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First impressions are exhausting

Jessica Downey

Coffee addict. The serial single girl. Jessica will give you the what’s what on single life and dating in Chicago.

My niece and nephew came for a little visit this past weekend. We planned to go to the Museum of Science and Industry and the Lincoln Park Zoo. As we were getting ready to go on Saturday, my niece picked out what she wanted to wear. She chose a pair of black leggings with a pink and black striped sweater dress mainly because I was wearing black leggings and a black dress and she loves to wear outfits that match what I am wearing. She also decided that she wanted to wear the socks that I bought her when I was in NYC.

I bought the socks at a store called LittleMissMatched that I stumbled upon while wandering in NYC. The store has all kinds of things (socks, bags, flip flops, boots etc) that are in mismatched patterns. I should have taken a picture of the exact outfit my niece had on, but here is the exact set I purchased:


So picture those on my niece, pulled up to her knees with the leggings and the striped sweater dress as she's bopping all over Chicago. She also wore them the next day on the way back to Indiana - this time with a black tutu skirt which had sparkles and glitter all over it. It was so much that when my brother-in-law picked her up he turned to my sister and asked what the heck she was wearing.
It was quite a sight but she looked adorable. Plus if you know my niece you know that this sort of thing totally fits her personality. She likes to have each of her nails painted a different color, though she strategically plans each color. Hey we don't call her punky (as in Punky Brewster) for nothing. Though, the girl is only six and you can still get away with so much at the age of six.

The important thing that I noticed is that my niece didn't even stop for a second to think about wearing those socks. She didn't wonder if those socks really went with her outfit. She didn't think about what anyone else would think of her socks or care if people looked at her funny. She just thought they were fun and loved that her Aunt Jess bought them for her so she wanted to wear them.

In short, she didn't care about what impression she was making on people. Actually I am pretty sure she didn't even think about it. She is just being who she is.

As we get older, this idea of not caring sort of fades away and then when we are adults suddenly all we care about are the impressions we make. This is something that is true in far too many circumstances including dating. And it's something that I am far too guilty of.

Before I go on a date, I worry about how I should do my hair and my makeup. I also plan out the right outfit and make sure to have the right shoes. After all, it would be a shame to meet the perfect man without the perfect shoes, right?

During the date I always worry about what the guy is thinking about me. I am always afraid that I have food in my teeth or that I might drop something on myself (that's why God invented black right?). Oh and I also worry about falling and spilling. Those are the things that make me feel uncomfortable and I fear it might leave a bad impression. Actually, that stuff can be down right embarrassing. I am pretty sure the only things my niece is embarrassed about is when my sister and I tease her for having Bieber Fever or when she has to change in front of her brother.

The problem is that sometimes those things prevent me from just being me. I am so caught up in all the things that I am afraid of that it makes it hard to let loose and just have a good time. And I think I get a little too caught up in the fear that people won't accept me.

Funny thing is - I can't recall a single time any of those things have happened on a date where I haven't recovered. Actually, those things rarely even happen on a date.

Clearly I know that I will never be a six-year-old again and there are many things that I love about being an adult. I mean I love living alone and not having to ask permission for things. And I love that I can stay up as late as I want and eat ice cream for dinner if I really want to. I just really miss those moments of not caring what anyone else thinks of me and being comfortable in my own skin. Those moments where I don't care if I am too fat or too skinny or what my clothes look like. Actually, I just miss those moments where I don't even think about any of that stuff. It was a simpler time and a hell of a lot more fun.

So, next time I have a date, I am going to think about this weekend with my niece. And while I am sure I won't wear crazy socks with a sparkly tutu, I'm going to remember the principles - that I should just be who I am. After all, let's face it, shit happens and it's usually shit that's beyond your control.




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1 Comment

Leah said:


What great insights :) Children are so amazing and just don't care about anything. If only we all felt that way!

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