Today, I was a short-order cook, a waitress and a hostess. I flipped eggs, mashed avocados, made toast, burned toast, re-made toast, set a table for three and poured the coffee, removing my apron to fit into a new skin: a fresh-faced hostess, upbeat mother and loving wife.
On the inside, I was feeling a bit more like a Vaudeville act, dancing and singing and juggling. Smiling. Nodding. Balancing the many hats I would wear for the day – the many hats I planned to don tomorrow. I would be a therapist, meeting a friend for coffee in need of advice and a sounding board. I would be a stylist, packing for a weekend business trip I felt ill-prepared for. I would be a writer, penning the very post you’re reading this moment. I would be a party-planner, prepping for a celebratory dinner, and I would be a photographer, capturing the event for posterity. I would be a bouncer of babies, a washer of dishes, a greeter of guests, a walker of dogs, a steamer of dresses, a reader of bedtime stories and a maker of memories. An ever-rotating hat model, bending priorities and adjusting expectations until each role fit just perfectly, balanced atop a tidy row of pincurls.
And that’s what we all do, right? We shift and mold and experiment, making room for others while creating space for ourselves. And all the while, we double as quick change artists at a moment’s notice – ready for act two, then three, then fourfivesixseveneightnineten – before we can, at the end of the day, hang up our hats and finally let our hair down.
I’ve been working with an amazing company called Rivet and Sway for the past few months, creating an entire collection of glasses frames, names and concepts based on this very idea. That we’re all masters of our own disguises, proudly presenting our hats to the world and pulling off award-winning performances in the process. And at first it seemed kind of sad, really. Because if we’re playing all of these roles – switching to and from and back and forth – who is playing us? When do we get to be ourselves – hatless and exposed? Why the disguise?
And then I realized something else. Sometimes (often times), it’s not really about us. The world needs hostesses and storytellers and baristas and quick change artists – they’re the fiber of the society we’ve woven. They’re the workers, the hat-wearers. The hand-raisers and go-getters and do-somethingers. The volunteers and leaders and magic-makers – we’re all in it together, tipping our hats to each other as we do our best to work with what we’ve been given.
The beauty of this, of course, is that we get to choose the hats we wear – and how we wear them. There is no uniform, no template. Neil Gaiman once wrote that “Some hats can only be worn if you’re willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you’re only a step away from dancing.”
So today, as I face a day full of costume changes and balancing acts, I choose to set my own hat at an angle. And to frame my day with a spring in my stride, a skip in my step and a glorious case of hat hair.
p.s. This post was written in partnership with Rivet and Sway. Our collaboration is still under wraps (sneak peek here!), but stay tuned early this fall for the reveal!