Wear something you feel magical in. I read the invitation once more before blankly staring at my closet. Weeks away from graduating with my master’s degree, I was feeling physically exhausted and emotionally drained. There was very little I was feeling magical in, aside from, of course, my bed.
In just over an hour, regardless of how much magic I was feeling, I’d be attending a small dinner party to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday. My friends so often celebrate with intention, and I love that about them. Katie knew she wanted to feel magical when celebrating her birthday, and she wanted her closest friends to join her in that feeling. So, putting my final papers and study sessions aside, I was going to adorn myself in magic for the evening.
The most obvious clothing that screamed magical to me was something flashy. Sequins or rhinestones? A tulle skirt, maybe? I did not, however, feel very flashy. I felt overwhelmed with schoolwork and underprepared to celebrate my friend. After several more staring contests with my closet, I finally waved the white flag. There would be no sequins and no tulle. That look might be magic for another time, but not tonight.
An hour later I stepped onto a beautifully decorated porch for a candlelit dinner with a small group of people who were all dressed in their most magical attire. There were skirts and dresses, sequins and ties—and then there was me. I immediately began second-guessing my outfit choice as I picked up a glass of champagne wearing my most comfortable jeans and an oversized flannel jacket.
The heavy blue and beige flannel jacket had belonged to my late grandfather. I had seen it in his closet when visiting his Pennsylvania home for his funeral and my Grandma offered it to me. I don’t necessarily remember him wearing it all that often, but knowing it was his made me feel like I was wrapped in his embrace, and that was all the magic I needed most days. It wasn’t, however, very pleasing to the eye, so I found myself feeling the need to explain to every partygoer that I did, in fact, read the directions on the invitation and followed them closely. It’s just that on this night in late May, well-worn clothes handed down from previous generations in my family felt much more magical than a glittery dress.
I soon found myself reverting back to a younger and more insecure version of myself. It was the me who was scared to be me. Whenever I’d attend a social gathering in the past, I assumed I needed to be flashy even if I wasn’t feeling flashy, or funny even if I wasn’t feeling funny. I had to stand out, make noise, and turn heads, and I knew that my authenticity and flannel jacket wouldn’t be enough to do that.
I felt I had to be the life of the party because who would be interested in me, just as I am?
The gathering was small enough that I couldn’t duck out without being noticed, so I stayed. I talked with friends who were wearing sequins on their clothes and flowers in their hair, and I celebrated my dear friend. We sat around the beautiful table as dusk fell on Seattle, each in our own kind of magic, laughing and toasting to our friend’s most recent trip around the sun.
Eventually, I forgot about how out of place I had felt because, it turns out, I wasn’t out of place at all. I dressed in my version of magic that night, not someone else’s—and that’s what mattered. I left my friend’s party with a full heart, knowing that all I need to bring to any party is my most authentic self.
I can be magical in sequins or flannel, as long as I’m being true to who God made me to be. Whether I’m feeling overwhelmed and underprepared or flashy and funny, I can bring life to the party without having to be the life of the party. Sometimes magic is threadbare and easy to overlook. It’s as deep and complex as the love and memories passed through generations. I think that’s what God’s kingdom is like: there’s magic everywhere, even in the most unassuming places.
What do you feel magical in today? Own it. Be you, just as you are, and let’s party.
Mallory Redmond embraces anomalies–she is an adventure-loving homebody who keeps a clean house yet always makes a mess whenever eating or brushing her teeth. She loves dry humor, clean sheets, and gathering around the table with friends. Mallory and her husband, Darren, live in Ohio with their beagle, Roger, and [soon!] their first child. You can follow her writing here, where her stories are told with the hope of further uncovering the places of connection in our humanity.
“I wasn’t out of place at all. I dressed in my version of magic that night, not someone else’s—and that’s what mattered.” I love the fact that you were feeling most magical as YOU. It takes courage and maturity to be our own authentic, God created selves. I’m proud of you! Thank you for writing this, Mallory.
I think you must be a very good friend, Mallory, and that is magical too! Thanks for this important message.
Thank you, Mallory, for putting in words and images what we all seem to wrestle with. I love what you said about bringing life (your life) to the party without having to be the life of the party. And I like that you came wrapped in your Grandpa’s embrace. After all, love is magical!
Loved this so much, Mallory. Thank you for sharing, and for the invitation to show up as I am.
I was with you each step of your story. Thank you for sharing. I felt your sorrow of not having time to stress with all your school work and I felt your uncomfortable feelings when you saw friends in sequins next to your flannel shirt. I am grateful you ended up feeling “in your skin” great. I hope that you had people ask you about your flannel shirt. How wonderful to feel your grandfather’s arms in his beige flannel jacket. I loved this, Mallory.