Monday, April 2, 2012

Look + Lessons :: Quarterlife Crisis

Outfit details: Dress - Felina & Dandall. Belt - Swapped from Liesel. Tights, bracelet, bag - Ann Taylor. Bangles - InPink. Booties - Target.

It's amazing when you realize that you've been living a certain way, and you didn't even know it because you were so busy living that you weren't thinking about how. Sometimes we need a moment to pause and dig deep into our hearts to recognize why we are the way we are. It can give us so many answers to smaller questions, and reactions to situations, that come up in our day-to-day.

When I was younger, I was very quiet. Now, I am -– most of the time -– very loud. It's taken me years to figure out why there was this change in outward personality.

Growing up, I was teased at school, my heart bruised and broken long before I went on my first date at eighteen years old. In the sixth grade, I was called 'bunny teeth' and 'chicken legs.' I was asked out by the 'popular' guys, but only as a joke. I played the flute in marching band, which came with a slew of taunts including one from a classmate that was something like 'your dad fucks you with that, doesn't he?' I was made fun of for my puffy hair, my thick eyebrows, my high-waisted pants -– things that are, by the way, in style now (and probably worn by the people that used to tease me). Eventually, my only friend at the time passed me a note in class one day saying she couldn't talk to me anymore because I 'wasn't cool enough.'

By the seventh grade, I was fed up. I ran away. Granted, I only ran away to the public library and was found by my crying mother after a few hours, but it was something. My parents didn't understand and thought it was their fault -– that they had done something wrong. They weren't the problem; it was everyone else. I couldn't wait to leave that town, but I didn't have a choice. So every day after that, I went to school, didn't say a word to anyone, and came home to read and write in my bedroom. I became lost in my stories -– stories of a life I wished I had, stories of girls with friends and boyfriends and people besides their parents that thought they were pretty.

In high school, I finally found a place, with the theatre kids. They were known to be as 'weird' as I was, and finally, I had people I could relate to. My experience with the stage changed my life. People liked me and wanted to be around me, and I was incredulous -– even skeptical at first. I began to come out of my shell, and instead of hiding in my room after school, I was going to rehearsal and then a local coffee shop with friends until my parents called for the third time to remind me I was out past curfew. At one point, I thought about moving to New York after high school and becoming an actress (though writing is, and always was, my biggest passion).

My personality continued to break through well into college and out until I became the outgoing, boisterous person I'm known as today. But I didn't realize until recently that how I act now is a way of protecting my heart just as much as being a quiet, invisible hermit in middle school was. If I make fun of myself, no one else can make fun of me. If I tell everyone everything, then no one has a chance to break my trust. If I start to date someone and I show them my wild personality right away, then they won't find it out later and decide that they don't like it. I'm protecting myself from rejection, the rejection that I felt as a pre-teen from classmates and then as a young adult from dates. And every time I feel another stab at my heart, I become louder and more confident, but also harder and more controlling, feeling the need to dominate in every area of my life, and increasingly becoming more frustrated when I can't.

My attitude went from "it's not you, it's me" as a 14-year-old to "it's not me, it's you" as a 24-year-old. I'm not sure if either extreme is healthy, but the point is that lately, my confidence is becoming exhausted. It seems easier to start blaming myself again for what happens, especially with men, and I'm starting to pull my personality back in under my shell. Because if I was really as great as I thought I was, then I wouldn't be single at 25. Right?

I know I'm going through a quarterlife crisis, and most people do. I'm not writing about this because it's unique –- I'm writing about this because it's not. What scares me about making this public is that I don't want people to get confused. How I act now, and how I acted before, both make up what I am. They're just two different sides, and one will always stand out more than the other. It's not always consistent; I know that I contradict myself. Because of this, what I post here is judged and questioned, and I'm okay with that. I had to be okay with it from the beginning. My blog is a reflection of who I am at the moment, and who I am –- as I type this –- is a mess.

(This post was written and these photos were taken yesterday as I flew from Los Angeles to Houston to Charlotte and then drove to Myrtle Beach, where I am staying for the week. First and last photos from my phone; others taken with my DSLR.)


  1. myrtle beach! glad to see you made it there okay and seem to be having fun - your dress and glasses are adorable.

    and i understand - i think everyone grows as they get older, you just may have become more comfortable in your skin. high school me was different than present me was different than child me, but i think i have grown more comfortable into the self i started to build in high school. :)

  2. First off - goodness, girl, what a great dress on you!

    Second - so much of this post could have easily been written by me. I was pretty much a loner in middle school; I was embarrassed about certain things (see, I'm still shy about talking about them) so I withdrew deep into myself. I found a "home" in high school with our theatre department and came out of my shell quite a bit. And I, too, considered being an actress, but writing is my first love!

    My advice? If you pull into yourself, make sure it's for the right reasons. Don't do it because you're down on yourself; do it to do some self-reflection. The former could end up being destructive, while the latter is constructive. You'll get through this time, and I commend you for sharing your thoughts with us so honestly.

  3. i completely understand the exhausted confidence. i was always a "confident" kid who grew into a popular teenager who knew what to say to get everyone to like me. now that i am growing older and becoming more in touch with the introverted elementary school gaby, i am realizing that i have always been insecure but just very good at hiding it. it was that insecurity that turned me into a mean girl in high school and taught me to pin people against each other to make myself look better. it's scary the person i was, not only because of the hurt i was causing other people, but how blind i (and everyone else) was to the demons inside of me. that felt really good to share.

  4. Everyone changes as they grow AND everyone is scared at times! That is the process of life. I know I have been doing a lot of reflection lately (as I approach my birthday as well...) and it is all a good thing...

    I hope you have a fabulous vacation and these photos are beautiful!

  5. I think that balance is one of the hardest things in this world to achieve. But maybe being on one end of the extreme or the other is okay as long as your overall feeling is pretty content. If what works for you now isn't what worked, years, weeks, or hours ago that's okay. And its okay if it changes a day from now. As long as your happy in the present, maybe it doesn't matter so much if it's the best way to be.

  6. oh darling, being single at 25 has *nothing* to do with your worth as a person. Dating is just so much luck, of the right person in the right place.

    I tend towards the 'it's not me, it's you' stratgy too, although I'm not that loud I'm very open, having experienced both too, I think it's a healthier attitude to have.

  7. hey great post..

    there is NOTHING wrong with being a single independent intelligent fashionista at age 25! continue to work on your life goals and focus on yourself! Love your writing x

  8. I don't think being single is a reflection of some sort of damaged strand in your personality that needs to somehow be changed or repaired...that said though, I think it's totally normal to undergo these periods of self-reflection and personality changes...think of how bowing we'd all be if we stayed the same throughout life!

    Courtney ~

  9. Hey Stephanie,
    I've been reading your blog for a few months, but haven't commented until now. LOVE this post. I'm 26 and pretty much all of my friends are single right now. It's so much more common than you think. Thank you for being so honest and real. That's why I got hooked on your blog in the first place. Your writing style is compelling and captivating and it inspires me to want to open up more when writing my own blog posts.

    Oh and holy crap are kids horrible. But they would SO be eating their words if they could see you now because you are GORGEOUS, girl!

    paper crowns

  10. Oh, sweet nice baby...I want to give you advice or comfort, but I also want to stand back and let you experience your 20s the way you need too. I think you'll sort it all out. It's good you're so self-aware and always working on the inner you. I love that about you.

  11. You, quiet? nevah! I love you JUST the way you are.....:)

    And you know how much Im diggin this polka outfit on you!

  12. My dear beautiful Stephanie! Believe me, I went through exactly the same thing. I was skinny, ackward, & called "too smart" up until and into high school. I found friends who were deemed the "geeks" and instantly knew they were my kin. I was accepted without fail, and they are my friends to this day.

    NOW, geek seems to be chic and with my own blog I'm finding out that people I knew (but were not true friends with) in high school actually follow and know about my blog. I went through many trials & tribulations of love, but in my late 30's, I found the love of my life and we have a beautiful son.

    Life ebbs and flows Stephanie, but you just keep being you and don't worry about what doesn't happen (like romance). It comes when it's time, and you'll know it when it does.

    Loved this post, and love you!


  13. I certainly think that you are right- most people do go through a crisis like this. I know I did! And I probably lived it out in some seriously unhealthy ways. I can't have regrets about it now, but I did. All that is what led me to the place where I finally met my husband. We were 27 when we got married. I wouldn't take back the single/lonely years for anything! I learned a lot about myself in that time. By the way? I always thought I was the only one called "bunny teeth"! Small comfort, but I was not alone, eh? Now, twenty years later, I finally have an appointment with a surgeon to talk about getting my jaw fixed (for health, not cosmetic reasons!). I told my hubs: "Call me crazy, but when all the dental work is done, I think I will be a happier person. My mouth has kept me from confidence too many times to count." And he said? "Well, your smile is one of my favorite things about you, so don't change it too much!"

  14. 3 Things:
    1. You're flippin' that hair pretty good for being in a crisis.

    2. No you're not alone and the idea is to connect which is virtually what you're doing...I went through the "crisis" at sucked. But at least you see it as such and not that there is inherently anything wrong with you. There isn't. You seem pretty cool.

    3. The right person will come along when the time is right. Perhaps right now is time for you to get to lovin' yourself. Like seriously, take yourself on a date. Send yourself flowers, do all the romantic things that someone, someday will do for you.

    Live Loud Sister!

  15. Oh my goodness - Steph, you are so incredibly gorgeous! I'm so glad you got that dress. It was made for you! I totally understand your crisisness. I've gone thru a few myself, and they really aren't fun. All of those people who were mean to you make me sad. I was bullied all the way up through the end of highschool, and it's really no fun & no joke. I know you will get through all of this, and find someone that harmonizes with you & really compliments your being. Just be patient and live life as best you can! There's so much love coming to you, lady. xo

  16. So much to say! First, this is by far my favorite look on the-loudmouth! this dress is amazing and i totally want to steal it from you.

    Secondly, I read your entire entry and I must say that it takes a ton of courage to write so openly about yourself, even on your own blog. I don't think that you would be in a relationship if you were doing "it" right...I think you might have to wait for the boys to catch up. You know they're not as mature as us ladies. But in the meantime, it would probably make you feel more at ease if you could find a happy medium between 'not enough' and 'too much'.

    But you, Stephanie, are awesome!

  17. I am so glad that shared this! It is hard for those who weren't teased to understand what it can do to you, and well being about quarter life crisis age and deciding to change everything I wanted to do in life I understand where you are coming from! You are amazing for sharing!

    You look beautiful as well! That dress is gorgeous!

  18. Love this post! And you do look pretty awesome for someone in a quarterlife crisis ;)

  19. great post (: and i can totally relate,
    though i'm still in my "very quiet, shy, not outspoken at all, it's me not them"-phase. just remember that this is something everybody goes through and overcomes, and so will you!
    xo, cheyenne

  20. Ive been wanting to open up on to my readers on my blog about what has been going on and my struggles. My past is really dark and I never know when to tell people about it. Sometimes I feel like I am living a lie because a lot of people do not know about what I ve been through. Not that anyone really asks me. Nevertheless, we relate and this is why I love you so much! you are honest and down to earth. This is an inspiration! I love where your blog is going!


  21. You give me hope.
    You give the awkward 15 year old girl I once was hope. Thank you for that.
    I hope one day I am able to share my hard years as an adolescent in such a inspiring way :)
    thank you for that.


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