One of the things I really dislike doing is pausing for a moment to look at where things are in my life objectively. I think that most people actually avoid doing this out of practice because they might find something they’re not satisfied with. I actually don’t mind if my life is full of things I’m not currently satisfied with, but I get fairly saddened (though you would never know it) when I find my current, or more importantly, future state has been worsened by a failed attempt to make things better. Don’t worry, an example to follow of course. I often think “well, things could be worse” when I’m uneasy about a situation and need to put my best foot forward but after putting my best foot forward for so long and finding things continually worse it’s hard to keep marching.
Time for an example, to keep everyone fairly rooted around the problem. If you’ve seen me over the past decade or so you have probably seen me in a dressy collared shirt and a decent pair of cargo pants. The closest I get to casual is Friday when I’ll put on a polo; certainly no sweats and t-shirts (implying nothing over the t-shirt) are only allowed in extreme cases during the summer like walking to a beach. The plan was fairly simple and straightforward when I developed it, keep in mind this was a decade or so ago. Most people dress like they’re just casually hanging out, sometimes those outfits convey a lack of caring about a subject or the person presenting it. In an extreme, wearing PJ bottoms to class screams, in many instances, “I am too lazy to put real pants on, so I probably don’t want to be here.” The second, and more important scenario would play out as follows: I coincidentally run into someone cool / famous / future boss-like figure and they think “Hey, I will say hi to this nice young fellow because he looks like he has a clue what he’s doing / he doesn’t look like an idiot.”
I think I’ve gotten some use out of use case #1. In middle / high school I think it served me well to dress professionally. I doubt that was the sole reason that I rate my K-12 education so highly, but I do think I got my mileage out of that one. Use case #2 on the other hand hasn’t really panned out for me. I don’t think, aside from a handful of interactions, that I’ve ever bumped into someone who has decided to not write me off because of my dress…. not because people don’t think that way but because I just haven’t found myself bumping into anyone at all. I think I had some dream playing out in my head where some super cool executive sees me “working” or something like that and decides to hire me, or at least pursue that option, because I look like someone who cares a little more than the person next to me. No luck on that front.
I can take away a few things from all that:
- The manner in which I present myself doesn’t necessarily convey I care in general, it implies I care about a very restricted subset of topics. Someone who cares about interacting socially with others may care just as much, or more, about their dress however they just display that differently.
- Kind of a corollary to #1, but my clothing selection tends to imply I don’t care about a lot of topics, sometimes a good thing and sometimes a bad thing. My clothes probably don’t show a care for sports and I’m comfortable with that, but they’ve also been interpreted to imply I’m not interested in “having fun” which, despite popular belief, may not always be true.
- There is no inherent value in matching a stereotype, only perceived value.
I decided I didn’t like denim, like jeans, back when I was in like 6th grade. I had a few bad experiences and decided they were the worst pants in the world… well, not as bad as those loud swishy pants, but the worst pants that I would be faced with on a daily basis anyways. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school when my girlfriend and a close friend of mine decided I needed to buy a pair of jeans and try a new outfit to make Friday a bit more casual. I am not sure if I went along just because it meant spending time with my girlfriend of if I was running low on cargo pants, but I did. I ended up getting a pair of jeans, a blue/pink collared shirt, and a white/orange sweater thing and I wore them to school. Being interested in the social sciences, I took notes as people remarked and generally found that people liked the jeans and were confused by the tops. Fair enough I guess.
Recently, I acquired two new pairs of jeans. One is not really of note, but the other one is a black pair that is sufficiently different from the previous pairs to make it notable. It also stands out because my belt is brown, but that’s an issue to resolve another day. I don’t really have a collared shirt that I think works great with my black jeans, and I started to hypothesize if/how things would be different if I wasn’t to strict and considered pairing just a t-shirt with said pants. Ridiculous, I know. I’ll start by saying that I can’t implement even a trial of this strategy because I lack an appropriate t-shirt to do so at the moment nor am I easily pleased by t-shirts with messages I don’t agree with on them. I also have a feeling that most people stopped tucking t-shirts into their jeans back in like 5th grade and I’m not sure how I could handle the increased range of motion if a t-shirt wasn’t tucked in. That’s not to say I couldn’t survive, I’m just not sure how physically comfortable I’d find that.
I’m lucky to be playing with clothes here, I can try them on in the comfort of my own apartment and no one has to know what they look like. I can also very easily provide previous to other people if I really want their feedback, and talking about clothes is not out of the question. At the end of the day, it’s just a pair of pants.
I think that is enough for now.
Good night moon.