Being described as free spirited can be considered a strength and a weakness. In terms of personal life, being free spirited makes everything richer. However, it can be scrutinised and discriminated against.

Recently I met some wonderful people in hydrotherapy, most of them over twice my age. When I finished the programme a lady told me that I was the nicest young man she had ever met. She seemed surprised, like my appearance would suggest otherwise. We had spoken before about our lives and my tattoos and her children etc. After we got to know each other she told me I was a ‘free spirit.’ That made me so happy.

Why are we not all free spirits?

I get told that I should take my piercings out; I get told that I should not have a ‘stupid’ haircut, that I should look more professional and act my age. Well, I agree that I am young and I still have some growing up to do; I tend to try and find joy in everything that I am doing. I like to be silly whilst going around a supermarket or embarrass my friends by acting a fool in public. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that. I can be serious when I need to be serious and do you know what? I dread the day (if it ever comes) that I become a joyless, lifeless adult

A lot of us are constantly struggling to assimilate into an out-dated and unhealthy work ethic. The world is changing; I’d like to think so anyway. We should be celebrated for what makes us individuals not shamed and penalised for standing out. We are expected to compartmentalise our souls for five days a week. We put on a performance – a façade of interest, concern and professionalism for things we really don’t care about. In my experience this defragmentation of the self becomes destructive and can leave you forgetting who you are as a person.

I tried to become an ‘adult.’ I toned down my appearance and stood out less between the ages of 19 to 21. I was under the impression that I should grow out of that ‘phase’ of my life so I could join the daily grind. I felt very disconnected from myself and honestly quite miserable and lost. I realised that you can’t force yourself to be something you’re not and the second I cared less about fitting in the more the old me resurfaced.  I changed my hair and style back to something considered more ‘edgy’ and I started to feel more confident and at one with myself. At the time I was in management, customers would seem surprised that someone who looked the way I do was capable of responsibility.

This is a problem.

I understand that everybody has to be professional and have a work persona but I have been witness to friends’ personalities (and my own) slipping away. Suddenly, all that can be spoken about is budgets cuts, overtime or how the boss promises a promotion next year – a promotion that will likely never happen.

Why is it that snakes in suits pummel us with an expectation of conformity? We are only able to be human when it is convenient for them. I can turn up to work in the same uniform as everyone else and do any job to the same standard as anyone else (if not better). What does it matter if I have a tattoo on my arm or small bits of metal in my ears?

Is it such a terrible thing to be an individualist?

It shouldn’t matter how we look. How does the way that I style my hair affect my productivity, my personal motivation or my intelligence? People can look at me and instantly label me something I am not.

We should feel pride when we stand out. We should be glad that to rise above mediocrity and know that the things we do – we do because we chose it. Shouldn’t we all stay passionate and driven and not be dulled down or subjugated? Wherever our careers go, individuality should be something that adds value, not something that inhibits.


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