As many of you know (or those who really know me), I have spent the last 2 years committing to Fall semester in ONE Dress in which I wear the same dress every day in efforts to raise awareness for Human Trafficking, not only in the US – but in my home state of Ohio to show it hits so close to home.
These two pictures are from the second year I did it, which was a much more pleasant experience – but my first year, I was a sophomore in college whom had taken on many more roles than I could really handle.
It seems almost silly, but the dress was and will forever be so symbolic to me because for an entire semester, I felt like I knew what it was like to have no control over my life. Not only was I young & in college, I had lived on my own away from my family for 2 years, working 4 jobs, full-time college student at the university, and the most devastating part – I couldn’t pick out my outfit whenever I wanted to. In fact, I couldn’t at all. I was very lucky to know that my time in the dress would soon end (as many women & children don’t know when they will be safe from their pimps or slave masters) – I was definitely fortunate. I had attempted to collect donations and pledges as I wore the dress for over 100 days straight (by the way, yes – I washed it a couple times each week), but there came a point when I was so emotionally and mentally drained and I just wanted to wear sweat pants & a baggy t-shirt and roll out of bed to go to class.
The point here is I lived an entire semester without the choice to wear whatever I want or look however I wanted each day.
And here I am… my final Fall semester & I am not only abroad, but without my partner in crime, my One Dress. In times of discomfort and unfamiliarity, I admit that I really miss my dress.
Abroad in another country, thousands of miles away from anywhere even remotely familiar and I am silenced and left with no choice. I understand what is going on around me (with minor exceptions), but I am mute and my Spanish does not allow me to communicate effectively with almost anyone. As I am going into my third week, it is strengthening, but it has been a lonely feeling that I once experienced when I was in my dress but couldn’t get out – now I am in a foreign speaking country & cannot go home. When I realized that this wasn’t my first time feeling this empty feeling, I found comfort in pictures of my dress. I knew I had been here before & I know I can overcome it just like I did in the dress when the semester ended.
Saturday, everyone in my program admitted to having frustrations with being a foreigner and I was able to translate what the rude taxi driver shouted at my roommate because she, too was now able to see the language barrier that I thought I was the only one experiencing. I also found comfort there.
“Ships in harbor are safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
Ladies and gentlemen…this ship has sailed & this young woman is on it!
This post is near to my heart. Thanks for reading.
Written by Heather Messer, Social Media Journalist