Freedom To Be Myself

An elderly man walked past me. He wore a red, white, and blue button-up shirt, resembling the American flag.

“Nice shirt!” I said. “You’re ready to celebrate the Fourth of July!”

 That’s not the first time I’ve complimented a senior citizen on his appearance. Living near a retirement community, I’ve seen the freedom that comes with age.

Men grow a white ponytail. Women stop dying their roots. Fingernail polish gets redder. Their clothes have more color, more bling.

I envy them.

These retirees aren’t eccentric. They’re finally old enough (if I may stereotype) to not worry about other people’s opinions. They own the freedom to be themselves.

We talk about individualism in America, but magazines and television shows spend millions of dollars, telling me what to wear and how to decorate my home.

Does the Marketing Industry Define Me?

Peer pressure first surfaced when I was nine years old. If I wanted to be “cool” like my female classmates, I had to own white Go-Go Boots.

Even now, the fashion industry dictates the length of my skirt. Every year styles change so I’m always at their mercy. Do I tuck in my shirt? Is my blazer supposed to be shorter or longer than my blouse? Am I wearing Stiletto or wedge high heels?

Our first “cool” home had yellow shag carpet and olive green kitchen appliances. Six years later, my kitchen had country blue wallpaper with geese. We moved often, so each time I decorated according to the trend.

However, I’ve lived in this house thirteen years. At some point, without my knowledge, someone decided the valances on my window are passé.

Excuse me, I like valances.

And I want the freedom to be me.

So here’s my secret for those, regardless of age, who fret about fashion and home décor.

When my nose is in the Bible, my eyes on Christ, I’m less self-conscious or insecure.

My focus shifts from the valances to the people in my life.

I’d rather phone a friend and listen to her heart than hear someone tell me I NEED the latest gadget.

 “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.” (Col 3:2)

So this Fourth of July, or Thanksgiving for that matter, I might wear a red, white, and blue button-up shirt, resembling the American flag.

I just have one question.

Should I tuck in my shirt?