Tonight, the museum is hosting a reception for the opening of a new exhibit. The reception will be the first in-person event, and the first time the public will be allowed in the museum since the pandemic started. However, it will still not be back to normal. Anyone wanting to attend has to register for the opening by calling the museum. Attendees are also required to have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event and/or proof of vaccination when they check in. Also, the reception will be held outdoor, so we can allow a few people at a time into the museum to view the exhibit. All of this is exciting but also nerve-racking. I never do well at these types of events. I get nervous in crowds of people I don’t know well.
When I’m in a room full of strangers or only passing acquaintances, as will be the case tonight, I never really know how to interact. I listen more than talk because I never know what to say. I tend to overanalyze every movement, word, and thought a hundred times throughout the event and afterward. If I can stick close to someone I know well, then I am generally okay, but if I am left alone with someone I barely know, my anxiety takes over. Sometimes, I can do quite well. This is probably conceited of me, but the more knowledgeable I am about my surroundings, the better I do. However, this is an art exhibit, and I am a military historian, not an art historian. I can usually hold my own with art pieces that are at least a hundred years old, but all of the art in this exhibit is abstract art from a living artist. I am completely lost.
Yesterday, I talked about “clothes make the man.” Tonight, I will be wearing a suit. The biggest problem is that I have lost some weight, and my newer suits (they are at least 2-3 years old), are too big now, and I have not lost quite enough weight to fit into my older suits. I rarely wear suits. I only wear them for university functions like the reception tonight. I have no need for a suit any other time. So, I have to make do with what I have. It’s too late to try to buy a new suit, and that’s an expense I was not prepared for anyway. Plus, everywhere I know of in Vermont that sells suits has a very small selection of suits that would fit me. It’s hard enough to find a shirt that fits well, let alone a suit. Besides, I hope I will continue to lose weight, and if I do, then any suit I buy right now would also be too big.
I like to look my best at these functions. I will wear what makes me feel most comfortable and looks the best on me. But, as much as I want everything to look good on me, I can’t help but wonder what others will think if I wear a particular piece of clothing a certain way. I can’t help but create these internal struggles that I can only see and feel. I don’t want to believe that these thoughts are my truths, but they sometimes take precedence. While I don’t compare myself to others usually, I can’t help but feel that I have to act, talk, or look a certain way to be allowed to be a part of someone else’s world instead of just trusting myself that I am enough to be loved for who I am.
The American financier and statesman Bernard M. Baruch once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” While this is excellent advice, I have the university’s administration to impress tonight. I have met our new university president only once for a few minutes back in October. He started a year ago, but we have had little contact with him in person because of the pandemic. There will be other big wigs there as well, but I hope I can go by Baruch’s maxim: “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Below are a few pieces of advice I am trying to take to heart:
- Be kind to myself and appreciate who I am
- Resist the urge to please others constantly
- Only say things I mean
- Get to know myself better
- Try not to overanalyze and be fully present in every moment.
- And finally, as RuPaul sings in her song “Sissy That Walk”:
Pick myself up, turn the world on its head
Don’t forget what my mama said
People talking since the beginning of time
Unless they’re paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind