We’ve all heard that expression, “dress to impress”.
To be honest, I have no problems with that phrase whatsoever. I feel like we should all be able to dress in a way that highlights our uniqueness. That can serve as a confidence boost, especially if we are going on a job interview, a first date, or to a certain social gathering. The way we dress, the way we present ourselves, is very important. We want to show ourselves off in a positive light. We want to let people know that we take care of ourselves and that we take pride in how we present ourselves to the world. So, in that respect, there is nothing wrong with dressing to impress.
Some of this motivation is attributed to you and how it makes you feel inside and the byproduct of that could be impressing others around you. My concern is when we focus so much of our time and energy on worrying about how we dress, how we look, what we are going to wear, or how people might perceive us depending on what’s on the outside. When this happens, we end up devoting so much of our attention to all of these material things. Our lives become so fixated on how we look, so consumed with dressing up the outside, that we forget to address the inside.
From my own personal experience, I remember always wanting a new pair of sneakers or jeans, a piece of jewelry, or some type of electronic device. I was hyper-focused on getting these materialistic things to make myself feel good. And that’s the problem: I was using things to make me feel good. I was acquiring inanimate objects to make me feel good, to make me feel “whole”. But was I really addressing the issue at hand? The answer is, no, I wasn’t.
For a certain period of time, I was too young to understand the concept of dressing the outside at the expense of taking care of the inside. Then, when I added drugs and alcohol into the mix, I became even more detached and more disconnected from myself. All I ever wanted to do was escape. I wanted to escape reality and escape any feelings or emotions that I didn’t want to deal with, which meant I didn’t allow myself or even give myself a chance to reflect on what was happening on the inside.
At this point, it didn’t really matter what I was doing, all I cared about was filling that void. I would use anything and everything, including people, on the outside to try to fix a problem that needed to be worked on from the inside. But, that takes work. To be honest, it was so much easier then and probably is now, to distract myself with external things instead of actually doing any real work on myself. I chose to take the easy way out. I chose to take the shortcut, which at the end of the day, never truly tackles the real issue.
This doesn’t mean we can’t treat ourselves by purchasing something that we really want. There’s nothing wrong with doing a little retail therapy, enjoying some of life’s pleasures, or overindulging to a certain degree. What we need to be aware of are the underlying motivations that drive us during these situations. On one hand, if they’re coming from a place of purity with good intentions, then we have nothing to worry about. But, on the other hand, if the sole reason is to fill a void, that’s the critical time when we have to recognize the destructive implications of our actions. We have to be brutally honest with ourselves and tell on ourselves to ourselves. If we don’t, we will create more and more internal dissonance, which will keep distancing ourselves from allowing ourselves to get to know our true selves.
If I can leave you with one lasting piece of advice, it would go something like this: Don’t distract yourself by dressing up the outside at the expense of dealing with the inside. Don’t rob yourself of getting to know your true self. Because, we should all strive to put in the work to understand what makes us unique, what makes us happy, and what makes us able to experience genuine freedom. This will afford all of us the opportunity to live life as the person we always wanted to be, because deep down inside, we always knew this is the person we could be.