I am very aware of some of the first impressions I give off. I know that when people first meet me they may immediately notice that I’m short, or that I know a lot about baseball or that I look vaguely like some sort of Asian. But I also know one thing about me that catches a lot of attention is the way I dress.
I don’t think I’ve made a single friend in New Paltz who hasn’t asked me “Why do you dress that way?” I usually respond with the simple answer that I just like to. But there is a bit of a story as to why you’ve probably seen me walking around campus wearing a tie.
For those who have never seen me, I tend to wear very fancy clothes on a regular basis. My outfits usually consist of a nice button down shirt and skinny jeans with a sweater or tie mixed in. I’m the first to admit that I overdress and sometimes look like a Burger King manager or a professor trying to appeal to his younger students. I don’t dress like most college students who usually just wear clothes because they have to wear something while they sit in class.
My interesting fashion sense has only been a recent trend. Truthfully in high school I looked very, very different than I do now. Scroll down my Facebook page and you’ll eventually come across pictures of me with long hair. Really, really long hair. Hair that made many people mistake me for a girl on a daily basis. My friends never let me forget that my hair used to be way past my shoulders, and I would give a lot to go back in time and give my 14-year-old self a haircut.
Not only was my hair outlandishly long, but all of my clothes were very baggy. These days I wear skinny jeans almost every day, but not all that long ago I was wearing pants that were noticeably a few sizes big on me. To go along with that, I often wore a hoodie that was so oversized my hands were buried in my sleeves. Throw in a worn out pair of sneakers that I wore every day for years, and you have a very different looking Michael Rosen than you do today.
That is certainly a factor as to why I dress the way I currently do. I almost feel as though I need to make up for lost time when I had no idea how to dress well and did not know that you shouldn’t go years in between haircuts. But there is another reason why I went from a baggy hoodie to a tie, and I don’t really like to admit it.
I had a friend in high school, Chris, who has been dressing the way I currently do for years. Let’s just say that he had no trouble getting girls to notice and like him.
Early on in my senior year of high school I finally broke up with a girl I had been with for almost two years, even though she was not exactly loyal to me. I finally cut my hair the summer prior, but I was still sporting my baggy clothes and worn out sneakers as I tried to get over someone who really hurt me.
As I got over the breakup, I started to get feelings for a friend of mine and the two of us got very close as the year went on. The last week of school I confessed my feelings, only to have her tell me that she liked Chris.
My confidence at this point was completely in the toilet. Chris eventually found out about all of this and made a proposition: change up my wardrobe right before I leave for college with the goal of boosting my confidence.
I wasn’t really into the idea at first, but when we went clothes shopping and I tried on various outfits I began to feel a lot better about myself. So right before I got to college I began to wear my button down shirts and skinny jeans. One month at this school and I got a girlfriend, and I couldn’t help but feel as though the clothes had some part of it. That relationship is no longer going on, but that’s a different story.
For a very long time I wore my clothes as a confidence booster. I got dumped and rejected with my baggy clothes, then as soon as I change things up I find myself in a relationship. I felt good wearing them, but it almost felt like a cover up for the fact that I lacked confidence in myself. I would always overdress to compensate for the fact that I thought I lacked a lot of good qualities. I was trying to pretend that long-haired, baggy clothes-wearing Michael Rosen who always got rejected never existed. I may have had nice outfits, but I was missing something far more important than that.
However, recently I have felt much more confident with myself and I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to wear skinny jeans and a tie to be Michael Rosen. I would be just as awesome if I started wearing my baggy clothes and beaten up sneakers again. Clothes do not define a person. It’s a very simple rule that took me quite a while to realize.
But with that being said, don’t expect me to stop wearing my nice clothes any time soon. It may not be a coping mechanism anymore, but I still like how I look in what I wear. My clothes are a part of who I am, but they do not make me who I am. The old saying that, “It is better to look good than feel good” is simply not true. Instead, I’m going to look good and feel good.