I’ve already covered the social points of first impressions some time ago, there is no need to cover them again. However, I haven’t mentioned that much how your appearance makes or breaks your own behavior. Why? No idea, so the time may be right to jump on that. You see, women already know what I’m about to tell you and if you’re already considering skipping this text also there’s only one thing you might want to remember: your appearance influences your mood and your confidence. Changing clothes, trying out different shoes and even taking a shower or spraying a bit of your favourite perfume will make you feel a different man. I know this because I asked my wife and she agrees. Go figure.
If you are like me, you’ll probably snort and point out all the other texts I’ve written that clash with the above paragraph, because you know I am an idiot and not somebody who should write about such nonsense. Brad Pitt I ain’t, but I do have something to add you missed – the point is not to look good at the expense of your skills and value, the point is to add to them, because if there’s one thing most people don’t care about it’s using both looks and brains to get ahead in life. You won’t be a success when you’re just a pretty face, you may or may not win life’s jackpot by being the best there is in a specific area but you’ll certainly get ahead faster if you combine the two. There is no “or”, there is only “and”.
Introverts like yours truly have been known to be extremists in life, figuratively speaking – not prone to jihad but actually going overboard. We may have the best knowledge but dress like dock workers or we may overlook our education completely to sport the finest, classiest and most expensive brand clothes money can buy without looking like a moviestar (attracting unwanted attention)– both for one reason: we don’t know how to socialize so we compensate our lack of social skills by having either the best minds or the best props. Either way, it’s attention we seek though only a specific kind of attention from specific individuals. I may be so bold as to say we commonly don’t want everybody to notice us, we just want him, her or that group over there to notice we look good, often because we are not able to just walk over there and say “Hi, I’m James and I’m the best at what I do”. We take the long way, we drop hints and crumbs and we think that’s the way to go. I mean, no introvert I know has ever demanded a raise without prior notice and about a couple of years of top performance. We aren’t shy, we’re just not… sociable. It doesn’t mean we can’t deliver a presentation in front of a large crowd, it means we only take questions related to that presentation and nothing else, no small talk, no talking about the weather, no personal questions at all.
Body language confuses most observers when they’re dealing with an introvert like me – we look defeated, shoulders slumped, we fidget, we daydream, we play with our hair. If we’re top performers, we usually dress for confort and not for the occasion. If we’re supposed to dress well, we do it but we wear the clothes as if they’re borrowed or something. We need recognition but we hate the attention, and somehow I doubt this sentence will make sense to extroverts. I do have a theory on this, but it’ll make even less sense so… It’s like a love/hate relationship, we need others to define our value but we think being too obvious will make them take a closer look and thumb their collective noses. We’re insecure, we want to avoid attention because we think we’re frauds and everything we do well is pure luck or we know we’re elite and we think others are supposed to value us based only on our intellectual performance because we think we look bad. Ergo, if we dress nice, we compensate by behaving like a guilty dog, hiding and patrolling the outer edges of the social circle. If we don’t dress nice, we avoid pointless social meetings and compensate by working very hard. Actually, few sane introverts are not top performers – it’ll take a mental illness / depression to corrupt the quality of our work.
The way we look is important because it matches our feelings. Nice, clean clothes that fit, a confident posture and a well groomed body means more to an introvert than it would to an extrovert. For instance, to me it means my thoughts are in order and I am in control. It suggests a disciplined mind and confidence. The one store I’m having a similar reaction to is a perfume shop, I can’t explain it better. After a shower and a change of clothes I feel like a new man, and often enough a bad day gets better just like that. For a long time I used to think I looked too young so I grew a beard to look more masculine, I thought it gave me status. I never thought my skills were important. I’ve never been taught how to dress for or how to use body language to look important, nobody did that so I didn’t think it was important. A suit was just a suit, a shoe was just a shoe and a tie was just a tie – imagine that for a minute, I thought that way for 35 years. It all changed when I started looking for questions, not answers.
To an introvert, a large portion of our waking hours is dedicated to our feelings – seething over the lack of recognition, fantasizing about power and hoping somebody will find our correct value without raising a finger to help ourselves. We spend more time analyzing how our behavior affects others and how other people’s behavior affects us than we spend actually working on improving our lives. It happens. Shit happens. But one thing’s for certain: if we feel confident, we’re less affected by how others treat us. If we feel in control, we’re less likely to let others get away with crap. We’re usually avoiding all confrontations, but the more in control and confident we feel, the less likely we are to take head-on some of the smaller ones and that, mon ami, is the whole point. We don’t have to hide, we don’t have to wait for recognition and we certainly can cope with some amount of assertiveness. I think. Looking good feels like being given permission to stand up for ourselves, it helps to boost our confidence and might make the difference for a whole lot of people.
P.S. I’m trying to shorten the texts but they keep ending in cliffhangers so… I may revert to my former style.