Do We Bring Our Whole Selves Into Work?
Let’s debunk the myth once and for all.
“Don’t mix business and pleasure” has been my motto for many years.
Society instilled fear in me that there were things about myself that were not appropriate for workspaces.
For example, talking about mental illness in work environments still carries through a massive stigma. Sure, some people dare say they go to therapy nowadays. Look at all the therapy apps that have popped up in the last couple of years! The pandemic made them even more relevant.
Depression and anxiety are so widely experienced by so many people I feel it’s more normalized to talk about them. However, you don’t hear folks disclosing other illnesses such as bipolar disorder or personality disorders. I’m sure those would still be problematic to tell.
Don’t even get me started on addiction. The stigma surrounding it is still massive. Yes, perhaps we’re a little more sympathetic towards alcoholics than we were decades ago. Still, I’m sure companies would have difficulties trusting someone that could relapse and create havoc in the workplace. I mean, that’s what they surely must think. Maybe I’m way off the mark. Who knows? I don’t own a company. But I still don’t feel like disclosing such things about myself to my coworkers and my manager.
That Awkward Question
So when Monday comes, and folks ask, “how was your weekend?” I can’t tell them I went to a few meetings, spending time with my sponsor and sponsees, and continued to enrich my spiritual life. They don’t know I surrendered to my higher power and turned my will and life over to it every day before turning on my laptop. If they had a clue that my recovery is virtually the only thing keeping me sane, they would probably applaud it, right?
I’m sure they also have their private lives as well. I know I can’t be the only one with a mystery. Maybe one of my coworkers is a dominatrix in their spare time. Maybe there’s a pair having an office affair, plowing through the pandemic era interactions. I wonder if there’s someone that has six toes or something like that. It’s possible!
However, I get a little jealous of feeling like I have to hide such an essential part of my life because I’m afraid of the repercussions. Does that mean that my spiritual life will hinder my career development? They won’t be able to do anything so obvious. Still, there are many subtle ways to get away with terrible things, such as discrimination due to race, sex, and other conditions. I’ve experienced all of it firsthand.
Crossing The Line
I’ve shared some things with a couple of my coworkers in the last few weeks, and even if at the moment I feel comfortable being vulnerable with them, afterward, I get anxious about what could happen if they do something with that information.
When I tell my therapist, she tries to remind me why I shared it in the first place, but then I think that I just got carried away again, believing that the world is a safe place and people are all good at heart. Sometimes my Cancer moon annoys me so much.
Where I Stand
I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I’m working hard to honor my truth daily, but hiding makes me feel like a hypocrite. I want to be authentic, but I also need to pay the bills. No one else supports me but me. It’s a survival instinct, after all.
Something I’ve learned in my recovery is to think through my intentions regarding any action I take. It might be worth considering it when I feel compelled to share this part of myself with another coworker in the future. I need to be more strategic about it. Because my mantra is “Do no harm but take no sh*t.”
*Originally published on medium.com