You never realize how good it feels to be free from the horrid uniforms that you have to wear in retail (or most corporate, customer-facing companies, for that matter), until you finally are free. For years, I hated wearing my various companies’ uniforms. It didn’t make me feel like part of the team at all, it just made me feel frumpy and unnoticed, if anything else. I looked just like everyone else, so there was nothing unique or individual about me. Fortunately, when I started my job at this new company a few weeks ago, one of the many blessings that came with it is that, while I still have to wear professional clothing, it can still be business casual. And, even more importantly, every Friday is casual Friday. We’re talking jeans and t-shirts or hoodies! Yay!
Now, I never really realized how badly uniforms affected me emotionally until my last few months at my former company. I was craving some sort of self-expression, and I finally found a shrug that the company had created for us to wear, and since I could wear solid-colored shirts underneath it (gray, blue, black, white, etc.) I felt semi-empowered. I finally had a choice in regard to what I wore! And it finally gave me an excuse to wear jewelry! Normally, I only wear my wedding ring and that’s it, because there haven’t really been many opportunities for me to express myself in the workplace. Now, however, that has all changed. At my new company, I can wear a nice sweater, a dress, pretty much whatever I want as long as it meets the business-casual criteria, which really isn’t all that hard to fulfill at all.
There are many reasons why my depression has lifted, and most of them are job-related, but I think my clothing is honestly the biggest reasons. Perhaps it also has to do with the fact that we have casual Fridays. I love wearing some of my favorite t-shirts with various sayings on them to work, to see who gets the reference. So far, this is the only one that I have worn on a casual Friday, and no one really noticed it, but I’m hoping they eventually will.
I also found out that we have a Christmas party every year at my company, and do Secret Santa. We had that at my last company, but it was a holiday party, and Secret Santa had to be called “Secret Friend.” However, this company is so laid-back that I don’t think most people mind calling it Christmas or Secret Santa. Anyway, I’m going to find out if the party happens during the workday, or after-hours. If it is hosted after-hours, and if we don’t have to dress professionally for it, or if we have an ugly sweater contest, then I am totally going to wear this. I bought it specifically for use around the holidays for two reasons. First, I love the Lion King. It is absolutely my favorite Disney movie ever. Second, who doesn’t want an ugly Christmas sweater?
Finally, being able to dress the way that I want to opens up more doors for me in terms of conversation, which means that I can spark more friendships, find common interests, get recommendations on where to shop for certain items, etc. There’s just so much freedom in wearing what you want. I fully believe that we wear that which we want to define us, because we like it, and our likes and dislikes are part of who we are. Therefore, when I can wear what I want, part of my true identity comes out. I don’t feel like I have to hide in my shell anymore, I can just be myself. And what a beautiful feeling it is to simply be oneself.