Much as I think this would make a great name for a band, this story is actually about a sweater. I was in the market for a new cardigan to replace one I have that’s falling apart, and I wanted a light material with a zipper, surprisingly hard to find. However, while the aisles of a voluminous thrift shop, I found one – not black, like I’d wanted, but purple with pink and white snowflakes. It was so pretty that I couldn’t resist, but when I tried it on, it looked completely different and just not right. I went to put it back and then was transfixed by how nice it was and so tried it on again – off, on, fuss – repeat, until I had finally decided that it just wasn’t going to work.
At the moment when I was putting it back on its hanger, a saleslady came by and remarked on how lovely it was. I explained my dilemma of the on vs off scenario, and when I tried it on, she immediately proclaimed, ‘Oh, you look frumpy in that. Don’t buy it!’ I was surprised at her candidness but was actually relieved that she confirmed what I’d been thinking too.
Later, I got to thinking about how something can seem so right and then when we ‘try it on’ it doesn’t suit us at all. This isn’t that unusual, but maybe what’s more surprising is how often we still want the item regardless, perhaps because we feel we ought to. Or maybe the object or experience genuinely looks appealing from the outside and so we feel that we should want it – maybe because societal pressures make us believe that we need it in order to be happy.
I think if you try something and it doesn’t work for you, no matter how objectively desirable it seems, it’s perfectly okay to reject it. We are all the architects of our own lives and must construct the details of our own dwelling according to what feels right to us. And just like snowflakes, this will be unique and different for everyone, so we must tailor our experiences to what better fits our own sensibilities or beliefs. This last metaphor would work better if I could actually sew a button, which I can’t. Thank goodness for zippers, or in desperate times – safety pins – until the right fit truly comes along.