March 27, 2016

Let’s Talk About Work Work Work Work Work

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with work. I often don’t see work as “work” and it means the lines between “work” and “life” blur and I end up constantly working. I love what I do, but it hasn’t come without sacrifices. It’s not always been this way. Essentially, I quit my extremely comfortable and well paid 9-5 job to work for myself 24/7. Sometimes, when you are working A LOT or ~seen~ to be working a lot (aka HUSTLING) it comes with some judgement or concern. Sometimes from friends, or even strangers. Being “obsessed with work” is usually seen as a bad or sad thing. If your life is mostly “work” then, Poor You.

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Faux “r u OK HUN” sympathy is a thing – an example being I recently received a message on LinkedIn (from a stranger) saying: “Hi Emma, I hope you can try and strike a balance with your work and life sometime soon” and sent me a link to some new “sort out your life app”. I mean, I get it, this dude was trying to flog his new app. But equally: what makes you think you can waltz into someone’s inbox and comment on their life choices and how much they work? I shudder at the thought of the judgy forums circling the Internet discussing back-to-work Mums whoΒ love their jobs.

But working all through the day and night, with or without kids, comes with some judgment. Some people I know think putting your career first is a pretty gross thing to do. Especially if it’s voluntary. An old school friend who I never speak to got in touch a while ago to “see if I was OK” and check I wasn’t “miserable and stressed” because I’d been tweeting so much about work. They meant well, I think, but equally, it can make you feel shitty because someone has just judged you through a laptop screen (as we are all guilty of doing). You cannot reply saying: “actually, I’m balls deep in work, and IN MY ELEMENT”. You just look defensive and a bit mad. Thus, proving their point and sounding like you need a good lie down.

My friend Laura said to me recently: “when you’re busy working away on your own projects, you really are like a pig in shit, aren’t you?” Yes, my work and my life merge together. This means I am constantly online for work. BUT it doesn’t mean I’m looking for any sort of comment on this decision or praise.. I’m not saving lives. I don’t comment on other people’s work/life set up because we are all so different.

Each to their own, right? Why is being labelled “a workaholic” such a bad thing anyway? I’ve lost count how many times someone has made a dig at me for being “obsessed with work”. It’s as rude as saying “you look tired” or “you should get out more”. It’s rude because it’s inflicting your beliefs onto someone else without them even asking. It’s rude to ~assume~ you don’t split your time evenly, between things that matter.

Millennials are “burning out” according to studies. But the studies also say that we like experiences over things and we care more about what we do with our lives. Research says we would take a lower paying job if we felt more fulfilled in our daily lives.

I like that my life and work blur into one. When you first start working for yourself, you have to say “yes” to a LOT of things.

I read this piece “Fuck Working Hard” a while back (it’s a very powerful piece about why you shouldn’t waste your life working on something and actually LIVE), but really, if you love your work, there’s no better way to spend your life (in my opinion). I think “work guilt” is a thing, especially for women. I don’t want to feel ashamed if I decide to spend so much of my time on it.

I love working. I’m addicted to what I do. That’s the truth, and I’m OK with it.

  • Another thought provoking, brilliant post!

  • AMEN SISTAH!
    I am a full-time student and part-time blogger/social media enthusiastic. Half of my time goes to online activities that are merged with my IRL activities. These “ah you need to give yourself some rest” kinda comment makes me so mad. They might be spoken in the courtesy, but if the work is making me happy and preventing procrastination, I don’t think it’s anything to be worried about.

  • This strikes me as such a good example of how often people view what others do through the filter of their own experience. So many folks have jobs that they don’t love and associate work with stress that they project that perception of how work “is” onto everyone else around them irregardless of whether or not that’s true for the person they’re making the judgement about.

  • I 100% agree with this piece. I work for a charity and run a digital magazine on the side, so I’m pretty much always online, and guess what, that’s how I want to live! Otherwise I wouldn’t, right? It doesn’t mean that I don’t “experience life” as much as these other people, who have so much to say about “work-life balance”. I think that if you view work in terms of “work-life balance”, you view your work as different from your “real life”, which just isn’t how I view things. Like you say, my work and my life merge together, and I am (more than) OK with that.

  • Emma

    Thanks so much for your comment πŸ™‚ Kindred spirits. It’s hard to say “I LIKE WORKING!” without being paranoid being will judge you for having “no life” and it’s quite the opposite!!xxx

  • Emma

    YES SO TRUE! X

  • I once got told by a work colleague that I ‘took my job too seriously’. As in, I care about my work and doing it well. I felt sorry for them. Who wants to spend a third of their day (at least) doing something you get no joy doing?

  • I heard when you love what you do, it’s like not working at all. So enjoy yourself. And for those who say you’re working too much, well, they just don’t get it. And that’s okay.

  • kate

    I get this! When asked what I’m doing/have been up to and I say I’m going to a cafe to ‘do some work’ or that I’ve spent my free morning ‘doing some work’, I then get questioned over what work I could possibly ‘have to do’ and it makes me feel a bit shitty for some reason.

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