It’s been over a year since I spent my days dwelling in a cubicle farm. Like thousands of other women, I never want to go back and will go a long way to avoid it. Wanna know why? Here are the top 7 things I haven’t missed about office life:
1. Dressing For Work
I have a new rule – soft, comfortable clothes only. I own probably 15 dresses that I used to wear to work. I haven’t touched them for a year save for one time when I dressed up – for me. I don’t have to wonder if my dress covers all my curves or worry what anyone else thinks about it. No one is judging my outfits and haircuts. Men aren’t telling me “You look nice today” with their (air quote) sexy eyes (end air quote). Good riddance to dress codes! I shaved the sides of my head, stopped dying my gray hair, and am looking forward to new body art when it’s safe. I might even get a tattoo someplace that (gasp) isn’t work appropriate. I dress for comfort and for me now. It’s such a relief. I had no idea how much mental energy I was putting into dressing “work appropriate”. I’m no longer appropriate and I love it!
2. Sexual Harassment
Not saying it doesn’t still happen. In fact, I can picture the inappropriate texts my creepy former co-workers have probably sent since they don’t have live access to their favorite harassment targets. But I haven’t had to educate anyone about where my eyes are for 12 whole months! And the bonus is I’m not checking to make sure my skirt is too short for looky- loos. Or, my personal favorite- planning escape routes when closetalking old dude invades my personal space.
I haven’t scraped ice off my car when I’m supposed to be at work in 15 minutes, and I didn’t risk my life this year to drive on icy roads just so I could prove I was dedicated. I’ve saved hundreds in gas plus wear and tear on my car. I’m someone who loves cars but I have not missed commuting in mine one iota.
4. Office Politics
Things were heated when it came to politics in my office before the 2020 election. I can’t imagine having to listen to that rhetoric during the past year. In this way, a timeout couldn’t have come at a more perfect moment. There’s only so much protecting- white -patriarchy disguised as patriotism some people can take. Then there’s the other set of office politics. I’m so over that treacherous obstacle course of doom.
5. Awkward Conversations
Speaking of office politics, I spent zero time suffering awkward mandatory (for fun!) team lunches or participating in conversations about things like NASCAR, the boss’s marital problems, or what church people think I should “just check out”. For an entire year, I’ve not replied, “too short” when 5 people inevitably asked how my weekend was. And my fake laughing skills are seriously out of practice. Another unintended bright side – I haven’t had to console anyone crying in the bathroom. I do hope they’re okay… I’ve dried a lot of tears.
6. Being Made to Feel Guilty About Taking Care of My Kids
Since I decided to go back to work after my first kid (who’s about to be 18), I’ve navigated a gauntlet of disapproving comments, looks, and emails about time I needed to leave the office to take care of my kids. From dashing home to take replacement clothes to school when pants were peed (or later / worse – bled through) or going to appointments with pediatric specialists that took months to get, I’ve always worked AND parented. What a weight has been lifted in the form of being able to take care of my children when they need it without disapproval from my office mates.
7. Paying For Coffee
Okay, to be fair I could’ve brought my own from home. But I was too busy dressing appropriately, brushing my long bleach blond hair, coercing my kids to get on the bus and scraping the ice off my car to think far enough ahead to make coffee and get it in a travel mug (let alone remember to bring it home to refill for the next day). So I paid my company for coffee that was mediocre at best so I could be caffeinated enough to tell people where my eyes were AND make money for the company.
Damn, I'm Exhausted Just Talking About It!
How did we live it? How are women who are still doing it doing it? I realize the more I talk about this just how privileged I am to be able to stay home. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows but it’s free from a lot of the trash we’ve just become used to. Thank you to the women who are still wearing the hard clothes, driving in bad weather, dealing with crappy coworkers and risking their health and that of their family. This woman is truly grateful.
Jeni Keeler is a recovering office worker, journalist, author and mother from Ohio who has recently become a Partner at Silverbow Projects and happily works from home – permanently.