Free to be you and me

Ah, Labor Day Weekend. Here we go, I’ll say what everyone else is thinking: Where did the summer go?! Darned if I know, but I suppose I must have had a good time. But Labor Day Weekend reminds us of the turning of a page, the return to school for many, the end of summer hours at work, time to buckle down and start again. It happens every year and every year I’m a little bit surprised by it.

I’ve also been thinking about conformity, because at many workplaces, and in many schools, dress codes are a way of life. And there’s nothing wrong with that: clothes give off a certain impression and it’s important to represent your school or business accordingly. But as we all head back from our summer wanderings, some people tend to feel a bit closed in by these dress codes and restrictions. Summer was so wide open, and now it’s time to work within rules and schedules again. But one of my young cousins reminded me that there are ways to alleviate that sense of conformity: lapel pins.

Of course, she called them “bling” and “swag”, but what she was talking about was unique lapel pins with sayings on them, images of teen idols, bands or TV shows. Small things that can be attached to a backpack or purse that remind everyone that despite your school uniform, you’re not typical by far. I thought it was an incredibly clever way to both play by the rules and yet keep true to yourself.

At the office here we have an extremely relaxed dress code, and are always welcome to show off our own styles, but even so, many of us will still wear lapel pins for something extra. Coworkers with kids in sports break out the mascot lapel pins. Others wear cheer-mom lapel pins. Me, I normally throw on something completely random, like cactus or squirrel lapel pins. Just for fun.

So even though the weather is turning and it’s time to buckle down and get back into the swing of work and school, it doesn’t mean you have to give up being you. Lapel pins are great indicators of who we really are, who we want to be, and what we value. Today, I’m wearing a smiley face lapel pin, cause I’m happy it’s Friday. Happy Labor Day Weekend!

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