on style, identity, and torn Prada boots

I went to a wealthy, private university in the same not-as-wealthy surrounding town that I grew up in. In the midst of wearing striped Forever 21 tops and college logo sweatshirts with leggings, I had bought myself an $800 dollar pair of Prada boots (on sale) over that first winter break. When I didn’t have a sense of style, I wanted to wear something that had at least something to sayeven if it was only to ask, “I fit in here, too, right?” A tall, calf-length booth with buttery, burgundy-tinted brown leather, topped off with a gold-plated Prada emblem at the top of each boot – this will do. To drive my point home, I wore these with my full knee brace and crutches following a recent knee surgery. This must have been a chaotic time in terms of identity – after all, why did I insist on wearing these boots? I distinctly remember a new friend (today, a very close friend) holding my arm after class as I walked hesitantly across ice in these luxury boots with no traction – the left partially covered still by my knee brace. Later that month, on a Saturday morning in a crowded parking lot, those same boots would be torn as I crawled through the rear hatch of my hand-me-down ’97 Camaro; both the driver and passenger side doors had been frozen shut (thanks to a northern Indiana winter) and I didn’t have the patience to be kept from enjoying IHOP pancakes, even in my torn Prada boots. Eventually, I would learn that the crowd that will stay behind to help you across the ice in your silly boots, is also the crowd that is no further impressed or dismayed by them. That style should be to express who you are, and not necessarily what you’re worth; and that, if you feel the need to express what you’re worth, then maybe there’s some more evaluations to be had on where your identity is centered as with that of the people around you.

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