We all have our eccentricities. Some have superstitions, some have whims, and some others have plain, unreasonable oddities. Eccentricities give us a sense of identity, something to differentiate us from everyone else – our USP if you will. In business terms, eccentricities make each of us a product rather than a commodity. Eccentricities shouldn’t be confused with those other employer-friendly USP terms that we hear all the time – unique, special, eye-catching. No, eccentricities are more private – things that not too many people know (and probably for good reason).
But what happens when your private eccentricities start to spill over into your public life, and start to affect things as important as your career? For the last two trimesters, I have steadfastly avoided Professional Development Week and Career Fair. Heck, I even avoided attending speaker sessions, info sessions, campus interviews, and whatever else that the CMC and clubs tried to put together for us. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in any of these events; in fact, I was very keen on attending some of them. I would do my research, make notes, think about what I would say to a speaker if I got the opportunity, prepare my 30-second pitch, and then, out of nowhere, it would hit me: Business Attire only.
Now, I am completely aware of how ridiculous this sounds, but I actively shy away from any events that require me to be in formal clothing. Since I turned 18, I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve put on a suit. It’s not that I feel uncomfortable in them (on the contrary, I quite like suits), it’s just that business-wear makes me feel … old.
Refusing to wear formals is a silent protest against growing up from the child in me. I’ve been trying to reason with him, hoping to convince him that everyone grows up and adulthood is but a natural progression in life. He remains adamant. I try to veto him; he throws a tantrum. I revoke his other privileges (chocolates and cartoons, for example), and he still remains unmoved. It appears that he has grown up in every other facet of life, and this is his last remaining bastion. Understandably, he feels fiercely defensive about it, lest he lose everything that attaches him to his younger years.
Now that I’m in my final trimester, I feel compelled to prioritize his future (and mine) over his feelings. On Friday, I signed up to attend one of the workshops during the coming week. I decided to break him in gently, so I chose one with Business Casual. I’m hoping he will see that he has nothing to fear, and gradually agree to even more formal events. He is an eccentric, but I will make him normal. I have to.