I’ve had a fantasy for a long time: I walk into an airplane filled with seated passengers. I’m locating my seat when I notice a traveler with a book in her lap. She’s buckling herself in and I glance down to read the title. It’s one of mine! I don’t make a fuss. I don’t say a word. I keep walking down the aisle but my heart is beaming.
It’s never come true.
Back to real life, I was in Petaluma last Friday on a shopping trip with a client. It was the first time I’d brought a client to this town near where I live. We were picking out new eye frames for her at Uber Optics on Kentucky Street. I’ve painfully learned that the 2-hour parking limit in Petaluma is strictly enforced. So I watched the clock and excused myself when that limit was nearly up. I backed out of my parking place, pulled forward and found an empty one just a few spaces away. I couldn’t help but notice the woman on the sidewalk in front of me who had stopped and was looking at me. It was much more than a glance and I immediately wondered if I’d just done something wrong. I thought I was about to be busted for something although I didn’t know what. I mean, what other reason would she be looking at me like that?
I got out of the car and walked to the sidewalk. The woman said, “Are you Brenda Kinsel?” Now it was even more personal! Bracing myself to hear what my transgression was, she said, “I am a fan of yours. I get your Tips & Teasers newsletter. I really like the advice you give women. And you really are stylish!”
I’m sure my shoulders must have dropped six inches. This was so unexpected. I went from worry to wonder at this most unusual experience. It wasn’t the airplane fantasy where I got to be invisible. I was being busted for being me! We chatted for a quick few minutes before I rejoined my client.
This was pretty random and I’m not expecting it to happen again anytime soon. But I thought about a photographer who spoke to me recently about a concern of hers. She’s a business owner and she’s often out in public in non-business roles like at her kid’s sporting events. When someone strikes up a conversation with her and asks her what she does, she wants to talk about her work as a photographer. But she feels funny talking about her professional life if she’s in super casual clothes. She said, “Brenda, I feel like even in my Saturday clothes, I need to have a pulled together look so I can promote myself authentically even if it’s at my son’s soccer game.” I so agree! If the words coming out of her mouth doesn’t match the image she’s projecting in her clothes, there’s going to be a disconnect.
I’m often in Petaluma on the weekends enjoying lunch at Della Fattoria or getting my hair cut at Muse. I actually ran into an old boyfriend there and was super glad I was looking my casual best even on a day off.
So I guess my point is that in most of life, I think it’s important to get dressed … on purpose. You never know who is going to show up in your path. It’s best to look like you and nobody else.