Living in the desert in North America means that the time span you have to use an actual jacket is a pretty small window. There are still times that a jacket comes in handy. This is where my realization of who I am and what my own value of self worth reared it’s head in a single and significant way.
As I opened the downstairs closet that we use to store our jackets and winter gear and I looked at all the jackets that I could choose from. I had one that was from a previous employer from 5 years ago, black and in great shape with a white trim and a logo … a prominently displayed logo. Did I leave the company on good terms? Probably not. Is this logo way too big to go under the radar and/or unnoticed? Nope.
Next jacket was a blue fleece pullover. Pretty good material, warm, but probably not ideal for the light rain I was going out into, so I started to dismiss it. Then I looked at it again – another company logo, right on the front left side of the jacket. Another jacket, another logo.
For the record, this went on for 2 more jackets. And I made a selfish realization at that moment:
I wanted my own jacket.
It didn’t need to be leather or particularly uber stylish or even something that says I have any clue or idea of what was particularly fashionable at the time (and I can assure you, I have no idea what is stylish at ANY time, much less at that time). What I needed was a jacket that was mine.
It wasn’t about the logos on the front left, or the what the companies represented, or even the work history or the memories that having and wearing those jackets triggered. It was about who I was without a jacket.
It was about who I was.
I was not a company representative when I wore a jacket or who I was when I work that jacket outside of work hours. I felt like I wore it out of habit more than obligation.
So other people who may not have a problem separating their work life from their personal life, it becomes hard once you lose your job. It’s a conflict, somewhere between wearing something familiar with being something more than what you are wearing and what you represent.
So my goal for when I had some free income was easy: I wanted my own jacket. One that had a logo that I chose; one that helped me be myself, to stand out (or not stand out) of my own choice; one that carried my personal loyalties and beliefs, not some company that will not be loyal to me.
I bought that jacket and it provided a sense of freedom, a peace of mind that provided me with a part of identity I had given up in return for something “free” from a company that would move on from me the minute they would separate from me. The sense of empowerment changed my viewpoint of work, of my daily routine, and, probably most importantly, my self worth.
Have your own jacket. It covers your back – because whoever you are working for may not.