Attending CLARA Revival Night Lights on May 13 this year was a valuable experience for me. I got to be there because I won a contest, I got to watch three collections being presented (one of them by Tex Saverio whom I looked forward to the most), I got to get introduced to Didit Hediprasetyo (for whose recent haute couture collection I drafted the press release), I got to meet again with my friend from Junior High School that I had not met for 10 years, and I got other valuable things too.
Sadly, I was not entirely happy. There was nothing wrong with the occasion, the fault was entirely mine. During that night, again for the hundredth time in my life, I felt insecure. Why? Basically I felt intimidated by the people that attended the event with what they wore, how they looked, and they fact that they seemed to know each other and I knew nobody. I felt really under-dressed and out of place.
For the record, I dressed quite properly for the occasion: I wore a Monday To Sunday shirt on top of a 16DS jeans and a pair of Zara high top sneakers. But I can’t deny that, compared to the other guests, I felt like I should’ve dressed . . . more. So, had I dressed “more” for the occasion, would I have felt secure? Presumably not, because I realized that my insecurity did not root at what I wore. It rooted at something deeper.
Someone who was among the guests did wear just this: shirt + shorts + a pair of hiking sandals. Less proper than what I had on, isn’t it? But that same person gave and received dozens of kisses during the event. That person was well-connected and knew and known by a lot of the guests there, I was not and that fed into my insecurity. That person was secured by his connection and enormous wealth (I know this for sure), I was not and I guess that was the biggest blow to my security.
Had I not come to the event with my boss, I would have gone to the venue by public transportation or maybe taxi (I did have an invitation of my own as a contest winner). When I left the venue at Pacific Place mall, I had to walk all the way to Semanggi to catch my bus. It was later than 9 pm.
Whenever I’m in that kind of social situation and my insecurity kicks in, I would feel like everybody is looking at me. Not that they always do, but when they do I feel like they do it in disgust. “Ugh, look at your oily face”, “ew, what a shabby clothes”, “are you sure you’re invited here?”. Those thoughts probably pass people’s mind when they look at me. This is the same feeling that prevented me from going inside a boutique, even just to look at its collection of jackets and jeans, because I would feel that the shopkeepers knew I wouldn’t buy anything and think inside their heads “oh, please, these clothes are too expensive for you!”.
This is exactly an instance of Jean Paul Sartre’s idea of “the look”, and I would feel like an object, scrutinized and judged by the subject (others), whenever I felt insecure that way. I feel like when the others look at me, they could see right through my soul and my history, knowing where I came from, my social status, my level of economy, and every little facts of my life that I may not be proud of. I need a reversal, become the subject of my own world and not the object of others’ world. But how?
Stylists would often suggest us to be confident in what we wear. Implicitly: be delusional that you are somebody, that you are the star of the occasion. I guess they are right, and even if they’re not, the self-fed delusion certainly works to get you through the night before reality breaks in. Reality. Perhaps I was being too real and too good at perceiving the reality that a lot of people looked down on me. But what exactly is real? What if I wasn’t being real and that my insecurity was the delusion that I created, instead of creating the delusion of confidence? How am I supposed to tell what is real? How am I supposed to tell that I’m not paranoid?
I don’t know. All I know is that the delusion of confidence doesn’t work for me. “The look” is just too strong for my barrier to hold against. And it’s also because I know that it isn’t just clothes that I wear to any occasion, but it’s also my life: who I am, what I do for living, how much I make per month, what I have achieved, etc. I can’t change the “bad” things in my history, but I can make up for that by becoming a “better” person in many ways. Myself and everything about my life are my wardrobe that I wear wherever I go. What I need to do is clean this wardrobe, stitch up the holes, do what I can to make it look brand new and damn precious. Then I can wear it and be confident about it.
– Taws Up! –