Ask Mr. Manners

Rise to the occasion

As we get closer to June, everyone’s attention turns towards Pride. The parade, the parties, the events — it’s all about the events being better than last year. I am not one to decline a social invitation, however, my thoughts this year have been centered more on considering why we tend to rely on allowing these events to validate us. Don’t get me wrong, this is a time for celebration and coming together, but I fear that we have been sidetracked into focusing more on the social station and less on the meaning of who we are. Let me share a story.

I recently read the story of a young man who shared his challenges in preparing for a job interview. He shared that his interviewing routine consisted of researching the company, studying topics and concepts that he may not have seen in a while, and most of all, dressing to impress. He goes on to cite studies which showed that the better you look, the higher your chances are of getting the job. This young man said that dressing in a trim fit Italian suit paired with leather oxfords made him feel like he was on top of the world and gave him the confidence he needed during job interviews.

As is you can probably guess, this individual experienced some travel delays en route to his job interview, and the bag containing his suit was misplaced. He had to do an entire day of interviews wearing sweat pants and a hoodie! However, even without his beloved ensemble, he was successful in the job interview.

The moral of this story is the suit does not make the man; the man makes the suit. Too often, we get a false sense of confidence and power from material things and external forces. Music cannot motivate a body without a mind to consume it. Clothes cannot make you feel confident without a body to fill them and without a mind to convey that confidence. You have the power to unlock forces in your mind to accomplish and achieve anything in this world. The power is in you.

I tell you this story because I don’t want the focus of Pride to become the search for the perfect “party.” This should be a time to understand ourselves and appreciate the true meaning of what we are celebrating. Just like the story I shared, we don’t need party plans or certain attire, to be able to be our most authentic selves. Take a moment and ask yourself, “are you allowing an external source to be the main cause of your internal validation?” Or, “are you embracing the spirit of the celebration and welcoming one and all in the name of inclusion?” The answer to that question may surprise you.

Pride is a time of remembrance and coming together as a community. Naturally, there will be social events, but the underlying reason for the celebration is to celebrate diversity and inclusion. So, this year, I challenge each of you to rise to the occasion. You cannot be defined by rags or expensive tags.

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