(original image source unknown; some editing done by me)
About two weeks ago, Miss Brienna Di'ane contributed her learned advice on conflict resolution. Her words were so inspiring that another one of my friends, Miss Jola, thought it would be a good idea to address something just as important---internal conflict. External conflict, conflict between two or more people, is started by unease, sadness, anger, or dissatisfaction within the self. Thus, if the conflict internal can be resolved, there may not have to be a conflict external. Jola describes her thoughts equally inspiringly and eloquently here...
This series of guest-posts have been about conflict resolution in Lolita, and I’d like to talk about something a bit tangential – resolving the conflicts within ourselves and finding happiness in Lolita.
I can’t tell you how to let go of fear and let go of self-consciousness, I wish I had all the answers to that myself. But there are steps that you can take to being more fearless, to being more open to taking risks, to finding that joy that comes from really experiencing this wonderful fashion.
1. Accepting. Accept that not everyone will like you and that you will never be a "perfect Lolita" in everyone's eyes including your own. It seems obvious, but if we are honest with ourselves, we probably all unconsciously think along these lines occasionally "if only i get every item in that AP set i will look like one of those perfect lolis in the AP spreads in Kera!" or "if i learn how to pose and get that amazing wig i'll get so many complements for once when I post to D_L". So when we get that coveted ring set or wig and we don't feel loved or perfect we feel disappointed. Accept your limitations, if you are 6' 2", you will not look just like a petite girl; don't expect to. The most poplar lolis have people that think they are ugly; don't expect to be the exception. Accept the limitations you can do little about, especially about other people's opinions. While it's tempting to think you can change people's opinions about you, it's a mirage that you will just keep on chasing until you are exhausted.
2. Goal setting. If you want to be happy while in Lolita, determine what makes you happy and work towards that. Keep #1 in mind! you have to set REALISTIC goals for yourself or you will only depress yourself when you don't reach them. If you know what you want to be getting out of Lolita but you aren't DOING anything to get those things, how do you expect to achieve your goals?
Let's say that I know that sharing my photos makes me happy, and I want to figure out how to take better photos. Now that I have identified what makes me happy and what I need to do to be more happy in Lolita, how do I go about it? I might want to critically assess my old photos and decide what else I could be doing. More varied poses, better backgrounds, props, more attention to detail like hairstyling or nail art? Think about what people in the past have complemented you on; play up your strengths and try and learn how to fix some of your problem areas.
Maybe you want to make Lolita friends to be more happy and satisfied as a Lolita. Find your local community; make sure you go to meet-ups and try to talk to one or two people each time you go. Don't be discouraged, it might take a few tries, sometimes you have to wait to get your foot in the door, (especially in Lolita groups where there are several groups of close friends); keep making positive strides towards your goals.
3. Reassessing. Now that you have made a few steps towards reaching your goals, assess how it feels. In other words, do you really want what you wanted when you started? Maybe I thought at first what I wanted was to be the life of the party and the center of attention, but once I'd gotten a taste of it I found myself somehow more anxious and more uncomfortable. Should I go on forcing myself to be more outgoing? Maybe it's time to reassess if what I'm doing is making me more or less happy. You will be surprised how often you reach a goal just to find that it did not quite live up to your expectations. Take a look at other areas of your life and see what makes you happy; perhaps it's time to set different goals and take steps to reach those. Then reassess again!
4. Prioritization. By the time you reach the Prioritization stage you will have been around Lolita for a while. You will have probably posted a few pictures of yourself online, you will have seen/heard local drama, maybe even gotten swept up in it yourself. Maybe you have been posted to a wank site. Now it's time for you to take a long, dispassionate look at what you are doing, how you are doing it, how other people see you, and how you see yourself. The most important is how you see yourself.
Have you been trying so hard to reach your goals that you lost sight of who you are and what makes you happy? Have you been working so hard on saying the right things and wearing the right things that other people find you stiff, cold and unapproachable? Look at the total experience you have had with Lolita; are you becoming a better person as well as a better Lolita? You have to love yourself and be proud of yourself first of all. Once you have your own approval, other people's will matter less and less.
Don't completely discount how other people feel about you, however; maybe they have a point. Do other lolis occasionally comment on your pics saying you would look amazing "other than ____" or "if not for ____"? Don't assume they are just jealous or catty, they may have a point that will help you look and feel better as a lolita if you take their well intentioned critique to heart. Yet, you also can't take every bit of advice; prioritize which it makes sense for you to take.
Does your significant other feel like Lolita has taken over your life and you don't do things together anymore? Are your friends saying you are "different" in more ways than just the way you dress? These are clues that you are trying too hard to be some sort of Lolita ideal that does not exist. You can be yourself and be a good Lolita; don't lose sight of who you are and what is important.
When you re-reassess, think of when you are most happy in Lolita. Maybe you are most happy when you are in a small group. (Change your goals! Go to more of the smaller meets.) Maybe you are more relaxed when you wear a wig because you don't stress about your hair. (Goal! Find a nice wig!) Et cetera.
Remember #1--accepting. Accept who you are and work on the things you can work on, but not to the extent that you lose the sense of fun and excitement that got you into lolita.
6. Balance. Don't make lolita your life, even if you are a lifestyle Lolita. Lolita is a part of you, it's one facet of a remarkable and varied personality, but it is not ALL that you are. The more other interests and hobbies you have in your life, the less you will care about some silly internet drama or some girl on some site that thinks your makeup is boring. If Lolita is too much of a part of your life, the importance of these things will seem much greater than they should be.
Go out and do non-lolita things. Do non-stereotypically Lolita things in your frills. ENJOY. Now I’m not advocating being a “special snowflake.” You do have to have standards for yourself as a Lolita, but when you prioritize and balance properly, you can satisfy a lot of the rules of Lolita and keep a lot of yourself and your personality blended into a harmonious whole.
Maybe you'll be one of those Lolitas that doesn't go to meet-ups and only dresses up in the house but takes lot of pictures. Maybe you'll be one of those Lolitas that never wears a blouse and never takes photos. Maybe you'll be one of those lolitas that goes to every meet-up and is loud and laughs at everything. When you find out who you want to be, are the best Loli you can be, and find that balance between Loli and non-Loli, you'll be the best kind of Lolita--a happy one :)