Pajama experiment results: 9/10 speakers surveyed sleep naked
I did it! I wore pajamas to all 3 days of the Lady and the Champs speakers’ conference. They did not throw me out. I was not (completely) rejected. And I was not assimilated. Rest assured that if I use any corporate jargon, it’s only to make fun of it.
What happened? Here are the “pajama experiment” results.
Friday morning, first day of the conference, I was scared to death. Here’s a quote from my journal that morning:
T minus 7 minutes: I am *so* wanting to run home right now. Just to skip the whole thing.
Instead, I took a valium deep breath and walked into the hallway in my pajamas.
First, there is indifference
The hotel I’m staying at is a series of different buildings. So I have to walk outside, along the sidewalk and through the lobby to get to the conference room. No one says anything (although I notice a few of them checking out my duds).
I arrive at the conference and chit chat with a couple of people standing outside the doors. No one mentions the pajamas. It’s almost like they didn’t even notice. I relax a bit because it’s obvious I will neither be thrown out nor completely rejected.
I grab a seat and chat with the gentleman seated beside me. He’s friendly and doesn’t mention the pajamas. I wonder whether I need to find a pair with a louder pattern.
Now they’re starting to notice
By the first break, I start to get comments like “Nice outfit” and “Those look comfortable.”
I notice some people smiling at me or winking at me. Others avoid eye contact.
I also get the first approaches: “I just had to come and talk to you because of how you’re dressed.”
Interestingly enough, these conversations “go deeper” faster.
Within seconds of meeting me, people are telling me about their insecurities and sharing secrets.
At least 15 people told me that they sleep naked. Several admitted being nervous about attending this event (and these people are *public speakers* – think about the implications here)
A number of people said something along the lines of: “I never know what to wear for these things.”
Almost everyone admitted to dressing like this at home: stripping off the business clothes immediately and changing into something comfortable. I told them that I changed when I got home too. Into pantyhose and a suit.
A few expressed admiration for my courage: “I wish I was brave enough to wear my pajamas.”
One woman approached me with concern. She asked if I was dressing this way by choice…or if I needed some help. She thought maybe the airline lost my luggage or something.
I’m comfortable, I’m accepted, I don’t have to eat alone
By the end of the first break, I felt completely at home. More comfortable, relaxed and confident than I’d *ever* been at an event like this – especially attending on my own and without knowing *any* of the other attendees.
I did not have to eat alone. In fact, I was specifically invited to lunch on Days One and Three. (On Day Two, I snuck out quickly to retreat to my room for some introvert cave time).
I even got repeat visits: people I met the day before coming up to say hi again because I was “Pajama Patty.” (Just one letter away from a Party.) And bringing people to introduce to me.
Hey! The Pajama Lady is from Canada
On Day Two we did an ice-breaker game, with “meeting new people” scavenger hunt questions. One of the items was “find someone who lives outside the US.”
Word spread quickly that “the Pajama Lady” is from Canada. All sorts of people showed up to get me to sign their forms. (Someone even asked if “all Canadians dress this way.”)
A couple people even added “find someone wearing pajamas” to their questionnaires and got me to sign them. I cannot begin to describe how wonderful it felt to bask in this warm, welcoming acceptance.
It was not all love and sunshine
Some people avoided me like the plague. They would cross the room if they saw me, wouldn’t make eye contact. For one semi-uncomfortable session I sat in between 2 of these people. Not only would they not speak to me, they subtly turned their bodies away from me. I was officially shunned.
This was the blatant rejection I feared.
Here’s the funny thing: it didn’t feel nearly as bad as I imagined it might. In fact, it turned out to be a good thing.
The answer to limited bandwidth
People who shun others because of what they’re wearing are clearly not my right people.
There were about 150 people at that conference. There was no way I could interact with all of them. I didn’t have adequate time to connect really well with the people who were downright enthusiastic about me and my pajamas.
Allowing people to “self select” out of meeting me meant I did not waste a lot of precious time or energy talking with people who would ultimately reject me. AND I avoided uncomfortable conversations. With a few exceptions.
Who is this inappropriately dressed intruder who dares sully our convention?
By the end of Day Three, I started being approached by people who didn’t approve, and were unable to contain their curiosity.
Two sample conversations. Both women, both immaculately dressed with the whole perfect hair and makeup thing going on. If you assume an imperious, snooty attitude…maybe even a British accent, it makes the dialogue funnier. (And in case you’re wondering: No! I am definitely *not* referring to Patricia Fripp, she was way cool – we even boogied on stage together.)
Woman 1: I just need to ask. Why are you dressed that way?
Me: I speak on authenticity, showing up as yourself, overcoming fear and non-conformity.
Other person who overheard: That’s a good answer.
Woman 1: I don’t care what her answer was, I just needed to know.
Woman 2: (approaches me, long pause, looks me up and down) I have a question about your pajamas
(another long pause, long enough for me to guess what she might want to ask)
Me: I bought them at Sears
Those conversations were transformational for me. These were the “dragons” I had worried about, the human incarnation of my fears (to borrow a concept from Irene, one of the participant speakers).
Yet the actual experience was not scary at all. I found it funny. The dragons I had feared turned out to be a joke.
Conclusion: I’m keeping the pajama shtick
Wearing pajamas polarized people. Out of 150 people, maybe 15 or 20 were really drawn to me. And perhaps an equal number were repelled. The rest fell somewhere along the continuum between the two poles.
In the past, I would try to select something “appropriate” to wear to an event like this. And I would still repel the same people; the people who judge on appearance alone. The ones who would know my suit was cheap, my accessories were wrong and well, let’s just not talk about my hair.
And I wouldn’t *attract* anyone. I’d just be indistinguished in the muddy middle. I’d spend the whole event worrying about how I was dressed. Afraid I might say the wrong thing. Self conscious. So wrapped up in myself that I was afraid to approach anyone. And not interesting enough for others to approach me.
While it was scary (at first) to wear the pajamas, in the end, it made everything easier. The people who rejected me kept a wide berth. The people who were drawn to me either approached me or smiled at me. Which made it much easier for me to walk up and say “Hi.”
And I felt comfortable. Not just physically. (Although…trust me on this…3 long days at a conference is much better experienced in cozy flannel). I felt completely free to show up as myself.
I highly recommend it. Showing up as yourself, that is.
Yay! You did it! I’m really glad to read that this terrifying thing turned out to be such a positive experience overall. Also, Pajama Patty has got to be the coolest nickname ever! 🙂
.-= Josiane´s last blog ..A (huge!) shift in perspective =-.
WOOHOO!! … well, that about covers it.
“Yet the actual experience was not scary at all. I found it funny. The dragons I had feared turned out to be a joke.”
Great to hear that you faced the ‘haters’ and realized that they weren’t worth your time! It’s amazing what little things will set others off – as though someone doing something a tiny bit different is a dire threat to their worldview. Anyway, trying to please everyone is boring, pointless, and impossible, so you might as well polarize away, and attract some curious and interesting people in the process.
.-= Jack Bennett´s last blog ..You should really try yoga. Yes, you. =-.
Fantabulous. I love how this was totally a way to find your right people and am so heartened by your ability to weather the “shunners”.
Huge celebrations- PJ shtiick is here to stay. I can hear you talking about how you got started on NPR already– (doing the intvw in pj’s of course)
And even a plug for Sears! (mine would have been K-mart-that would have had them running)
I am in awe! It is my birthday today and this feels like a present. Even though you don’t know me and you did it for you and so that really doesn’t make sense, but still it feels like a gift. Because maybe I needed to hear that the dragons are not all that. So, thanks!
.-= Stacia´s last blog ..Changes (or not) =-.
Yea Patty! You did the big scary, and you so totally won! I’m basking in the shadow of your flannel glory. (Then again, I knew you could do it all along . . not that I’d tell you or anything.) I’m just wondering how many of those 150 people – particularly the ___ ones – went home and wrote blog posts about you. You may be famous before you know it . . and I can look back and say I knew you when . .
.-= Gail McConnon´s last blog ..Birthday Gifts: Wisdom, Legacy & The Stuff of Life =-.
“I told them that I changed when I got home too. Into pantyhose and a suit.”
I love this. How much do I admire you for your pajama adventure? So, so much. You have ovaries of steel. And I’m glad to that your right people made a beeline for you (and I will take this moment to say I totally called it :). Yay Pajama Patty!
So, I found your article via someone on twitter via someone else on twitter. Loved your report, loved your conclusions! Thanks – best thing I’ve read all week. 🙂
.-= Heather – Dollar Store Crafts´s last blog ..Flower Theme Party Decor! =-.
Yay! That is just so fantastic! I love that you were comfortable, and found your Right People in the process, and had a visible reminder of your message. Oh, yes; just fantastic. I am filled with admiration.
.-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..spring is in the air =-.
Wow, Patty, this is Awe. Some.
“Interestingly enough, these conversations ‘go deeper’ faster.”
And *that*, along with the self-selecting, is the coolest outcome ever.
Amna is right – you do have ovaries of steel!
.-= Victoria Brouhard´s last blog ..Oof =-.
This is so awesome!
Wow, Patty – this is incredible. I’m in awe like everyone else.
So so many glorious lessons in this story, and you distilled them all so beautifully to share with us.
“Here’s the funny thing: it didn’t feel nearly as bad as I imagined it might. In fact, it turned out to be a good thing.” Love this.
It’s like, maybe when we’re rejected and not being fully ourselves, there’s this sadness at a loss of what might have been if only we’d really shown up. Whereas, here, you’re totally clear on who your people are and helping them find you.
So much love and awe!
.-= Briana ´s last blog ..Do something. No, not that. Something else. =-.
You are amazing. Courageous, and funny, and yes, the ovaries of steel thing, too. (LOL, Amna!)
In all honestly I don’t think I would have had the guts (or ovaries) to do this unless enough money was riding on it to finance my life for the next five years or so . . . but the fact that YOU did it, along with everything you share here about what it taught you, is truly awesome. And I mean that in the original, not the Valley Girl, sense of the word. 😉
Well done, Patty, and three cheers for fun in flannel!
I love you Patty!
This is exactly what I go through every time I go to a business convention with a duck. Though pajamas are way braver. And cooler. And now Selma is going to bug me until I get her a nightgown.
.-= Havi Brooks (and duck)´s last blog ..Ask Havi #30: preparing for criticism (and hurled shoes) =-.
Jammies in public….awesome! Jammies are my superhero outfit so this totally works for me.
Funny stuff and you go girl.
The snooty people . . . totally completely hilarious. And I love how you found out SO MUCH about people!!! Other people wearing light blue and gray = not trustworthy or interesting (the “muddy middle,” as you called it). A confident and relaxed lady wearing pajamas = people thinking “well HELL she’s gotta have something valuable to say, and I bet I can trust her with my confession that, well . . sometimes, at night, alone . . . I wear pajamas too.” The funniest thing, I think, is all the people who you inspired enough to come up to you and say they DON’T wear pajamas!!! bwahahaha!!!
And yep . . there were some people who were indifferent, and some people who were downright uncomfortable with the idea that someone would wear modest, unassuming, perfectly-matched attire. But even for the snooty people, you got them all to THINK . . . which is probably the highest goal of any speaker.
Awesome times ten.
This was the best part:
Woman 2: (approaches me, long pause, looks me up and down) I have a question about your pajamas
(another long pause, long enough for me to guess what she might want to ask)
Me: I bought them at Sears
Utterly PERFECT! (and I abjure absolutes).
Love, love, love.
.-= Lisa Baldwin´s last blog ..Hush =-.
This is one of my favorite posts ever, by anyone. The photo is priceless! I LOVE that you did this. I love the reactions you got. The dialogue from the people who just don’t get it. I just love all of it. I don’t know whether I have tears from laughing or just from being so moved. Probably both? Thank you so much for doing this. You’re my pajama hero.
.-= Kelly Parkinson´s last blog ..WWTKD? (What Would Thomas Keller Do—About Your Services Page?) =-.
Oh wow, what an awesome idea! I love that you can find your right people SO MUCH MORE QUICKLY when you are actually being yourself.
Way to go not being a cookie cutter. 🙂 Hooray!
That’s wonderful! I usually wear my clothes (Threadless t-shirt, skull-print skirt, and a pair of Docs) to professional events, but sometimes I wuss out and wear the “fitting in” outfit.
Never again! If I consider wearing not-me clothes I will think of you in your jimmy-jams, sipping a cocktail and networking. That’s incredible.
Love this, I’d be madly cheering and finding out who you were for sure!
.-= Christine Martell´s last blog ..Star Story: A visual tale about encountering difference =-.
Oh, this is *fabulous*. I feel positively inspired!
.-= Kathleen Avins´s last blog ..This probably shouldn’t surprise me… =-.
Well . . . I learned my lesson.
Patty, I am so sorry that I didn’t go up and talk to you this weekend. I admit that I am one of those people that avoided you because you were wearing pajamas while I was wearing a suit and it made me uncomfortable.
And what happens?
I get home and find that Havi, someone I admire deeply, is cheering for you while I was “throwing shoes.”
Then I realize that the problem was not with you, but with me. You didn’t have a problem wearing pajamas to a convention, but I did.
Then I get it . . . 48 hours too late to make a meaningful connection.
I caution others, watch what shoes you throw at the “snooty” people. By calling them “snooty”, you are not accepting where they are coming from and respecting that their structures make them comfortable.
Thank you for the difficult lesson Patty!
.-= Chris Elliott´s last blog ..How to be Mentored =-.
I love how what you did spoke for itself 100%.
Yet, when pressed by someone who didn’t – or didn’t want – to get it, you had a perfectly confident explanation that laid it out as plain as day. “Me: I speak on authenticity, showing up as yourself, overcoming fear and non-conformity.” Just great.
.-= Sandra´s last blog ..I am a professional blogger =-.
I discovered your blog today by way of havi – love it! and love the pajamas.
Do you know the author Sark? In one of her books she talks about traveling in pajamas because she found it more comfortable. Once, while walking through the airport, she passed Bob Hope and he called out, “hey, nice pajamas!” – so Bob Hope is one of your right people.
.-= jacquelyn kittredge´s last blog ..Dog Names and Twitter Aliases =-.
Oh my…so many wonderful comments…what a lovely welcome home. I am completely and utterly overwhelmed.
Thank you all so much.
And Chris. Wow. Thank you for this glimpse into the “other side” – it was the last thing I ever expected to hear. I really appreciate the confirmation that yes, people were truly avoiding me (and it wasn’t just my stuff interpreting the situation). Apology accepted. And guess what? Turns out it’s not too late to make a meaningful connection. 🙂
Love you, Patty! This wins all prizes in all categories! Keep ’em coming, girl. I want more of you 😉
.-= Heidi Fischbach´s last blog ..Minding my biz: Potions. In a mailbox. Freezing their butts off. Help! =-.
Patty, this is awesome. I’m agoraphobic and don’t leave my house very often, but when I do, I’m usually wearing pajama pants because that’s what’s comfortable for me (not just physically). That’s who I am. I even went to see Metallica in my pajama pants and tons of people came up to me and complimented me on them while others glared. Similar experience, way different venue.
Anyway, thanks for doing this. Hopefully it’ll encourage more people to be their authentic selves, particularly in the corporate world.
Like like like like like like!!
I SO much appreciate that you went pajama-style not a snooty, non-conformist, trying-to-annoy way but you had a real message and essence directly expressing what you mean to share.
And for being authentic about wanting to feel comfortable instead of forcing yourself into outrageous social norms that don’t work for you (and most). Way to amplify awareness, in what I perceive as a loving way, for its boldness with a purpose and sense of fun.
i keep thinking i need to clean my front yard and put a new roof on the goat barn before i have “real” clients to my home/farm/work headquarters…… i wish my mess were as charming as Havi’s duck or your pjs, but really – at least for now – maybe they are my red velvet ropes! i mean, if you don’t want to experience my life-changing mama-medicine because i have a laundry pile on the client couch, or my baby is “milking me” while i facilitate the process, then you probably aren’t my right people…… just saying it feels a little freaky…… but dude, my children are important…. little tears forming – i must be onto something.
anyway, thanks for being way cooler than laundry on the couch and giving me a nudge toward authenticity EVEN in business….. yikes!
Yay!! This made my week! HAPPY happy for you, for the lovely people who got to meet you, even maybe the dragons…I feel VERY confident saying those dragons were thinking about your pjs for DAYS-WEEKS after they got home…..its still whispering to them…”maybe you should wear pajamas!”….. 🙂
I hope one day to be more like you! I have a lecturer who always dresses as himself, he wears enormous, brightly coloured pants and tshirts that have wildly contrasting colours and sometimes he wears novelty hats from the Easter Show. He’s always comfortable and it hasn’t affected his job prospects in the least, he’s the assistant Dean of his school.
I just wish I had my own style…
I love it. This was such a refreshing read.
It’s not the same as pajamas but I wore a funky sparkly beaded hair accessory today just because I felt like it. 🙂
.-= Kim T.´s last blog ..more beach retreat creations to share… =-.
You are wonderful!
hee! this post made me smile. loved this story, your brave experiment and all the lessons learned. bravo!
.-= leah´s last blog ..Itty Bitty Kitty Stories =-.
What a fantastic experiment and yes, you are brave! It takes guts to be different…and I guess in your case, to be yourself? So often we just try to fit in and be invisible because it’s easier. I’m glad you shared your story and thoughts…and in the end as you noted, it’s all about being yourself…lovely!
.-= linda´s last blog ..Mary Swenson’s Beautiful Photography =-.
Way to play the game, girl!
I did this sort of stuff when I was younger, sometimes getting into trouble for it too. Usually it involved alcohol and assorted ‘friends’ too willing to encourage me in my abandon.
As I get older though, I find myself taking less risks, less willing to put myself “out there”.
To be fair to the conformists, not everyone has the luxury of being able to ‘wear pajamas’. Career demands — which often support families, including children — sometimes override our desire to express ourselves in unrestrained fashion.
This past weekend both you and I heard stories of much-admired fathers who sacrificed mightily for their children’s welfare. I’m sure as young men, they once had other plans, maybe even ‘carefree and crazy’ plans, but, as John Lennon once said, life happens instead.
I’m sure some pop psychologist would explain that some people shunned you because you weren’t dressed like one of their tribe. Or something like that… Whatever, they certainly lost out on a powerful lesson by ignoring you.
Finally, your adventure left me feeling a little wistful for some things I’ve left behind in my youth. As we get older, we have to wary that a hardening of the arteries isn’t accompanied by a hardening of the attitudes…
I need to start playing again. Thx for the inspiration…
Talk to you again, soon…
Keep it up! Be your wild and wonderful self!
I think especially now, people are worried about fitting into a corporate mold, because of the massive downturn and joblessness in our society. Wear your pajamas! You’ve got nothing to lose except your dignity and some snobs you don’t need anyway!
This is why I started http://wildwomanfundraising.com. Because I was tired of the mold that corporates kept trying to put me in. I have wild clothes, and wild ideas that work! If they want a helmet hair and twinset, they need to move on to the debutante ball!
.-= Mazarine´s last blog ..Do you belong to a fundraisers union? Should you? =-.
I started wearing kilts instead of pants a few years ago. What convinced me to do it all the time was when I wore a kilt to a conference. The experience was similar to your PJ experiment. Friendly open people, never having to eat alone, and having a great time.
After the conference when I contacted people I met there, they all remembered me. It was good to be myself and unique.
Thanks for sharing!
Way to GO!
yup.. MUCH like dying my beard purple!
(HUGE ego-challenges to wade through… mostly about how others would/might judge me … bwaaaa ha ha ha ha … That turned out backwards…)
It has been a blast, including the unknown people who Display their disapproval on their faces … the ‘known’ people who decide the: “if you can’t say something nice…” rule … apparently no longer applies…
And the other end of the spectrum which has ‘known’ people delighted … or even amazed that they are not so distracted as they thought they’d be …
and unknown people across All age ranges, going out of their way to chat with me … or compliment me … or even just plain notice me.
(suddenly I’m worth talking to, by the 18-24 age group!)
The net sum of my research: Most people look twice, then smile at a purple and white beard … (except on St Patricks day, when folks Steadly remarked … “Why Purple? Shouldn’t that be green?”)
And … being presented as out-of-the-ordinary … actually seems to make me Much more approachable!
Love, love what you did.
When my daughter took HomEc (oops, “Fashion”, I mean) for the first time, pajama pants were an early project. That’s when we discovered that you can buy pajama (I love typing that word!) flannel WITH GLOW-IN-THE-DARK PATTERNS!!! While this may not be news for some people, it was a revelation for us. Just think about wearing pajamas like that in a dark conference room!
[…] far outside my comfort zone, things not so far outside my comfort zone feel easier. For example, wearing pajamas to a conference has made the idea of simply attending a conference much, much easier. Jumping off a telephone pole […]
Wow. What an amazing lesson and courageous thing to do. Reading the comments has been terrific too – I was blown away with Chris’ honesty. Saw this posted on Twitter and had to come read it. A worthwhile side trip!
Beverly – thanks for the comment…and for reminding me about this post and the feedback. I love coming back here and reading all the supportive comments.
Reminds me of my son, now 26, when he was at LSU. Used to buy these very colorful pajamas to wear to first class of the day. Always put a big smile on my face!
So the question is do you get back in bed with the pajamas that you wore to the conference room/seminar or did you have a “sleeping” pair?
I’m not a PJ kind of guy, usually just wear the boxers to bed, I sleep way too hot. I double the comfortor onto my wife who also has an electric blanket going. Often times I’ll throw back the blanket too…
Actually, Dan….I don’t wear pajamas to bed. Way too restrictive. I actually have “dress pajamas” that I wear to events…and more, shall we say “broken in” pajamas that I wear around the house. 🙂
[…] Pajama experiment results: 9/10 speakers surveyed sleep naked “It was not all love and sunshine. Some people avoided me like the plague. They would cross the room if they saw me, wouldn’t make eye contact. For one semi-uncomfortable session I sat in between 2 of these people. Not only would they not speak to me, they subtly turned their bodies away from me. I was officially shunned.” […]
[…] K of the aptly titled Patty K This blogpost pretty much summarises why I adore Patty. Patty K: Dream-whisperer Extraordinaire, in […]