Keeping your identity… as a professional

Keeping your identity... as a professional

“A few weeks ago, I looked at myself in a mirror and I realised – I have lost something of myself”.

A few weeks ago, I looked at myself in a mirror. And I mean, really looked. I was pale, drained, my hair was lank, and I was wearing an incredibly fine, but incredibly drab, outfit. I realised – I have lost something of myself.

Skip through past photos of me, and you would see big hair, piercings, bright colours, bright lipstick, fun clothes. Where did it all go wrong, I wondered? When did I become so… boring?

I think what happened was that I fell into the trap of most graduates – the office trap. Now, I do like my job, I do. But, move from an artsy degree, doing artsy things – working, but part time – being around artsy people, to somewhere ‘normal’ and professional, and eventually you stop seeing all the things you did before. You don’t see the bright haired women, or the metal-faced men, or the controversial images pasted on the walls. You see that you want to be good at your job, you want to be professional, you want to have a sit down at the end of the day and have a chat with your other half before cracking on with – in my other half and I’s case – your postgraduate work. You lose time, and you lose the energy to be bothered to look at those alternative models you once so admired. At least, some of us do.

So, now I am clawing back my sense of self. I ordered three Hell Bunny dresses, dyed my hair pink, got a tattoo of a circle on my wrist. I’m booked in for another (more private) tattoo and I am finally starting to feel like me again.

Why is it that as soon as that lovely contract plops on our desk, some of us slip into washed-out, grey-clothed boringness?

Not just in our outward appearance, perhaps, but also in our approach to life?

I know, from speaking to friends, that I am not the only one who has felt this way. So I am putting out a call for stories from you. Have any of you managed to retain that sense of self whilst chasing the big career goals? Any punk solicitors? Any inked doctors? Any neon teachers? Tell me all about it – we can unite in a (very smart) alternative rainbow.

More on retaining your alternative identity at work:

Piercings in the workplace

How to hunt for jobs when you wear alternative attire

Did you know… Vivienne Westwood started studying fashion and silversmithing but dropped out after a year to work as a teacher in primary school? It’s hard to imagine that Madame Westwood did anything BUT retain her true identity whilst working as a teacher. Then again, she did go from teaching back to fashion…

Steampunk attire by AimeeKitty. Photo by Ed Pingol. In an ideal working world, where one behaves in a dependable and capable manner while visually expressing oneself as desired, this would be a fine frock for the office, time machine or gidgets factory.

If Dr. Grymm were a scientist, one would hope his attire would not detract from the validity of his findings. Unless he kept the shaded goggles on for microscopic lab work, of course.


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