As I was boarding my red eye the other night, I was very proud and excited to see a group of naval officers on my flight. Despite my deep criticisms of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq, there was a time when I really wanted to join the military, and my admiration remains.
Then I got to thinking. This is a red eye. That uniform is not comfortable. Why are you really wearing that? So all of us on the plane can oogle over you? Actually, I appreciate your dedication so much that I wish you physical comfort on this shitty flight more than anything else.
Is that what asserting "status" is worth? Inconvenience and physical discomfort? Clearly these people have gone through worse, but who wouldn't want to be on a red eye in sweat pants and a pull over?
I know that this is protocol, and so it is not necessarily the result of individual decisions of those on my plane--but this just reminds me of how I try to live my life: internal validation. The greatest honor a person can receive isn't from 200 people on an aircraft--it's from yourself.
I would not compromise my own rest and physical comfort just to have people gawk and admire me at all times possible. I don't know why we raise people to think that status is the most important thing. External appraisal does nothing if you can't validate yourself and put your own needs over a bunch of bullshit.