The visibility of pantyhose
A few weeks ago, I went to Target to purchase some pantyhose for upcoming job interviews. I entered the store feeling optimistic, looking forward to getting my life in order. Forty minutes later, however, I emerged feeling dazed and confused, hose clutched tightly in my hand.
The experience had been incredibly overwhelming. Two steps into the pantyhose aisle, I realized that I had severely underestimated the difficulty of my task. Facing row after row of tiny boxes stuffed with nylon tights, my head spun. Did I want sheer or nude? Control top or active flex? Silken Mist or Body Beautiful? The ridiculousness of the names did nothing to lessen the confusion I felt in the face of infinite options. And forget about figuring out what size I needed; the chart on the back of the box reminded me of my ninth-grade algebra class. What happened to straightforward numbers? Suddenly I'm choosing between size AA and Q?
I spent far more time than necessary agonizing about these decisions, picking up boxes of hose only to swap them with others, biting my lip as I paced the hosiery aisle. I must have looked psychotic; I could hardly blame mothers for holding their children more tightly as they passed me on the way to get socks. Finally, I managed to pick a pair of hose, which of course looked identical in color, style and size to every other option I had considered, paid the $3 and headed on my way.
Once outside the windowless, super-sized store, I felt a little foolish. Had I just spend almost an hour buying tights that I would wear maybe four times this spring? The anguish I'd felt in the store facing row after row of hosiery lifted, I realized the absurdity of the situation.
At the same time, I recognized that the bewildering sense of near-panic I'd experienced in Target had to do with more than just too many pantyhose choices. What was really bothering me was that selecting the right pair seemed important for my interviews, and that I need my interviews to go well to secure a job after graduation. I am nervous and anxious not about whether I should get nude or sheer hose, but about what my future holds.
Like many fourth-year students, I don't have a job lined up yet, and the stress is starting to show. With many of my friends receiving acceptance letters to graduate schools in the mail and jobs offers on the phone recently, the realization that my future is completely up in the air has been hitting hard. I can't help but feel a twinge of jealousy mixed in with my happiness for them. They know what they're doing next year. They have a plan. I, on the other hand, do not.
I know that the color of my pantyhose will make absolutely no difference to whether I get a job . But I also know that I'm facing a really tough job market right now, and that my résumé and accomplishments alone may not be enough to secure me a career post-graduation. Because most things really aren't in my control, the importance of things I can control - like pantyhose purchases - has become inflated.
At the end of the day, I realize that all I can do is continue to put myself out there, pray and hope for the best. I might get the job of my dreams; I might end up having to move in with my parents for a little while. As my little sister, who has several years before she has to worry about this kind of thing, told me blithely, "You'll get a job. Maybe it will be in May, maybe it will be in August, maybe it will be in 2012. But you'll get a job." Perhaps not the most comforting of words, but, as she so often is, my little sister is correct. It might not happen on a timeline I had hoped for, but my future will work out eventually. All I can do is put my best foot forward - and be confident that foot is covered with some very carefully selected pantyhose.
Keely's column runs biweekly Mondays. She can be reached at email@example.com.