When is the last time you opened your wardrobe?
We do it whenever we want a change of clothes. Wardrobe decisions – over what to buy, wear, dump – may be an abundant joy for some, but an absolute chore for others. Whether you like it or not, it is a necessary part of everyday life. We rarely want to turn up anywhere in public in our birthday suits!
Yet you may not have the right clothes in your wardrobes. And even when you do, you may find it hard to decide. These are problems which cannot be fully resolved without the sociological imagination; our personal problems cannot be separated from public issues:
Society judges you for what you study, where you work, and how much you earn. You judge society for its biased media, cut-throat politics, and misshaped environment. Disillusioned, you may seek refuge in music, the arts, travel, and relationships. Each facet of everyday life is woven into the fabric of our hearts. Each colors your choices of what to do, and how to behave. Each shapes who you are.
SmartCasualSG is, in a sense, my wardrobe. I like to dress in colors. I like to match different colors each time I go out. I also tend to look out of place as a result, with colors a tad too striking or slightly out-of-sync. And this is who I tend to be: just a little out of place.
For a long time I wanted to try all kinds of clothes to meet all manners of taste. I have since realized that this was no way to live. Eventually, I have to find the outfits and identities which fit me best.
The wardrobe will take time to change, but it’s beginning to.
Regardless, what fits on me is often not going to fit on you. So I cannot tell you what to buy, wear, or dump. And that fits me just fine.
Indeed, if there is only one revelation, let it be that what fits on you often does not fit on others. We all have to find our own individual styles, even if this must be constantly negotiated with the world around us.
But this does not mean we have nothing to share with each other. Having thoughtful voices around will help you find your own. What I can give you is a change of clothes.
But a change of clothes would mean nothing unless the person also changes. I can open your eyes to more unusual options, but you must also be willing to open your ears.
We ought to put down our hardened armours and our thickened lenses. To perceive the world as it is, with all the external battles and inner conflicts, we need a healthy body and an engaged mind.
Only with both can we grow the heart to work at finding a fit for life’s functions.
We like to think that life exists in strict dichotomies. And so we judge people: right or wrong, smart or dumb, good or evil, boring or fun. Yet reality tells a different story. Reality tells us that there is never only one story to be told. There is never only one way to think, one way to feel, or one way to act.
It is within the grey areas that we learn empathy. It is also here that we can truly exercise our agency. My goal here is to inhabit these grey areas, and bring color to them. Because the problems of life are also opportunities for us to create life.
May you move on from who you are, and discover who you can become!
aka Socio Empath