Every person holds a thousand stories
Sam was in a number of my classes. Born in Sri Lanka, she’d immigrated to Canada a few years back. Her name was much longer than Sam, but she’d sorted it to its first three letters. Some days she wore traditional clothes, while others, she’d come wearing high waisted jeans and a white button shirt. She was a “know-it-all”: studious and competitive. And we used to sit together in one of my Fashion classes.
One morning, things changed. Sam came to school wearing a lilac shade of lipstick, a see-through white lace body underneath you could pretty much see her bra, and lower waisted jeans. Her hair, instead of being held in the typical pony tail she usually wore, was loose.
We all looked at her in shock. And she noticed. She sat proudly next to me in silence and, after a few seconds, she asked:
-So… aren’t you going to say anything?
-Of what? –I replied, trying to pretend as if nothing was going on.
-About my clothes!
-What about your clothes? –I said, trying to sound indifferent.
-I chose it.
A few seconds went by. I didn’t ask her anything but didn’t really know what she meant.
-It’s my birthday! I turn 18 today. And for the first time in my life, my parents let me choose what to wear.
-Oh – I replied.
Full of silly teenage pride, I didn’t say anything else. But that morning I learned that she was different from the girl I imagined. That, while portraying herself as conservative, serious and competitive, she had a thousand dreams and wanted to be one more of us; she wanted to have fun; she wanted to dare.
On that day, I learned that every person holds a thousand stories and a thousand reasons to be how they are; that we should try not to judge each other. And, once again, I saw the significant role clothing and style play.
Sam went back to dressing the way she used to, although, once in a while, she’d show up in school with her semi see-through top. I never really learned what made her dress one way or the other. But, although she kept asking the same way, I made sure I listened to what she had to say.