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Shopping For School

The first day of school

For as long as I can remember, the first day of school was much more than the start of a new grade, or the first time in a new school. It was a time to watch music videos more intently, scour the latest magazines, and study CD covers to find out what the new cool look was for the fall.

My younger sister and I would clip pictures of clothes from as many places as possible, and use the images we found to create the perfect outfits. The jeans would come from a hip-hop magazine, the jacket from a fashion magazine with a celebrity on the cover, and together, we would paste the images on construction paper and create the most amazing outfits.

High fashion?

After the paper outfits were completely constructed, the mess of glue, tape, and thin strands of paper laid the backdrop to high fashion. We would soak in the perfect outfits and imagine ourselves in them. My sister would pick out the perfect outfits for me and I would either approve or disapprove like I had the money to afford them.

We would then take our images to our parents, and beg them to take us school shopping. Begrudgingly, they would concede to our pleas, and instead of the well put together outfits we designed, we would end up with a piece of clothing or two that we would have to make into the outfit we imagined.

We would make old sneakers, hand me down shirts, thrift store hats and a brand new jacket look just as amazing as any magazine cover.

Applying the lesson

In my career as a scientist, writer, speaker, researcher and public intellectual, my successes come from the model for school shopping from my youth. I envision the perfect situation much like the perfect outfit. I dream up the perfect job, the perfect speaking opportunity, and the perfect interview, and I envision myself having what I have imagined.

In the situations where the dream cannot completely happen, I hold on to the small piece of that vision that I can have. I take that small piece, combine it with what I have done, and what I do have, and walk into the next opportunity proudly. Down the hallway of life, always in a fresh new outfit… I mean with a fresh new outlook.