I’ve been mentally blogging a lot over the past few weeks… so much so that I kind of almost forgot that I haven’t actually typed anything out and sent it into the world… As a result, I’m ending up with one giant blog post, that really could be multiple little nuggets of bloggity goodness, but instead I’m going to do my best to roll them all into one epic post… the topics are varied, new jobs, dressing for success, body image, dating… But I’m pretty sure my brain has tied them all together in a fairly cohesive way… either that or I’m fooling myself and am desperately in need of an editor… I’m going to go with cohesive.
Whoever coined the idea of dressing for the job that you want vs. the job that you have clearly never worked in a restaurant… For the past year my daily work wardrobe has consisted of jeans, basic tees and kind of grungy Danskos that I’ve been rocking since high school. I tried to make it a point of wearing my “real person clothes” on my days off, but after a while my days off started filling up with yoga classes and exercise and eventually the idea of doing 3 costumes changes in a day just so I wasn’t caught wearing yoga pants to the grocery store seemed a little excessive. Plus, I’ve never really been that self-conscious. I absolutely believe in taking pride in how you present yourself, but I also believe that your confidence and self work shouldn’t come from how you look…..
Tangent alert! Once a few years ago, one of my acquaintances went off about how she thinks that women need to wear “real” clothes all the time and take pride in how they look because if we don’t we are communicating to men that we don’t value ourselves and therefore they shouldn’t value us either. I’m of course paraphrasing here, but this is something that has really stuck with me over the years… mostly because it irritated the hell out of me, and also I think she had a point. (to some degree) It goes with the whole dress for success mantra. In theory you take pride in how you look, you make an effort and along with that comes poise and confidence and professionalism etc etc…. But I just keep thinking that if my poise and charisma and overall energy doesn’t translate to a stranger in a grocery store because I’m wearing yoga pants and a hoodie… then I’m pretty sure he wasn’t my soul mate anyway. Am I right? Someone who isn’t willing to look past the superficial shell is probably not someone who is worth my time in the first place. But I get it, first impressions, snap judgments, we all do it. But my self worth isn’t tied up in what I’m wearing or how much makeup I have on, and just because I occasionally run errands or maybe even grab brunch with my girlfriends after a barre class when I’m sweaty and wearing workout gear doesn’t mean that I don’t value myself.
I’ve never been the woman who puts on mascara before going to the gym, or eyeliner before a yoga class. That just isn’t the authentic me, and as a yoga teacher I feel like authenticity is extremely important. Of course I have the students who always feel the need to comment about how tired I look, or how large the bags under my eyes are, or make a huge deal on the day I actually come to class with my hair somewhat styled… and each and every time a comment is made it totally boggles my mind. Maybe I am just wired differently, but when did it become the social norm to tell someone how terrible they look, even if it is in an offhand way? I would never in a million years tell one of my students that they were looking ragged or worn down, or tired, or out of it, nor would I ever call them out on days when they are wearing more makeup than normal… But customers at the restaurant would do this to me all the time as well… I think people are searching for ways to make conversation and so they say asinine things like “gosh you look exhausted today!” Since when is this an acceptable conversation starter for anyone, let alone people you barely know? Anyway, I’m getting off track… but overall I understand the importance of poise, of grace, and of somehow conveying to the world that you value yourself… and yes, this can be done with how you style your person, but overall I think it more has to do with how you carry yourself and your confidence.
Anyway, all this to say that I firmly believe your overall essence shouldn’t be tied up in material things like how you dress and how much makeup you wear. I like getting dressed up, and I like looking nice, but I’m not going to be hung up on how I look every moment of the day.
That being said… after years and years of buying outfits with no real place to wear them to, this week I started a job in fashion. Before your imagination gets rolling I’m not working for a designer or magazine or anything like that, I’m working for a small locally owned boutique that I’ve been shopping at for about 10 years… and it is absolutely lovely. It is owned by two lovely sisters, it is in a lovely part of the town that I live in, and it has lovely things. And though I still advocate for not letting your appearance dictate your confidence, I am definitely a little more concerned with how I look when I walk out the door in the morning (at least when I’m heading to work.) a big part of my job is helping people pick out clothing for specific occasions, and just like wearing a ball gown to the restaurant would have been highly inappropriate, showing up for work looking like a disheveled yoga clown is not going to fly… I still maintain that I’m not going to wear makeup to the gym, and I’ll probably still run to the grocery store in yoga pants when its convenient, but I am much more aware of how in this particular setting my appearance and what I’m wearing matters.
Thankfully I’ve been stockpiling some classic pieces from this shop for years, and opening up my closet I would say at least 1/3rd of my wardrobe is probably from this boutique… I have always been able to justify purchases from there saying “well this is a timeless piece, its high quality, I’ll have it forever.” And its mostly true! Granted, after a year of working a few feet away from a deli case full of coconut macaroons, Chantilly cream, daily access to full fat dairy hot chocolate/chai/lattes, and all the gluten free pizza of my dreams, I’m a little bit rounder than I used to be. Not everything I’ve stockpiled fits me quite as well as I’d like, but what can you do? (go running… that’s what, and not dwell on it. Cause I’m 28, and my metabolism is slowing down, and I really like to eat, and I really like gumdrops and I really really like full fat dairy… but I’m not going to let body image and vanity get in my way, I’m going to work hard, and hope that eventually my pencil skirts aren’t quite as tight… I digress.) Literally my first purchase out of college was a black tulle Nicole Miller dress I saw in the shop window. Looking at that dress I just knew that in it I would feel put together, I would feel polished, and accomplished. (looking back, of course I still feel all of those things when I’m not in the dress… but sometimes you just need a little black dress.)
So I guess after all of that, I have actually been dressing for the job I wanted and not the job I had… I just didn’t realize it, and it was of course in my down time… Though I know there are going to be days when I really miss easiness of jeans and clogs, I’m really excited to be able to dig into my wardrobe and finally be able to wear some of the pieces I’ve been holding onto.
I’m also quite excited about this job because I will be working “normal” hours. I guess normal is a relative term, but I’m thrilled to be able to spend at least one weekend day with my friends, and I will be home in time to feed the dog every night. Ya and hoo. My somewhat normal retail hours will also mean that I’ll have more time to have a life. IE evenings free. Lord only knows if that will actually translate into things like dating, but one can only hope. I’m realizing that for the last one million years or so (ok, for the last 6 years) I have been married to my job. And now suddenly having a little bit more freedom, and less stress is a little bit terrifying. I’m not going to be working until 11PM every Saturday night… and at long last, I’m out of excuses. It was pretty easy to hide behind things like “well I work 70 hours a week, and mostly evenings, I don’t really have time to date anyone.” And it was true… but it was also a really really convenient excuse for anytime anyone would look at me with his/her head a little tilted to the side and ask “well why aren’t you dating anyone?” (Again, how is this really an appropriate conversation starter? Its not like there is really a good answer… the only thing I can really say is “because everyone I ask says no, and no one asks me” But the way in which people ask it with this befuddled and somewhat offended tone with that underlying hint of “what is wrong with you?” Um… I don’t know, do you know any single guys? No? Well then why is it so dumbfounding that I don’t’ really either? The end. I think everyone is hoping for something more dramatic. People want me to secretly be a lesbian or something… but really its just that I live in a town with not a lot of dateable people, and for reals, no one is asking me out, and everyone I’ve asked has said no… what more can I say?)
Anyway… flashback to two weeks ago, I’m out car shopping because my vehicle was totaled, and I get this amazing job offer. I take it , and as I’m trying to wrap my head around giving two weeks notice, life transitions, and am living through the ever trying debate of Mini-Cooper vs. Honda Civic, and trying to figure out buying my own health insurance. My mother turns to me literally 30 minutes after accepting the job and says “This is great. Now you will have time to do on-line dating!” Me “um…. No thank you?” Her “I swear, every other day I hear about another great couple who has met online… you just need to do it, its how everyone dates now. You will never meet someone in real life.”… yes, this was a real life conversation. (side note. My mom is going to read this, and probably freak out, and get mad that I take her comments/ conversations out of context and then write about them, and then everyone thinks she is weird. She isn’t weird, she is my mom, and I think we have a pretty typical mother daughter relationship. But she does actually say these things to me, and I do actually roll my eyes and sometimes get really mad, but mostly I know that she is acting out of love, and she just wants me to be happy, and sometimes rather than just saying that directly it comes out as “you should join an online dating site, you will never meet someone in real life” Its fine, I understand her motives.. but in the meantime, I continue to operate on the premise of “I blog about my life, and sometimes you say things to me that are awkward and therefore I will blog about them… if you don’t want me to blog about them maybe think it through before you say it out loud.” I think it’s learning and growing experience for us both. P.S. I love you Claudia Jean.)
Anyway, needless to say, with everything else that was going on, dating in general was pretty much the last thing I was thinking about. (I mean I was secretly a little worried that she had already set up a profile for me somewhere because suddenly she seemed to know A LOT about online dating,… ) And the week goes on, I buy a car, I give notice, I try to get my immediate future somewhat organized, and as I’m driving to work one day last week I heard an interview with Judy Greer on Q with Jian Ghomeshi. I’m always pretty captivated by the interviews on the show, and I really like Judy Greer anyway, but something that she said really resonated with me. She was talking about how she put things out there with intention, and how one day she decided that she was ready to be married, so she started acting like a wife. This kind of stopped me in my tracks, because I realized that as much as I was mentally saying “I’m ready to build a life with someone” my actions were pretty much sending the opposite message. Pretty much my house is in a constant state of functioning chaos. Which works for me… really. I live alone, I’m young, and its not like my house is dirty, I’m good a keeping up with the physical cleanliness of things (thank you disinfecting wipes and my fancy vacuum) but really my house is a bit cluttered. I’m not awesome about picking up after myself, putting away my laundry, and organizing my office. And I’m terrible about getting rid of things… And I know that I make a lot of excuses for this… It is what it is, but as I was sitting there driving to work, listening to this radio program it started to sink in that no matter how emotionally ready I think I am for a relationship, I am certainly not acting like a wife. And let me just clarify… I’m not actually looking to get married anytime soon, I actually don’t know if I want to be married ever, at least maybe not in the conventional sense of the word, and I certainly don’t have any preconceived ideas about how wives should act, or certain things that wives should be doing. But I do want to be someone’s person, and I do want to start building a meaningful life with someone other than my dog. And do to that, maybe I need to start taking a little more responsibility for my home life. Maybe I need to start making an effort to keep things a little more orderly. Maybe I need to start making my home a place that feels a little less chaotic, and a little more inviting. Maybe I need to make some more room in my life for the unexpected, and maybe need to start building a home and not just filling the space up. Maybe I need to start spending a little more time outfitting my day to day for the life that I want, and not the life that I have.
Maybe I need to start approaching my life like I have my wardrobe… I’ve been stockpiling some key pieces for a while, maybe its time to dust them off and start putting things together. I need to start “dressing” for the life I want, and not for the life I have.