The All-Encompassing Benefits of (Still) Two-Strappin’ It
Written By Zennie Trieu
Student or not, you’ll want to be prepared for a wide array of professional situations and personal plans that might come up with remarkably little prior notice. Leave your drawstring bags at home and save your purses and clutches for the more fancy events. Finding the perfect, all-purpose, everyday backpack for yourself will not only make you feel more confident with where you keep your belongings when out in public, but will also showcase your self-assurance with how you carry yourself, and your joie de vivre with even the most unpredictable circumstances.
In the inarguably most sublime episode of the TV series Mad Men, Don Draper and Peggy Olson have a conversation in a diner about the Korean War, heart attacks, Greece, sports, and flying. At one point, Don recalls:
“My Uncle Max said he had a suitcase that was always packed. He said, ‘A man has to be ready to go at any moment.’” Pause. Don blurts out: “Jesus. Maybe it's a metaphor.”
* * *
You, too, should be ready to go at any moment.
You, the reader, are probably not a person who works a job that requires a gray flannel suit as weekday attire. (But if you are—wow! This is unexpected. But, nonetheless, welcome!) So, instead of a suitcase, let’s discuss the ubiquitous perks of donning a backpack whenever you leave the front door in your day-to-day life.
For the fashion-forward: The backpack pictured in these photos is a rose pink Michael Kors backpack that my aunt generously gifted to me a few years back. Like iPhone cases and non-workout sneakers, every major designer and mall brand has followed the trend of making backpacks, whether they’re meant for the collegiate back-to-school seasons or the market for those who travel often but prefer to keep their carry-ons small. Your options range from Louis Vuitton to good ol’ Jansport. I’ll be the first to say that you’ll still look adorable even with a two-strapper on—and everyone looks better when they’re comfortable.
For the health-conscious: Backpacks are hardly conducive to good-looking posture, but one-strap purses are worse—and make the body look far more lopsided. Drawstring bags are also less easy to modify and far more likely to rip. At the fitness studio where I work, a common workout modification includes carrying a sandbag on your back while doing squats, lunges, etc. I’d argue that wearing backpacks on your everyday commute can motivate you to try to maintain as much of a straight back as possible. It’s a physical impediment that can continually remind you to stand upright, proud, and commandingly. You’ll also be more likely to fit a bottle of water and snacks in a knapsack than in a smaller purse or a lightweight drawstring, and if your train or bus is delayed, you’d rather be equipped than parched or hangry. (Also, always have a pack of gum with you at all times. Seriously.)
For the ambitious: You know what can fit in your backpack? Copies of your CV your portfolio, and your headshot—without getting folded. Be prepared! If you happen to book an interview or audition later on in the day, you don’t want to be that person who’s caught without the necessary materials. Walking into the room empty-handed gives off the impression that you aren’t hopeful of your own prospects. It’s not pretentious to keep extra copies in your backpack—honestly, who’s going to know other than you?
For the creative: There’s still something about jotting down notes and scribbling ideas in a notebook that radiates more commitment, individuality, and inspiration than just whipping out your phone and typing away in the Notes app. Physically writing, drawing, and doodling will spark some part of your imagination that isn’t just confined to the same font and size as your iMessages and notifications. Always keep a notebook or journal with you; your ingenuity deserves more than a bunch of random scrap papers or stolen napkins. Be confident that innovation and creativity can strike you even during the most mundane moments of the day: your lunch break, the commute to or from work, or even the ten minutes you spend waiting in the café or restaurant for your notoriously late coworker/friend/lover/family member. Oh, also: always keep at least a handful of pens or pencils in your backpack. Trust me. You’ll be everyone’s favorite person.
For the stubborn (or, more preferably, the simple): Your backpack is your everyday go-to bag for your personal belongings, so you won’t have to do that thing where you transfer all of your stuff from one purse to another in order to have a bag that more closely matches your outfit. With that being said, the simpler the backpack, the better. It should go with everything and, in turn, should go with you everywhere.
For the spontaneous: Something I love about being young and open to life is stacking plans—or creating some sort of structure that allows for events to occur back-to-back or even simultaneously. If there’s a bit of a social butterfly fluttering inside of you, then you already know that people—and life, really—can still truly surprise you in the most unexpectedly thrilling ways. There’s a certain high that comes with buzzing around town for hours and meeting and seeing all kinds of people that, at the end of the day leaves you with a euphorically self-satisfied exhaustion. In addition to your wallet, phone, ID, and keys, pack an extra all-purpose outfit or two, plus your contact case, retainers, glasses, phone charger, deodorant, perfume/cologne, hand sanitizer, floss, and some cash. I know hardly anyone uses cash anymore, but in Chinese culture, it’s handy to have a lucky red envelope of emergency cash that you’re never really supposed to use, but have at the ready if anything goes awry. Also, whether or not you’re a credit card holder, take that copy of your receipt, every time.
For the still skeptical: I’ve just listed a whole lot of stuff to put in an everyday, all-purpose backpack. In reality, my backpack never reaches a point where I’ve complained of it being too heavy to carry. Wearing it makes me feel great because: 1. It’s super cute, 2. I feel like I’m going somewhere exciting, which is actually the case because I think everywhere is pretty darn awesome, and 3. I never have to worry if I have everything or if I’ve taken enough with me. Way better to be resourceful than to miss out on something because you didn’t have enough space in your purse.
For the sentimental: Every time I look at my backpack, I really do just smile and think to myself, “Wow, it really is a wonderful life.”