We are all born an original, each leaving behind the broken mould of our birth. However, as most of us grow and travel through our teenage years we start to see that originality is perhaps the harder road to hoe, at least for a child, and the drive to fit in overtakes us. We then move onto our adult years carrying that need to fit in. This time though the stakes may be a little higher, with a promotion, bank loan, long-term relationship or a business opportunity at stake.
For some brave souls who turn their noses at societal pressure, the original child becomes the highly original, memorable and successful adult. The one that you secretly now admire and envy for having the courage to march to the beat of his or her own drummer. Rhetoric abounds, but in my experience the corporate world does not value originality or if it does, it is confined to originality in ideas and not in respect of individual attributes.
Dark suits, business shirts and black pumps have been my business wardrobe staples for the past two decades. But a look a little closely and you will see a few of my salutes to originality.
Let me start by saying I was born without the accessorizing gene. Really, I am accessory challenged. I’d love to be able to tell you that I solved my originality conundrum with funky jewellery, fantastically memorable earrings, unique handbags and sexy scarves. However that would be misleading and probably a little boring.
In the early nineties when I first stated work, original males wore funky ties to work. How I loved those ties filled with amusing cartoon characters, Snoopy was a favourite. Sometimes, the guys actually engaged in an originality double act by also wearing funky character or slogan socks.Perhaps they only wore them out of deference to the tastes and gift giving activities their spouses, but whatever the reason they brightened my day.
Remember these? Guys had it easy in the originality stakes.
I clearly couldn’t get away with either, so my ode to originality came in the form of the Swatch.
The Swatch is a wonderful invention of Swiss ingenuity, not only that, it actually tells time! Love them, the more colourful the better. I’ve owned at least one Swatch for the past twenty years. A splash of colour under the dark suits and a small window into my personality. I wonder what our choice of watch says about us? Over the years, I have received many positive remarks about my choice of watch, not only for the colour but also for the kooky designs. Rainbows, fish, falling numbers, stars and moons I have had them all.
More recently, my originality push has extended to the Converse shoe. I purchased my first pair a couple of weeks ago and have since worn them to work. I am told they are very me – a pair of purple high tops with small white flowers over them. Love the funk factor and the surprise on people’s faces when they see them on my feet. Didn’t expect that, did you? Sweeeeeee!
As time marches on, the need to conform is waning and it is so liberating. I plan to continue to celebrate originality in others and embrace it in myself. Middle age is a great time to try the new and experiment with identity and it is full of possibilities. It is probably no coincidence that a lot of women this age obtain a tattoo, a permanent sign of originality. Whilst I’m not tempted by tattoos for my own body, I applaud those who decide to express their originality and individuality in that way.
Fortune favours the brave and the original.
What do you do to embrace your originality?
Today I give myself permission to embrace originality.