I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence lately — who has it, how to get it, why it seems integral to the psychological construction of one person but then definitively impossible to muster in someone else. If I feel confident one day but not the next, does that mean that inherently, I’m not actually confident?
One of the most embarrassing qualities that I maintain is probably linked to the frequency with which I Google-image-search myself. It’s gotten better in recent months by simple virtue of a time-famine that has bled into the span I used to spend photo-searching, but if I may defend the impetus of my research, I’d like to argue that this tendency goes beyond the stroking of my own ego/battle with narcissism and might actually help reconcile one important conjecture on confidence, which is that you can fake it until it comes true.
Because here’s the thing: I don’t search for those photos in anticipation that I can pat myself on the back for having looked really cool or great, nor conversely to reprimand myself for having looked like a ding dong. Instead, I use those photos as a sort of litmus test to determine whether I still feel good — confident — about the clothes I wore. If I do, it feels cool that the current me is still satisfied by the decisions of a previous version of me.
Does that make sense?
Our relationships with our own style are such intricate meditations on identity. What are we going to say with these clothes? Who are we going to be, how are we going to perceive the world and use these slabs of fabrics to frame that?
I spent a lot of time thinking about clothes that I would have loved to wear but ultimately decided I couldn’t because…why? I didn’t feel like people would get it? I didn’t feel like I could explain myself? Style is not a preciously preserved blood vessel on the brink of popping, but even if it were, the difference between a blood vessel that has burst and one that has not is nothing more, nothing less, than stained skin that clears up in a matter of two weeks. So what’s the worst that can happen?
The popular opinion convinces us that stylistically-speaking, the tendencies we assume are only as good as public approval. Almost like we strive for what’s perfect, like Michelin-rated chefs in pursuit of consistent excellence rather than gastronomic trial and error motivated by the ebbs and flows that are assumed in order to create a delicacy that is entirely new to the human palette.
It’s 2016, though. We’re being bred to make a difference, change the world, reject the norms, so shouldn’t the clothes we choose to wear mirror that?
Of course, this stuff sound obvious. But it’s important to consider when discussing the notion of faking it until you make it. Confidence is still difficult to reconcile — some of us have it, some of us don’t — but in my experience, if you fake it for long enough, it tends to come true. That’s kind of the thing, right? No external variable, not a marriage, not a new handbag, not even really a job promotion, will meaningfully affect whether or not you experience confidence because that shit comes from a lot of tender, internal monologuing. But clothing does have a cool transformative quality and it can serve as an open window that initiates the flood gates.
Example: If you’re motivated by the vast eccentricities that raise eyebrows and present question marks, but feel self-conscious about it and thus aim for jeans and button downs more regularly that you care to admit, push yourself through the vacuum of doubt and dress like a fucking lunatic! My guess is that you’ll be running for president in no time.
Collage by Emily Zirimis.