So I stopped, took a step back, paused in my frantic scrolling through Pinterest and went and did something else. Things I was interested in. Stopped trying to get the 'real me' out of the depths of my psyche with a crowbar and left her to get on with it.
And it helped.
When I was a little girl, my mother tells me I had no interest at all in fashion. From my own memories, this isn't entirely true. I had no concept of being stylish, or even of looking acceptable in the eyes of my peers, but I had strong ideas of what I liked (flower patterns. Rainbow colours. Shiny fabric. People with bright-coloured hair. Dreadlocks. Things with ponies on. Some of these still hold true. Some do not. ;) ).
Then, growing up, I went through the hideous stage I think many of us do in secondary school - suddenly realising that I didn't 'fit'. I wore a baggy Green Day hoodie I had on loan from my friend Jade. My hair was cut short and bleached blonde (attempting to emulate Mary Stuart Masterson in the film Some Kind of Wonderful, which I watched approximately 1000 times when I was laid up on the couch with a neon-pink cast around my broken ankle, aged thirteen). I liked rock music and dance music and ripped jeans and obnoxious plastic earrings and shell jewellery and skate shoes and None Of This was acceptable to my classmates, who proceeded to make my life a living hell.
I left school very young, but the damage, as it were, was done (she turns up the melodrama). I had learned that the things I liked (weird clothes, Bleeding Edge Goth dolls and going to the bookshop after school with my friend Jade to buy manga and L.J. Smith books) were enough to make me unacceptable to others. Even in my Goth years, when I was thoroughly enjoying myself, I was aware that I had 'guilty pleasures', mostly musically. And yes, from time to time, I got slated for them.
I have always tried to cram myself into the 'right way' to do things according to however I was presenting myself at the time. So the most important step so far on my journey to feeling comfortable in my skin, life, and wardrobe, has been to seek out and embrace all the little, guilty, nerdy, secret pleasures I have stamped on and squashed and bring them into the light. To stop staring into my closet with a growing sense of horror and instead fling on the nearest, cleanest tee and jeans and go write something, draw something, cook something, go outside.
I'm not a schoolgirl now - I am a grown woman, and I can be a geek if I want to. I can listen to any music I want, and it's not a guilty pleasure, just a pleasure. I can get enthusiastic over the things that I REALLY like and know that my good friends like me AND my weirdness, even if the occasional acquaintance at the pub doesn't get me and thinks I'm a bit odd.
My life is bigger than how I look.