I am a “hat person.” Or at least this is what I’ve been told repeatedly throughout my life. I’d be somewhere, try on a hat for giggles, and someone around me would say, “You look great in that hat. I wish I could wear hats,” as if wearing hats is some kind of fashion dream that only a few can attain. Maybe it is. I’m not sure. But the truth is that despite my being a hat person, I have never worn hats. I assume this is because I’m kind of shy and feel that hats require a certain outgoing attitude I have never possessed. I prefer to blend into the wallpaper and become invisible. And unless British or you’re wearing a baseball cap at a game or you’re wearing a knit hat on a ski slope, a hat draws attention to you.
Yet for years, buoyed by compliments from others, I’ve bought hats, squirreled them away, and imagined I would one day wear them. I would conjure elaborate scenarios whereby I’d be wearing a hat and having a fabulous adventure, something positively Audrey Hepburn-ish; but I never got up the nerve to put one of my many hats on my head and actually go out in public. So, they’ve sat in boxes in our storage room and on shelves in my closet, completely ignored and collecting dust. Last fall as I was doing my semi-yearly closet clean out, I came across a bevy of neglected hats and vowed to stop being such a wimp. I promised myself I would start wearing hats more often, which is to say I would start wearing them more often than never.
The only way to get myself out of my self-consciousness was to force myself to wear them for a solid period of time until it felt not quite so conspicuous. I chose a week as the appropriate time period, figuring that it was long enough to get me used to hats but not so long that suddenly people would start asking me, “What’s up with the hats?” I also decided that I couldn’t count it as a day of wearing a hat if I didn’t go out in public while wearing it…at least for a little while. I mean, there’s no point in wearing a hat to get over your hat phobia if you don’t pointedly announce to the world, “Hey…there’s a hat intentionally placed on my head.”
I’m a gifted avoider. I put off my Week of Hats for months. Then, finally tired of the disappointment I would feel in myself each time I opened my closet and saw those hats judging me, I decided last Monday would begin my official Week of Hats. I spent Sunday night figuring out appropriate outfits to go with the hats. Because hats are an accessory, I had to make it look as if I cleverly tossed the hat on with this darling outfit because I am quite fashion savvy. There is nothing further from the truth. I am a fashion kindergartner.
Still, Monday came around and I got dressed, put on a hat, and went out into the world. At first I was sure people were staring. I felt out of place and uncomfortable. But then I would get a grip and stop over-thinking it. The more I acted as if it was completely unremarkable for a hat person like me to be wearing a hat, the less self-conscious I felt. It was the old “fake it until you make it” scheme and it was working. By day three, I didn’t notice if people were looking at me. By day six, I didn’t care if people were looking at me.
You know what I had forgotten? Everyone is wrapped up in their own personal drama, oblivious to what is going on around them. How silly had I been to imagine that people were actually regarding me at all? And, even if they had been, why did I care? It’s my life, and I’m a hat person. I should wear hats once in a while, otherwise it’s a perfect waste of my hat-wearing ability. Now, I’m not saying I’m going to start wearing hats every day in the future, but because of the hat trick I will now probably throw one on more often than never. If there’s something you’ve not been doing because it makes you a bit nervous, let go. Live your life. Who knows? You might inspire someone with your daring…even if you’re only being a little daring.