Holland made the clothes he wore that day. He made his own pants and shirt. He didn’t need to. His parents make enough money to buy him fresh clothes. For his birthday, he made a request. He asked for a sewing machine and for the materials he had dreamed about.
He had the idea in his heart since his freshman year. He couldn’t identify its genesis with any precision, but somehow it had been instilled there. He thought of his grandmother, who had passed away when he was in elementary school. She had mentioned making clothes. Perhaps it came from there, or from the places on the internet that glorified do-it-yourself projects.
Holland was afraid to try, even though he wanted to do it. Sometimes the things he wanted were the things he was most nervous about trying. What if he didn’t like it, after he made the attempt? What if the clothes weren’t as nice as they looked in his dreams? Worse, what if people told him they looked bad?
One of his less comfortable fears was that the people at school would accuse him of being gay. It seemed like a gay thing, he thought: making his own clothes. Holland wasn’t gay, though. He liked girls. He didn’t have a problem with gay people, though, and so he felt frustrated at himself for fearing that people would label him as such. It meant that he had his own biases, ones that he didn’t like to process or recognize.
His birthday passed by in the summer, and he received the items he had requested, but still, he procrastinated on the actual crafting of the clothes he wanted to make. He had too strong of a fear that people would judge him, both for wanting to create them, and for the creations themselves. Holland feared someone would call them ugly or unfashionable.
It wasn’t until the final months of his senior year that Holland’s desire final overcame his doubts. He thought, “After the end of this year, I won’t see most of these people ever again.” The people he wouldn’t see again didn’t matter. The people he would see again wouldn’t fulfill his fears. They were his friends. They cared about him.
He made himself a pair of khaki pants, the inside of which he lined with bright plaid — lemon crossed with strawberry and sky blue. He sewed himself a button-down shirt, in sky blue to match the highlights in the lining of his pants, which showed in the pockets and at the cuffs.
It was his first time making anything, and perhaps he should have experimented and practiced first, but when he put the clothes on and they fit perfectly, he knew he had done something good for himself. When he donned them, that morning, he felt good. He looked good.
At school, he had a surprising revelation. Nobody noticed. Two of his friends complimented his outfit, and that was the extent of what anyone said. Nobody noticed that he’d made the clothes himself. He couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone, either, not even the friends who told him he looked nice.
He returned home feeling oddly disappointed. He should have been relieved, perhaps, that none of his fearful predictions had come to fruition. In a way, though, he had wanted someone to notice. That day, he realized: people don’t really mind what other people do. They don’t care unless it affects them. It was a freeing thought, even though he came to it in a moment of sadness. The next time he wore clothes that he had made, he did it with no fear.