Some Thoughts on a Purse and Perceptions

Changing your world doesn’t come easily. It’s a constant mental challenge. I find myself constantly fighting my insecurities and fears. Anything that happens, my first instinct has been to conjure a worry or to see the worst of it rather than the opportunity it presents. It’s habits like those that are the first I aim to change this year, and it means stepping outside my cozy little box and doing things that are perhaps not something I’d ever consider the right “fit” for me.

…But in realizing how unhappy I really was with life last fall, I realized that all the things I thought “fit” my life weren’t fitting me at all. So, like buying clothes, part of my challenge this year is to try a whole lot of things that are outside my perceived comfort zone, and then I’ll hone my experiences to things that I now know fit me.

That, however, is easier said than done, particularly in a week like I’m having. Actually, there’s just been one bad day, that was Monday. No great days, but only the one bad day. Mentally, though, I haven’t been beaten. But let’s not get ahead of things here, and back up a bit.

On Monday, I thought this week might never end. It was the Monday that Just Kept Coming. Between crap breaking and getting lost, I figure I’m out about $500. Yeah, GREAT start to the week, thanks. We’ll just take this week’s salary and throw it right out the window. What fun! Who needs food anyhow?

But I got up when I planned to, I did my yoga, and I kept my head in the game all day. At day’s end, I attributed my ability to stay positive with having a good breakfast and doing some yoga so I had become a little more “conscious” of my day. Yoga’s not just exercise, it’s learning how to mentally flip the page on attitudes, and I’m really embracing that part of it.

That said, I’m not really into the yoga again yet. I think one needs to do it a week or two before it feels comfortable. It’s harder than it looks. Nice being able to do MyYogaOnline in all my glorious suckiness. Real classes will be nice one day, but not until I’m possessing more grace than the lumbering elephant disposition I currently have. God knows I’m trying. Grace shall be mine.

But it’s really helping me keep my tactical mind awake about life this week. I’m looking at things more constructively than emotionally, which is good ‘cos the emotions have been a little unreliable given losing my beloved iPOD is part of what’s made my week precarious, especially since I’ve been doomed to taking the bus this week given the cold snap out there.

Speaking of transit, I had a strange moment last night on the bus. Remember how I was mentioning my decision to do things decidedly outside of my comfort zone of late?

Well, last year I received a couriered package and opened it up to find a top-quality Yves St. Laurent knock-off purse. I stared at it with confusion, thinking, “Wow. That’s so not me.” In the year that’s passed, it’s lain on the floor of my closet, receiving the occasion quizzical gaze from yours truly. It’s a fresh-off-the-boat Mainland Chinese knock-off of the best quality, just fantastic.

But it’s so chi-chi Uptown New York, or so very Yaletown here in Vancouver. There’s a certain kind of woman that carries that purse, uptown or not. I mean, as a math equation, it’d be something like:

(biznessy + girlie-girl) x money = YSL big-ass logoed bag

I didn’t have the courage to try and play that role. Steff le chi-chi moneyed femme? Yeah. Okay then. I’ll just park my stickered scooter over here and hide my nine-hole boots.

Finally a couple weeks ago I decided I could be any kind of woman I wanted, since “trying before buying” is my lifestyle approach this year, and YSL or not, it was a knock-off. Sure, it looked like $1400, but it was a knock-off. How very punk. Sorta. And it supported local economy in impoverished China since it was bought there by my aunt. How very philanthropical of us, really.

And it’s big and well-made. So, I started carrying it once every few days. When I do, I dress the best I’m able, cuteify myself, and head out. I totally forget it’s some expensive purse lookalike and I tell myself I need to match my gear.

But then I had this moment last night when this middle-aged sad-looking Asian woman across the bus aisle kept looking at the purse, then me, and I could see her thinking “What’s she done to get that, and how come I’m not so lucky?”

Much to my surprise, I was foolin’ ’em. Then I realized two things. One, I could make the purse work which says something about my demeanour and appearance that I didn’t think was true, thanks to insecurities I’ve embraced in recent years, and has been an eye-opening but happy shock to me. Two, it was a reminder of just how much people can, and will, read into our appearance, and if there’s any one thing we have the power to do, it’s to control what it is they perceive about us.

I don’t know. I keep telling myself that I don’t know myself as well as I keep telling myself… that I’m stronger than I think, more versatile than I think. That I’m resilient in the face of challenges. That I enjoy learning about cultures and know how to make new friends fast. But I haven’t allow myself to face those challenges in the last few years, all because I thought I knew my limits.

The point is, too many of us pass up opportunity because we don’t think we can live up to it, or we think it’s not the right fit for us. Whether it’s trying bondage in sex or eating sushi, we want to think we know what’s going to work for us, instead of taking the chance to try and see whether it might fit after all.

I have a friend whose kid is but a year and a half old, and the kid’ll eat anything not once, not twice, but three times. Seriously, under two, and this kid will eat minimum three mouths full of any food you give him before he decides that he does or doesn’t like it. Once he’s opposed, you’re not changing his mind, but why would you bother… because you know he tried it, right? How smart is this kid, huh?

If only I’d had that mentality from birth, my life would be a world different than it is now.

Consciously trying to change my former tendancy to fear change in my life’s already been a pretty eye-opening experience, and I’ve done nothing but have breakfast with some folks, get a haircut, and carry a purse in the span of a week or so. Wait’ll the big things start happening later this year, hey? What fun.