Why I No Longer Worry About Having a Personal Style

by Gretchen Rubin
Originally Published: 

Now I choose clothes that I like and that are appropriate; I don’t worry about whether they’re “me.” I want our apartment to be comfortable, attractive, and functional; I don’t concern myself with whether it expresses “my unique style.” I stopped thinking much about my tastes because it wasn’t a question that captured my interest.

I finally realized that all I do, all day long, is express myself in a way that does interest me—through writing—and that is enough. I don’t have to worry about the look of my shoes or my curtains if I don’t want to.

I don’t want to overthink making authentic choices about things I don’t authentically care about.

I know so many people who find great pleasure in making careful choices—who really know what they like and enjoy taking the time to find the things they love. But it’s a Secret of Adulthood: Just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t mean it’s fun for me, and vice versa.

I don’t want to think too much about making authentic choices about things I don’t authentically care about. Life is too short. In fact, social psychologist Roy Baumeister suggests we pay a price for seeking to be “authentic.” In a world so full of choices, choosing actively and deliberately among alternatives demands considerable mental energy that then can’t be used for other tasks.

Here’s the strange thing: at the same time that I decided to let go of the idea of “expressing my personal style,” I was also thinking a lot about my personal commandment to Be Gretchen. In my mind, these similar-sounding ideas were actually very different. But ironically, perhaps, now that I’ve spent a lot of time trying to “Be Gretchen,” I have a much better idea of my personal style.

I’m still not much interested in doing the work it would take to have my tastes reflected in my stuff, but I do have a much better sense of what my tastes are. For instance, lately I’ve been reading about Louis Comfort Tiffany’s masterpiece, Laurelton Hall. That, I know I love.

To read more by Gretchen Rubin, visit her site.

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