“Is this who I am now?” That’s the thought that was repeating over and over in my head as my wife, son and I all got ready to go to my niece’s baptism. Each time I looked at myself I thought “Is this who I am”, well no, I thought “Is this who I am, now?” I wasn’t sure I liked the answer. I asked Kim the question, I liked her answer a little more, something along the lines of “this isn’t who you are, this is who you are is dressed like just for right now.” Just so we’re all on the same page the me we’re discussing was staring at himself in the mirror wearing a sports jacket, a v-neck sweater underneath covering a button down pick striped dress shirt, jeans and a pair of docker espresso colored dress shoes. Not a pretty picture from where I was standing.
I know there seems to only be several different themes that pop up in these columns. Hopefully I express them in entertaining ways each week. I think that this is the major theme of my life right now, “Is this who I am?” Am I the guy turning 40 this year that dresses like Alex Keaton’s father on Family Ties? How do others see me? Does my outside appearance match the person I feel like?
Like most people I think that I’m several different people in several different roles. At work I wear a suit, at home it’s torn jeans and a t-shirt, when I go out with friends it’s slightly less torn jeans and a better t-shirt, for special occasions, given what I wore this weekend, I apparently dress like a less attractive older soap opera star. Given that I’m wearing a suit every day and now dressing nicer than I’d like for special occasions the only time people who don’t really know me see me I’m dressed like a guy I never thought I’d be. What do those people think about me? Does it matter what those people think about me? I think it does matter because let’s face it, the person reflected back to us influences how we feel about ourselves.
So, if most people I don’t know see me not as the cool, jazz and classic rock listening, beat poetry quoting, guitar playing, hip book reading, prog loving guy that I know myself to be and instead see me as the geek in the suit then am I more the guy in the suit? If my son’s teachers don’t ever know that I was the guy that got suspended for wearing a Metallica t-shirt to school then was I ever really that guy. If a tree with several tattoos falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it then was it ever inked?
Kim and I attended a charity event this weekend. It was at a club and the dress was supposed to be dress casual to dress. I showed up in the suit I wore to work. Kim was dressed in a hip dress. When we got to the club 99% of the attendees, who it turns out were under the age of 30 must have received the wrong invite. They were wearing jeans or skirts so high I could have reached and touched most of the women that would have meant we were engaged in some societies. When I walked through the crowd I noticed that no one looked or acted like I was their contemporary. I was an elder. I didn’t know whether to be pleased or saddened. What I did know was that I no longer cared what these people thought. Years ago I would have been so concerned about what a woman dressed like that thought of me, now I just thought about how none of these people should be at a charity event, they clearly needed their money to buy better clothes.
I’m not sure what clothes say about a person. I’m not sure I’m ever going to be happy wearing anything other than ripped jeans and an old t-shirt. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be happy looking like I’m on the wrong side of a fraternity in Animal House. I guess life’s a journey and we wear the clothes that fit the journey. I started in diapers and am sure I’ll eventually end up in them again. In the meantime I’m going to dress appropriately when needed and enjoy my time out of clothes as much as possible when I can! Until next week everyone.