Why I Miss Wearing Glasses

Why I Miss My GlassesIn 2004, I had Lasik. Let me start off by saying, that procedure is the bomb. My vision wasn’t too bad to start with–I could navigate my apartment without glasses–but I had to wear them if I left the house, drove, or wanted to watch a tv that was more than three feet from my face. Plus, glasses are annoying. They irritate your ears and nose, fog up when you cook or exercise or move from air conditioned areas, and get super-dirty all the time.

After I had the surgery, I was thrilled with my new 20/15 (!!!!) vision. But one unexpected outcome was that I found myself really missing my glasses in two situations:

Me and my glasses, circa 2003.
Me and my glasses, circa 2003.
  • When I was working hard. I was in graduate school in 2004, and when I was reading an intense article or cranking out dissertation chapters, I found myself really missing my glasses. The glasses had always been my signifier that it was Serious Time, and without them, I felt somehow less serious.
  • Before bed when I wanted to relax, but wasn’t quite ready for sleep. I had developed a habit without realizing it of taking off my glasses some time before bed as a way to wind down. I’d be able to see well enough to read, walk around the apartment, etc., but not well enough to watch tv or see the alarm clock. I hadn’t realized how much of a signal removing my glasses had become for relaxation.

I was reading a lighthearted take on happiness by adopting celebrity lifestyles called Jennifer, Gwyneth, and Me by Rachel Bertsche when I came across the phrase that explains why I miss my glasses: enrobed cognition.

Enrobed cognition (also called enclothed cognition) is an idea that we take a cue from the way we dress to understand how to be in the moment. Bertsche cites studies showing that students wearing a white lab coat behaved more seriously and were more attentive to information than students wearing a white artist’s smock (in reality it was the same article of clothing for both groups). Clothes are a symbol for the roles we play, and may serve as cues for habit behaviors (such as relaxing before bed).

Dressed like a grown-up in order to give a presentation.
Dressed like a grown-up in order to give a presentation.

Suddenly my longing for my glasses makes more sense.

Enrobed cognition also suggests clothing-based tweaks I could make for self-improvement:

  • I might be able to boost my productivity (or at least my feelings of industriousness) by dressing professionally when I work from home.
  • Putting on a power suit before a meeting may not just help me cast the right impression, but may also help me to behave more authoritatively.
  • Wearing “real” running gear, which I’ve been investing in more, might be helping me to train more seriously than repurposed yoga pants and old ratty t-shirts did.

There’s truth to the sayings: “Look good to feel good.” “Fake it till you make it.” “Dress for the job you want to have.”

So knowing my glasses helped me focus and relax, would I make a different decision about having Lasik? No way! The benefits of not wearing glasses far outweigh the costs. I can also replace the glasses with other symbols; I’ll sit in a designated work area at home when concentrating on a task, or pull on pajamas when it’s time to relax. There is more than one outfit for any occasion.

4 thoughts on “Why I Miss Wearing Glasses”

  1. I’ve worn glasses nearly my whole life.

    I’ve thought of getting Lasik – but it scares me a little.

    Did you have the surgery done in MA?

    Honestly, it’d be nice to work out without fogging glasses & being able to take a long shower without getting dizzy/nauseous (from not wearing glasses).

  2. I actually had it done in Canada, believe it or not. I was living in Michigan about 45 minutes from the Canadian border, and the exchange rate was very favorable at the time.

    It was super scary, but I’ve never regretted it (except for missing my glasses a little).

  3. Oddly enough you’re by far not the first person to have lasik and find after a short time they really do miss their glasses. Now i’m sure you don’t miss the poor vision even though your vision must not have been too bad to begin with. I am a retired optician and I have a very good friend that had had -5.50 with some astigmatisms as well and becasue she misused her contacts by over wearing them was unable to ever wear contacts again. So she had been wearing glasses since high school. She told me that while in high school and still wearing contacts daily she was a cheerleader. but when she couldn’t wear contacts anymore she quit the team because she couldn’t see well enough to do cheers without her glasses and she just couldn’t see herself wearing glasses as cheerleader. Anyway after she finished school and started working she got a job as an optician. At some point someone from TLC came in and offered her lasik for $500.00 if she would give out cards to TLC. She was fine with that and so was her boss since they didn’t offer lasik. She came out with 20/10 vision and she loved it at first. But after a couple years she told me that she missed her glasses. She had several pairs of plano glasses from where she worked but that didn’t satisfy her. She convinced her doctor at the store she worked at that she was having trouble seeing at night when driving which of course she wasn’t. He finally gave in and prescribed her with -.50 glasses and he even told her that she should only wear them at night when driving. But when she got her glasses she wore them full time. The glasses did change her eyesight slightly and she now has an actual prescription of -.50 and she is perfectly fine with that prescription.

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