Repeated, desperate attempts by #sgMS, family, friends and others have gone in vain as I refuse to wear anything that is not comfortable. As a result, I am often the worst dressed in the room. I have this special superpower. I can walk into any store and pick the worst thing that they've ever sold. No wonder my wardrobe looks like a dump yard that has been neglected by the city and the people alike.
Plus I can't think if I am wearing shoes. Serious. It seems as if someone has put a claw on my thinking. May be my brain is in my toes? Quite likely, going by the way things are going for me professionally and personally.
So, there are times when in a gathering of 1000 people, all dressed in their wedding suits and sunday bests, I am the lone nut who's dressed in shorts, chappals (aka flip flops) and a loose comfortable teeshirt. Of course I stand out like a cockroach on a wedding cake (as Bukowski would say). As a result, I am singled out and I often get into trouble. So much so that I have stopped going to public gatherings. And, no, unlike what I've been blamed of, I don't crave for attention. I just need to be comfortable.
India is such a hot and humid place. Why would I want to cover my entire body with thick layers of cloth and sweat and make everyone uncomfortable around me? I'd rather air the body parts and keep it open. After all, my work must speak louder than how I dress. No?
Turns out, I was wrong. I am wrong. Whatever is the right usage of grammar.
How I dress is more important than how I work. I realized this yesterday when I had a meeting where I was pitching my services. My services. MY. SERVICES. As Saurabh Garg. For the first time in a long long time. As myself. Not as an employee of some other company. Nor as a representative of someone else.
Side note: All meetings prior to this, I have been part of a large contingent, headed by one of my bosses and more often than not we had worked with the client earlier. The clients thus knew of
Plus most of my work has been in advertising, events and travel. These businesses are considered "creative" and it is assumed that the practitioners of these disciplines don't dress up well. I mean think of all the advertising kinds that you know of. What do they dress up in? What do they wear? How often do you think they conform to what the world dresses up like?
Plus what I do is nothing special or different. It's very similar to what a million others do. I am no one special. I thus must not expect any special privileges. Of course if I were an artist, I could have decided on what to wear and who to meet and all that.
Plus other times when I have applied for a job, they have been in related industries and similar profiles. Plus they were looking at my experience and my CV. Here, the CV was me. Walking and talking. Live.
Coming back. This was THE first time where I was unproven and the guy on the other side did not know of my reputation, the work I had done and so on and so forth. I thought I was going to get judged on the basis of what I present and how I present. I thought I had great ideas that were workable, cost effective and pretty cool. I mean if someone pitched those ideas to me, I would've been happy.
But, but, what I did not know is that how I looked like and what I looked like also mattered.
So even before the meeting started, the person who got me that meeting told me that I looked like shit and he would cancel the meeting if he could, because I look like shit. Set the tone for the meeting. All the pep-talk that I had given myself, all the self-talk that I subjected myself to, all the motivation, all the confidence I had, it just went down the drain. I could literally see it flowing it over my baggy jeans, leather "formal" chappals, unkept feet, to the drain.
Can't blame him. By introducing me, he was putting his reputation on the stake and the way I was dressed did not do justice to his introduction. The "client" was supposed to trust me with business and the way I looked apparently spoke about the trust.
I felt sorry for him. To have stuck his foot out and introduce me.
And for myself. To have broken his faith in sticking his foot out for me.
Learnt a lesson. Felt stupid about being so stubborn all my life. I thought I have identified a way of life that works for me and the world at large could either live with it. Or take a hike. The world just asked me to take a hike!
As I write. think about the incident, about 12 hours later, I feel defiant. How can I change who I am, just to earn a few rupees? I have enough and more in the bank. I define enough as enough to pay the bills for 18 months.
Wait. No! I don't have that kind of cash. I just have enough to last me till end of THIS month. Damn it! I AM poor and I need every penny that I can get. From anyone and for anything. And I am willing to sell my soul for it. A friend told me yesterday, there's nothing called selling half a soul. So there are no half measures. Either I sell out. Or I don't. I need to decide and choose.
The decision was pretty easy. At least it looked easy yesterday. Today, I am not so sure.
But, here is the change I am willing to make. An experiment that I am willing to do.
For when I have to meet people for work, I will dress up in something that is acceptable to the world and to me. I thought hard about it. The bare minimum the world expects is a clean pair of denims, a full-sleeves shirt (that I would roll up) and a pair of shoes. Since I am lazy and I don't understand fashion, I will dress up in predictable black shirts. Along with denims and loafers (the closet thing that can be called a shoe and yet offer the freedom to my feet).
Every time I have a meeting, I will wear those. I have to make a living and if it requires me to mould the way I am, I will. If the world can't accept black shirts and denims as formals, too bad. I will go back to a safe haven of a job and try and create something that makes people come to (rather than the other way around).
And when people come to me, I don't think it matters what I wear and how I wear. Does it? Ask Steve!
I'd do this for a few meetings. If they work out fine, I would better my wardrobe. But if those meetings don't convert into business, I will revet to my old style. Of course the meetings could go good or bad depending on multiple factors but I will assume that they went bad because I was uncomfortable (because I was dressed up and was wearing shoes).
Let's see how things go. Bring it on world!
P.S.: Want to know how meeting went? Ask me nicely and I may tell you.