By Cecelie Berry
I always wanted to be one of those "together" people. I thought the day would come when what I thought of as the exotic style words—panache, soigné—could readily apply to me. Witty badinage would fall from my lips like pearls before swine. I would even be a neat eater. Achieving perfection would free me to be the confident woman I longed to be. Then I'd be able to handle everything; I'd be on top of things and ahead of the game.
As I neared 40, I'd imagine myself swinging down the street sporting a snappy trenchcoat, carrying in a manicured hand a featherweight briefcase containing the essential gadgets of life—completely mastered and readily available—and then I'd pause in my reverie, put on my eyeglasses, and examine the caption beneath the picture in my mind's eye. It read, "Never gonna happen."
Oh, I have days when I wear and say the right thing, but those moments of poise still go toe-to-stubbed-toe with my gaffes. Life for me is always going to be haphazard, and I figure I'll never outfox it, so I'd better brave it instead. Ironically, knowing that I will make mistakes, that I will forgive myself and keep on trying, has given me the confidence I craved. When I was young, I thought confidence could be earned with perfection. Now I know that you don't earn it; you claim it. And you do that by loving the wacky, endlessly optimistic, enthusiastically uninhibited free spirit that is the essence of style, the quintessence of heart, and uniquely you.