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Monday, December 14, 2009

Be Authentic

When I was in high school, I was notably odd.

When others started smoking cigarettes, I started smoking a pipe.

While all my friends were getting cars, I didn't even get a driver's license until I was well out of school.

And I never conformed when it came to clothes. I wore hats. And sometimes I'd wear a tie to school. This was weird enough, but I might wear it with a barber-shop-quartet-style red-and-white-striped shirt. And cowboy boots.

I thought I was shockingly bizarre. But I had no idea what was around the corner. A few years later the punks came along, and then the Goths, proving that I was embarrassingly small-minded in my weirdness.

Still, we live in a culture of conformity. You don't have to pierce something, or tattoo your face, to shock most people. And anyway, I don't mean that we should go out and do things for the sole purpose of being weird. (Usually.)

What I mean is: Be yourself, even if it's out of the flow.

Wear what makes you comfortable. Of course, some trading-off is sometimes necessary: If you wear pajamas to a job interview, you may find yourself comfortably unemployed. So a little "inauthenticity" in dress may be in order from time to time.

But overall, don't be a slave to fashion, wearing shoes that pinch or dresses that cinch just because they're "in."

The same holds in other areas of "conformity."

The key? I am generally under-dressed, wearing sandals and dressing "baggy." When challenged, I tell people: "I wear my style on the inside."

So be yourself. Be authentic, inside and out.

You'll be happier.

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