A few years ago, I was called for jury duty. On the December day of the jury selection, a wild, super-snowstorm rolled into the Ottawa area. School buses did not run, people stayed home from work, and only those who really needed to venture out did so. I was one of those. It’s not good form to skip out on jury duty.
My usual 15-minute trip downtown turned into a 2-hour white-knuckle crawl in the storm, but I still arrived before the judge. (Phew!) I and the other potential jurors milled about the courthouse, waiting.
It gave me ample opportunity to people-watch.
A janitor strolled by, easily recognizable in his blue uniform. He had put on his janitor “costume” for work. The lawyers paced by with expensive suits, shiny shoes and briefcases. They had put on their lawyer “costumes” for the day. What struck me most, though, was how I could easily pick out the people in the crowd who were there for their court appearances. They had put on their “My life is a mess” costumes.
They labeled themselves with their clothing.
People didn’t sit or stand close to them. They were treated differently because of their appearance. I thought, “These people could probably completely change their lives if they just changed their wardrobe.”
On Sunday morning, I taught Sunday school.
Before I left the house, I changed out of my pajamas into my “Sunday school teacher” costume. In my class, the kids and I talked about Hallowe’en and what they were going to “be” for Hallowe’en. And that’s just it, isn’t it? Whatever we choose to put on ourselves, we become. We become it, because people develop perceptions of us based on what they see and then treat us accordingly. Then we start to believe the story ourselves.
This is a picture of me from university.
I went to a Hallowe’en party one year dressed as an accident victim. All night people kept saying, “You look awful.” You know, by the end of the night, I felt awful.
Choose the “costume” you put on every day carefully—your clothing, your makeup, your jewellery, your tattoos. What you choose to put on yourself, you become.