Arkham (Staying Sane)

Why Pins Make Your Life Better

Laptop case covered in pins

No, I can’t say it enough: working as a freelance writer tops the charts. You have SO MUCH freedom! The only person who’s going to fuss about what you wear to work or how you set up your desk is YOU. (And perhaps a certain tiny demon) But what if you work in a 9-5 office? How do you get away with expressing yourself – safely? Allow me to introduce you to your new obsession: Pins.

Yes, pins: Metal pieces of genius DESIGNED to express individuality. And they work for EVERYONE.

My History With Pins

Ever notice how trends always spin on a giant wheel? Generation (insert letter or descriptor here) gloms onto something, confident they’re the first to discover it. But if you look back through the decades, you find out kids were already running around, popularizing it eons before.

They just lacked social media and needed to rely on traditional photography to document things. (And who pays attention to THAT anymore?)

Same deal with pins. Everyone boasts collections of them these days, but some of us hauled around 50-pound jackets coated in them during the 80s. (Pins were probably even a thing earlier than that, but we’re talking my memory here – and I’m not THAT old) You simply weren’t “in” if you didn’t walk down the halls, clinking and clanking like the Tin Man.

Of course, you needed the right assortment of buttons then. Slapping a random find on your clothes wouldn’t grant you recess immortality. So while the message back then was SUPPOSED to be about individuality, it really ended up falling into the conformity bin.

But that didn’t stop me from finding and coveting the sayings and pictures I loved. (No one’s ever going to claim I was popular) And it’s a love affair I never outgrew – even if pins fell to the wayside.

I continued to add them to my jackets long after the 80s trend died, ended up buried, and rotted in the ground. (As people were helpful enough to point out)


Those pins represented who I was. Catching the light and chiming as I walked, they called attention to pieces of my personality no one recognized. And – most importantly – they granted me a voice I was afraid to use.

Standing Out in a Crowd

The opportunities work for ANYONE in any situation. Mainly because you can find various shapes and sizes. You’ve probably glimpsed a pin or two and thought nothing of it.

Think about it. You see the tiny tacks for:

  • Fraternities and sororities
  • Military support (yellow ribbons are the most common)
  • Cancer-awareness
  • Fundraisers
  • Political candidates

Male, female, gender-neutral; it doesn’t matter. And you can adorn yourself with a pin in formal or informal situations. (Obviously, the snazzier your dress, the more understated you tend to go with your ornamentation. Not a rule, though!)

They’re one of the only opportunities you have in the workforce to express yourself without repercussions. Especially if no one around you knows the meaning behind the pin. (It happens. Sometimes it’s a “club members only” sort of deal)

You get to rebel against stodgy conformity rules – with something that used to REPRESENT a conformist ideal! (Who doesn’t love a good irony?)

Seriously, though, I’ve been there. Remember, I wasn’t always a writer. I worked in the real world, with strict dress codes. Having the chance to add a pin to my blazer collar or lanyard? Sometimes it was the only thing keeping me from feeling like a drone!

And they helped people remember me.

“You’re the one who had Darth Vader on your jacket.”

When a senior official’s talked with HUNDREDS of people at a dinner, how are they supposed to keep everyone straight? Sure, we each had name tags. But do you think they’re jotting down notes? Of course not. (There was a fantastic buffet. People were carrying two plates of food at all times)

They’ll remember you wore cute (or unique or funny or whatever) pins, though.

And if you’re schmoozing for clients as a freelancer? Yeah, the logic applies there, too. (Though I’m not going to claim that’s the BEST way to stand out)

Pins and Personality

You can find ANYTHING when it comes to pins. They’ll support your organizations and causes. Have favorite characters? You’ll find every possible design, drawing, or imagining. (Don’t judge me for loving Cinderella) Events craft them. Artists design them.

The sky isn’t even the limit. (Think the far reaches of the galaxy)

My most recent collection started with Broadway shows. Each time I see a new show, I pick up the commemorative pin.

Then I discovered Karen Hallion at DragonCon. And my husband introduced me to Sarah Graley (those additions to the collection may or may not have been influenced by Tonks). And my laptop case has continued to gain personality from there.

It’s what you DO when you start poking around. Your favorite artists probably have an offering or two. And then you find people who recommend others you fall in love with (I regret nothing), so you discover more. Before you know it?

Yeah, you’re rattling and clattering with the best of us.

And people look at your backpack or jacket or purse and KNOW who you are. They see what matters to you. So they start understanding you. Without your needing to say a single word.

Maybe it encourages them to speak to you.

Or it sparks an interest in them.

It could set off inspiration in their brain.

Who knows!

Pins are so small, and yet they manage to accomplish SO much. And you don’t have to DO anything other than pop them on.

Start to Chime!

So what are you waiting for?

All you need to do is put “pins” into your favorite crafty search engine. It’ll spit out more results than you can handle. Then it’s up to you to decide where to display your new bits of individual statements.

Use them wisely, though. Because you COULD be in for new conversations!

What’s your favorite pin? And if you haven’t found one yet, what do you think your first search will be?

Join the Conversation