It definitely wasn't the prettiest, warmest or at times the most practical, but it definitely was the most comfortable. There was a certain beauty to rolling out of bed ten minutes before you had to walk out the door, throwing on one of the same four identical jumpers over your pajamas, zipping it up and being on your way. Occasionally, there was the added hair bow in case your hair was especially un-brushed that day or a pair of tights if you couldn't find socks without a Nike logo on them.
But what was the point of all this? Why risk sliding down the sidewalk in the morning by wearing shoes that reached the height of fashion in the '50s and have exactly no traction. I can't tell you how many times I looked at a "Why We Love Our Uniform" sign and still found myself questioning why I had to wear a peter pan collar and color-coded name tag every day. I was always told we wore our uniform because it brought us all together while taking away distractions outside of academics. However, the true beauty of hindsight is that once I stopped sporting my "true blue" jumper, saddle shoes and blazer every day I became even more thankful for what I learned by wearing them.
The Peter Pan Collar
A bright white collar with two curves meeting in the middle taught me that no matter the curves life may throw at me, there's always a way to center myself. Most of the time, like the two big curves, there are two extreme sides to a situation, but humbling yourself by meeting in the middle is often where you will find yourself the most.
The Rolled-Up Sleeves
Crisp and folded just below our shoulders, the sleeves were a reminder that even those things that we expect to run most smoothly can be messed up sometimes. Every once and a while your sleeve will come unfolded or something you planned so carefully will unravel one way or another. The best thing to do in these times is fix it as best we can and move on.
Running from our waists all the way up to the bottom of our necks our zippers are a reminder that there is always more to be done. In order to completely zip-up our jumpers we needed to start with one hand and finish with the other. The same is true with whatever we may put our minds to. If we truly want it to be done to the best of our abilities we must be as thorough as possible, leaving no track uncovered ourselves or not being afraid to call on a friend for help pulling everything together when we really need it.
Although two loose strings dangle at our sides when we first put on our uniform, tying them in a bow at our back reminds us how everything comes full circle. What goes around will always come back around eventually so we should always treat others with respect despite any differences we may have.
Sewn in from the hem to the belt our crisp pleats teach us the importance of discipline. Sometimes life calls for exactness and we must always refuse to cut corners. Our pleats are stitched into our uniform in exact increments to remind us to always put our best and most polished efforts forward.
The White Crew Socks
After a certain amount of time, our socks always seemed to get holes in them. In the same way, after years of the same routine life can wear you down. Never be afraid of change and switching up your goals, habits or opinions. Always remember that every once in a while even though you can't change your type of socks you could always just wear tights instead. Be innovative and never settle.
The Saddle Shoes
Stiff at first and becoming more comfortable the longer they are worn, our saddle shoes are a reminder that every adjustment takes time. The more you dive in and expose yourself to something new the faster you become comfortable with it. In the same way, the longer you wear your saddles the more they fit specifically for you.
Although it is unique to upper-level students, my blazer was a reminder of the privilege it was to receive such a substantial education. Sported during important events or visitors it was a reminder of all of the amazing resources at my fingertips. Every time I put on my blazer I experienced something unique to my school. Seeing pictures of my friends and I wearing them in the past is a reminder of the obligations we have to use the knowledge and resources we were gifted with to make an impact on the world.
The Blazer Pins
It was not so much the pins that I wore on my own blazer, but the ones that decorated the coats of everyone else that taught me something. Yes, we should take pride in our own accomplishments, but recognizing the accomplishments of others may be even more important. Whether it's a "thank-you" or a small "congrats" you could make someone's entire day by recognizing her achievement. While celebrating our own successes we should not forget those of others or the contributions of the community or individuals that helped us achieve in the first place.
The Bright Red Name Tag
Not only was my bright red name tag special to me because it connected each of the members of the Class of 2015 in a special way, it taught me the importance of responsibility. At the time, remembering to put on a plastic pin bearing my name seemed ridiculous, especially at a school so small everyone already knew who I was. In hindsight, it wasn't the name tag itself that taught me something important. Remembering to take my name tag on and off every day taught me the significance of honoring even the smallest of obligations. Sometimes the details really do matter and what we view as unimportant can mean the world to someone else.