Models enjoying the summer sun (or the studio lighting perhaps)
Yesterday, some clothes I had ordered online arrived. I took the clothes out of their packaging and inspected them. Up until that point, I had only ever seen the clothes on someone else - specifically, a model on the ASOS website. But there they were in my hands, my new t-shirt and jeans.

Quickly, I put them on and inspected myself in the mirror. The jeans were much slimmer than any other jeans I had ever bought - slimmer than they looked in the photos. I thought it must have been quite late at night when I clicked that Add to Basket button. I must have been in a hurry to get to bed. My legs are really skinny as they are, so I ordinarily don't go for the jeans that hug them so tightly, in case they look like they'll snap like breadsticks.

I soon saw that these were the kind of jeans where you're supposed to roll the bottoms of the legs up into a kind of "indie" cuff style. Again, I didn't remember deciding that I wanted that sort of fashion statement on my jeans. It must have been pretty late. The more I thought about it, the more I realised how little I remembered about my decision-making process when I chose those jeans. I managed to recall that it was pretty late in the sales - much of what I had already looked through was sold out in my size. I had been looking for quite some time until I finally found this pair... I couldn't remember much more than that.

As I rolled the bottoms up into neat cuffs, I noticed for the first time some writing in cream italics on the backs of the legs, just above the cuffs. I definitely didn't know that was on my jeans! The words were different on either leg. On one leg, it said, "Live fast," and on the other it said, "Be free."

Liquor N Poker Jeans from
"Live fast" and "Be free"
Will the passerby think that that's what I recommend
to them, or think that they are slogans that I live by?
These messages are not me at all!

I inspected myself in front of the mirror once again. I moved around, positioning and re-positioning myself, putting my hands in my pockets and then taking them out again, doing this for quite some time, fascinated by the sight of myself in this strange new look.

I am in a period of time in my life that I sense is very formative. I am thinking about who I want to be, and how I want to portray myself. I think about it a lot when I am on clinical placement doing my medical degree. I am aware of the weight of expectation on my shoulders - the expectation to grow into the role of a doctor, grow into a leader, grow into what people want a doctor to be - at least when I'm at work. 

And I felt a bit self-conscious walking to the library today with "Live fast" and "Be free" peeking out above my cuffs, where I couldn't see them, but whoever was behind me might have, and with such skinny jeans on, complete with some clothes that I do often wear - my suede brogues and Harrington jacket. I was aware that I looked more like a hipster than I normally do. But I also thought that perhaps this was only a slight progression from my normal clothing choices. It occurred to me that I might already have a brand, a way I normally portray myself, and that I consciously protect. It occurred to me that I might not look miles different to what I normally look like; that only I knew that this was an aberrant choice of mine; that perhaps this was how people were already perceiving me.

And I change. This is a period in my life when I am learning about what I like and what I don't like. I am deciding what to pursue and what to drop. I am deciding what my brand will be. Actually, I think I overstate my own autonomy - I can't portray myself as whatever image I conceive in my mind. Rather, I am discovering my brand, and I think that what I eventually settle on will be okay.

Nevertheless, on the walk back from the library, I rolled the cuffs up one more time, covering up the writing. The jeans felt more comfortable already.