My New Zealand

The first online series in Chinese, for Chinese, by a Kiwi

Why I wear a hat

Simon in a hat(This was originally published on my WeChat Official Account in September 2016. I hope it inspires you to “wear your own hat”!)

A lot of people ask me… Simon, why do you wear a hat?

I answer, why don’t you wear a hat?

I’m serious. Why not?

For men, 50 years ago, everybody wore a hat. It was standard. Normal. Expected. To wear a hat outside, and take it off inside, was a strictly enforced cultural norm.

Not a bare head to be seen!

Not a bare head to be seen! What happened?

At some time between then and now, we stopped wearing hats. Now, I’m a little special when I wear my trilby in public. I’m different.

Different is interesting. It can be good and bad.

Different is what you need to stand out and be remembered. That is very useful for career or business. We often remember somebody, simply because he or she wasn’t afraid to stand out.

Different is also frightening and threatening to us. We do everything we can to conform, so that nobody will look at us or single us out. So that we can just go about our lives without trouble.

Different is very interesting.

I believe we live in a time when the old ways of doing business, and jobs, and everything like that, is disappearing, and the new ways are not yet found.

Therefore, we need to, as Steve Jobs put it, “Think Different”.

This goes against our human nature, our desire to conform and stay out of trouble.

Therefore I give you my first answer of “why do I wear a hat”.

I wear a hat because I’m just as scared as you.

I’m just as scared as you of change and loss and not being ready for life. But I also believe I need to be different, and think different, to find the new thing. So, I wear a hat, to remind myself to stand out anyway. To be different anyway. To get used to being unusual and special, in both good and bad ways.

So, what’s the story?

In May 2011 I bought a nice hat in Melbourne, Australia. It was an impulse purchase, a silly decision just for fun.

For a long time I had thought I needed something distinctive. As a public speaker I admired Steve Jobs and his signature sweater and jeans. Everyone knew that’s what he would wear, and everyone knew it was him wearing it. He broke the rules that said you had to wear a suit to do that kind of presentation.

So this hat was a nice idea. But we brought it home and put it on the hat stand. Just for fun. Useless.

Then in March 2012, I joined the Shave for a Cure event. Shave for a Cure is a charity event to raise funds for a cure for cancer. People get others to sponsor them to get their head shaved, because often cancer victims have to lose their hair when they do chemotherapy.

My dad, not long before he died. Note his partially shaved head

My dad died of cancer when I was not yet 4 years old. I have a personal reason to support this charity. So I was more than happy to lose my hair for a cause!

After the shave, suddenly, I had a reason to wear the hat! The weather was getting cold!

See, sometimes we need a reason to do something different. And we don’t know the effect that has on others.

It’s not a big deal for a man to have a shaved head. It’s normal. But for a young lady, it’s quite exceptional!

That’s why, in 2013, I was so proud to get shaved together with my colleague Camellia. Because of what I did in 2012, she was willing in 2013 to stand out, and be different.

Me and Camellia, feeling the chill!

And that’s the other thing we don’t think of when we decide to be courageous. Taking some small courage can inspire others, too.

So… that’s why i wear a hat.

  • I wear a hat because I’m scared of change, but I know change is coming anyway.
  • I wear a hat because I’m afraid to stand out, but I choose to stand out anyway.
  • I wear a hat because others need me, and I need them, and the hat is my way to remember that.

What kind of a “hat” do you wear? What is a challenge you are avoiding, that you need to embrace? I would love to know.

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3 comments for “Why I wear a hat

  1. Mahina
    February 24, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    I get it. Similar reasons to my side shave. I got a side shave because the idea of it thrilled me and scared me in equal parts. Once my side was shaved, an interesting thing happened. I felt braver. I felt less suppressed by social gender norms. I am a cia female, a girl. Girls are societally expected to be pretty. Its where we are constantly told our value lies. I have always struggled with this. Especially when I gained weight and deviated from what a pretty girl is strictly supposed to look like. And my side shave rebelled against this narrative. Its butch. Its unexpected. Its drastic. And I am totally enamoured with how my side shave really helps me embrace the unexpected qualities in me. Butch and pretty are not opposing notions despite what society tries to tell us. I can be strong and fat and butch and pretty and intimidating and comforting and attractive all in one package. I can be whatever the hell I decide to be! And whenever I style my hair or reshave my side, I remember that and I feel brave again. Because I dont have to fit into a stupid box or choose only one thing to be.

  2. Simon
    February 27, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    I love this comment and I love your side shave, Mahina!

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