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One of my favorite parts of growing up was picking out my wardrobe. My colorful closet consisted of skirts, tights, patterned dresses, funky shoes, and a surplus of headbands and bows. Innocent and oblivious, I was constantly putting outfits together that didn’t always match or make sense—think leggings under jean shorts. Questionable fashion choices aside, styling myself was my outlet for creativity and expression. It was the summer of 2011 when I had to say goodbye to my vibrant clothing and hello to my brown and blue camp uniform.

I spent seven weeks slipping on the same cotton tee-shirt and shorts every day, alongside dozens of girls dressed alike. To my surprise, my fears of becoming bored and lacking creativity slowly faded. Although the uniform was by no means the most fashion forward, I found beauty in it. Wearing the same outfit as my peers allowed me to focus not on the clothing, but the people behind it. Labels, brands, and any opportunity for judgement was eliminated. I didn’t have to think about what I wore each day, and that became something I valued.

Don’t get me wrong—I found little ways to be unique, and took advantage of every chance I had to ditch the uniform. On average days, I adorned myself with string bracelets and braided hairstyles, and on dress-down nights, I couldn’t wait to craft an outfit with total freedom. I even found that wearing my uniform so often made my non-uniform moments all the more special and exciting.

When I returned home at the end of the summer, I realized how many uniforms surrounded me in the real world. Beyond the firefighters, doctors, private school students, military members, and professionals, I noticed that many people in my life had their own uniform of sorts. My mom lived in her workout clothes, my best friend in her jeans and white tee. Steve Jobs, known for his signature black turtleneck, jeans, and trainers, said: “When you wear something that just feels right, you are confident. And it is also great to have a trademark look. It makes you memorable and distinctive.”

Today, my closet houses both basics and pops of color. When I’m running late to class, my “college uniform” of sweats and hoodies works in a pinch; when I have time to get ready, I revert back to my seven year old self and get inventive with tints and textures. Dressing yourself is one of the great joys in life and, as you experiment and get older, you may even find your very own personal uniform.

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