You know the iconic scene in the movie Fight Club when the "unnamed narrator" (Ed Norton) finally realizes who Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) really is?
Durden tells Norton, "Why would anyone possibly confuse you for me? . . . . I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not."
That struck a deep chord. Yeah, how many of us crave to be free?
I see so many "Ed Norton" types in my office feeling like he did: "I had it all. I had a stereo that was very decent, a wardrobe that was getting very respectable. I was close to being complete." They were chasing material fulfillment but now realizing the emptiness of it, instead feeling trapped like "slaves with white collars. . . chasing cars and clothes, working jobs [they] hate so [they] can buy shit [they] don't need."
They are miserable in their jobs, not sure about their relationship, stressed about the future since they have no great purpose in their life. They may have achieved what society defines as "success" but why are they still feeling empty and not alive?
I'm not saying that men should become the Brad Pitt version of Tyler Durden, but instead look at how we are as men - trapped in our jobs, relationships, the way we dress, the way we talk, the way we move. And see what we truly want to be.
Every man's Tyler Durden shows up differently but the idea of feeling "free in all the ways that you are not" maybe rings true for you?
We hold ourselves back and worry about how we're going to be perceived. At times that is a very healthy and functional way of being. However, repressing who we are or who we desire to be can very damaging over time as it starts to diminish our vitality.
I think as men we crave to do honest work for honest means. To have integrity with what we do. To feel like we have purpose. To do meaningful work. To lead and make a difference.
We have our own versions of this scenario in our lives, based on our culture, how society tells us we're supposed to live, or the stories we heard as kids from our families.
Tyler Durden represents for me a feeling of freedom, of living your "yes" - your own fearless, true and meaningful version of life, not other people's versions. Where you don't feel trapped like the white-collar drone (or however it might show up for you). Where you aren't afraid of showing your vulnerability or openly expressing your feelings.
In my coaching practice, I want to help bring out the inner "Tyler Durden" in the men I work with. In the spirit of walking the talk, I decided to start with me - to play around with my own inner Tyler Durden, tap into that feeling of freedom and how I would integrate it into my own life.
So I bought a bathrobe.
Not just any bathrobe...In Fight Club, Tyler Durden wears a lot of cool outfits. Every time he appears in a scene he just looks badass and his clothes definitely are an extension of that badassery. For me the most badass outfit is the bathrobe he wears the morning after he has just had sex with Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) - a woman's bathrobe.
It's his best outfit because it's the complete opposite of what you think of as cool, and where another guy would look stupid in it, Durden pulls it off. He just owns it. It doesn't matter what he wears; he is so comfortable with who he is that he even makes it look cool to wear a woman's purple chenille bathrobe with coffee cups all over it.
I went online and searched for that exact style of bathrobe. I found a cheap knockoff, but then found a company that carried the exact same type I saw in the movie. It was expensive for a bathrobe and cost more than I thought I wanted to spend. But the more I talked it about with some friends, the more I got fired up about it. And I decided to purchase it. I knew that this was more than just a bathrobe, but yet another tool for me to use in my own personal growth.
The first time I wore this bathrobe was to grab a six-pack from my neighborhood corner store. When I put the bathrobe on in my apartment, I felt a sense of empowerment and sense of, "I don't give a f*ck what I look like." Then as I walked outside, my heart started thumping against my chest. 'What are people going to say?' 'Are they going to think I'm wie?' 'Would anyone pick up on the Fight Club reference?'
I walked across the street and people turned their heads as they passed me. I forged ahead. 'I'm going to fully embrace my Tyler Durdeness.' I went into the store, walked to the refrigerator aisle, grabbed a six-pack, and brought it to the register. The guy behind the counter gave me a nod and a chuckle of recognition. Or at least, that's how I was going to interpret it. When I got back to my apartment, I opened up one of the bottles and toasted myself for pushing my edge, being nervous and doing it anyway, trying something new, for honoring the rebellious part of myself, for continuing to explore and discover who I truly am.
To date, I have worn the bathrobe on multiple occasions: 1) going to the corner store, 2) at Burning Man, 3) on Halloween (the people in the cab didn't get my outfit until I explained it), 4) for my Tyler Durden pub crawl.