Displaying an ornate belt buckle has changed my life

Purchasing a belt buckle gives me the confidence to succeed

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Displaying an ornate belt buckle has changed my life

Joe McClain, JagWire reporter and photographer

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Everywhere I go, whether it be in school or out in public, my unique belt buckle draws the gaze of many passersby. About five months ago, whilst I was in the hills of West Virginia, I spent $20 on said belt buckle.

I was drawn to the belt buckle because I found the combination of a 100 percent genuine leather belt and a brass buckle to be a match made in heaven.  The belt buckle makes me more confident because of its uniqueness and addition to my already great physical appearance.

I love the way the buttery soft leather contrasts with the intricate carving of the buckle’s face.  Brass pine trees line the meticulously engraved New River Gorge, with the iconic New River Gorge Bridge spanning the valley. Several silhouetted figures, representing activities done in West Virginia, line the buckle, the most notable being the kayaker, whom I have named Yolanda.

This belt announces my presence like a Jolly Roger flag on a pirate ship. If I were a king, I would use the buckle as a stamp for my wax seals on important proclamations. If “the apparel oft proclaims the man,” as Shakespeare wrote in “Hamlet,” my belt buckle might describe me as adventurous and a little off the beaten path.

A study conducted by the University of Iowa found that on average, a high-confidence group of students performed better than a low-confidence group on the same test, despite the same level of education. Evidently,  even an average Joe can benefit from a boost of confidence when facing an exam or other personal challenges.

Similar to this study, I also noticed a connection between self confidence and academic success. I commonly wear my belt buckle on test days to use that confidence to my advantage. Though I have not seen any actual improvement, I like to think my belt buckle helps me on my exams.

The buckle is a reminder of my summer vacation, when I camped in the wild for six days. The camping trip was very rigorous and rainy, but I pushed through it and finished the trip with a token of my hardships: the belt buckle.  

Knowing that I survived the challenges of the West Virginian wilderness makes the common tasks of school seem much more manageable. Wearing such a profound relic improves my life by giving me confidence, adding to my physical appearance and allowing me to express myself.

Today’s teens are surrounded by fashion advice. If you attended Mill Valley’s recent production of “Hello, Dolly!” Cornelius and Barnaby recommend you “put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out.” It turns out, they were right: dressing in your favorite finery really does build confidence. From the Romans bedecking their armor with jewels to businessmen wearing power ties, humans have always seen the psychological advantages of elaborate dress.

On the flipside, it’s important that you choose your own fashions, because if you are not comfortable, your confidence may suffer. No one wants to come to school feeling like their momma has dressed them up funny. Garnished attire not only gives me a confidence boost, but also makes me look good.

Even an average Joe can benefit from a boost of confidence.”

— Joe McClain

I also have confidence because this belt buckle is very reliable. Few things in life are certain, but I know that I can count on my belt to hold my pants up throughout the day, and in an exquisitely awesome way if I do say so myself. The solid brass clasp has never failed me, meaning that not once have my pants fallen down as I saunter through the halls. That kind of dependability makes Yolanda a true wingman.

In addition to giving me confidence, this exclusive belt buckle allows me to express myself and stand out from the crowd. The exercise of our First Amendment rights includes numerous forms of self expression, not just speech.

We all have the freedom to wear clothing as decorated as my belt buckle, or to express individuality in some other way. I take pride in being a nonconformist and my belt buckle helps to convey my personality to the world.

Naturally, I’d like to think that my belt buckle catches the occasional eye of the female teenager.  So far, none of them have been bold enough to mention it. The important thing is that I am content with my belt buckle and myself.

Ultimately, I encourage each of you to find your own ornate belt buckle, whatever it may be, to distinguish yourself as an individual and to give you the confidence to take on the challenges of everyday life.

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