To be frankly honest, this is something that I have struggled with since graduating college and moving to the Washington, DC area. I may have grown up for the most part in the here and moved back to the area after college, yet I don’t feel like I fully fit the mold of what the “typical” Washingtonian is. I kind of feel like I live in a sea of Washingtonians and stand out like a flamingo in a flock of pigeons. While I have always stood out in my own way and prided myself on it, it is something that I see as an adjustment coming from one in a million of preppy, driven, and bubbly young women in my all-women’s college undergraduate years at Meredith College. Needless to say, I have felt (and still do) feel a lot of culture shock and, thus, less of an ordinary Washingtonian but rather an extraordinary flamingo-like Washingtonian.
When I went to college at an all-women’s college down in Raleigh, North Carolina, I was surrounded by friendly women who also have a preppy fashion flair (not all but a lot do!). Everyone was driven and I was always admiring my classmates’ styles, drive, and kindness. Not many of us were interested in the nightlife and party scene. Indeed, I only went to ONE party on Halloween night my Freshmen year of college and said NEVER AGAIN (it’s a BIG YIKES!!!! from me). We all preferred to be at home by 10-11pm on any given night and would rather drive a glass of wine at home then staying out drinking shots til last call. The latest we would stay out was 1am when we decided to be adventurous and go to the club or karaoke night at a nearby bar, and MAYBE, a Waffle House run on the weekends. During my Meredith College days, we never really went out much into the nightlife scene and I have been OKAY with it and, more importantly, CONTENT with it. I knew right away that it wasn’t for me (and, well it took longer for me to accept) and I knew that that was OKAY.
As I got out of college, my interest in nightlife honestly diminished. I would rather stay at home with a glass of wine or go out for dinner than be in a crowded bar on any given night. On the flip side, a lot of folks my age around me go out practically every night. To me, the typical Washingtonian around my age is out on the town multiple nights of the week enjoying drinks til last call or pregaming at friend’s apartments. Washington, DC is definitely a city that likes to party! Many of them live in Washington, DC itself or in nearby Arlington, Virginia or Alexandria, Virginia. I am the exact opposite of that all. I live in the suburbs of Fairfax Station, Virginia and prefer to stay in many nights than not. Many of my peers’ interests differ drastically from my own. And, while I appreciate many of my peers and coworkers that I have met with different out-of-work interests than me, I just know that it is not for me. At the same time, I do appreciate that those around me who do enjoy the regular nightlife scene are able to enjoy it together. And, neither does that make me or anyone else any less of a Washingtonian (this is something I have HONESTLY struggled with A LOT in recent times). It, indeed, makes us unique and special within our own communities.
When it comes to fashion, the wardrobes of Washingtonians is perhaps very neutral. Ann Taylor/LOFT and Zara take the reigns of the city’s streets. Neutrals and toned down colors always. I, on the other hand, am a flamingo when it comes to my fashion choices. I dress like a Southerner at heart – Lilly Pulitzer, Crown & Ivy at Belk, J Crew, and Kate Spade are my FAVORITES. I truly pride on my bright, colorful preppy fashion sense, too. Back in April, I went to an Early Career Professionals event at my company and was the ONLY one dressed in bright color (well, besides my good friend and fellow coworker Katherine!!) and it was a very proud moment for us BOTH. And, in December, I showed up to a Christmas Party in an emerald green velvet gown (ONLY one in something floor length!) and felt like a Queen that I am. On many times, I go to my local church with my Papa to keep him company and get told that I am our church’s own princess! People bring up my iconic outfits day in and day out. I love that my clothing brings positivity to those around me, too, whether it be in a typical Washingtonian sense or perhaps an extraordinary, flamingo-like sense.
In my life, I have NEVER wanted to do things the ordinary way. I wanted to go to the beat of my own drums. In middle and high school, it may not have suited me well, but I’m proud of myself for always standing my own ground during those years and to this very second. Nowadays, with the explosion of social media micro-influencers like myself in ALL niches, we are able to find ourselves in those around us EVEN if they are miles and miles and miles away. We can, perhaps, find ourselves and relatable content to our own interests in the micro-influencers of our world. We can find friends, community, and much more. I have *even* found some similar-to-me preppy fashion loving friends in the Washington, DC area (!!!) – a BIG shoutout to Stephanie of @slythestylist and Eunah of @annyoneunah on this one and many more! And, most importantly, we can make OUR OWN communities for ourselves. We can, rather, find ourselves ALL as atypical and look beyond what feels to be “typical” to us and those around us.
The other day, I was talking to my best friend Shivani and told her “I don’t feel like the typical Washingtonian!!!” And, well, she had the BESTT response: “why even try? You don’t HAVE to be.” And, that is true for us all, why try to be something that we’re not. Just be you, be content, and do what makes YOU happy, whether or not that includes enjoying nights out on the town or cozy nights in or wearing t-shirts and sweats everyday or dresses. Shivani, this one’s for you!!! <3
XOXO – Katie <3