like I grew into those hand-me-downs, I eventually grew into a real boy and got a job and had the ability to buy brand-me-new clothes. And, since I’ve been pretty good at avoiding pretzels and donuts, I almost never outgrow my clothes any more, though I have been know to wear them much longer than their useful life. But as I rub my head and remember how it feels to be whacked with a hairbrush, I think back on all the times in my life that I’ve felt like I was facing something far too big and heard those words.
You’ll grow into it.
My first assignment in the Army was not only in a different country, but as a fresh-faced young private I was assigned into a job that was supposed to be filled by a Sargent. I grew into it.
When I got my first real job in computer networking, I ran out and bought a book on networks because, in spite of what I said in the interview, I had no clue about networking. I grew into it.
When I had kids, I knew with each one I was too young and too inexperienced and definitely had no clue how to be a father. But I grew into it.
Several different jobs in several different places. Seeing my kids grow into being their own people and moving out on their own. Losing, winning, crying, grinning (hey that rhymes!), for each of these things I wasn’t sure I could do… I grew into it.
To get to the point (still can’t write a post without one), we are all going to face difficult things.
We’re all going to look at those proverbial pants, hand-me-downs or not and think we’ll never fit. (oh, it’ll fit!)
We’re all going to have trials placed in front of us that test our self-confidence and threaten to make our self-doubt take over.
And, if we’re lucky, we’re going to have opportunities and ambitions and dreams and goals come into our lives, some that make us afraid. Afraid of what will happen if we fail, but also afraid of what will happen if we succeed. The opportunity to grow into something bigger beats the heck out of wearing the same old style, the same old us, decades longer than we should.
When doubt tries to settle in, let’s smack it on the head with a hairbrush and use those words my mom used to say to help us along.