This hasn’t happened in a while, but recently I was on the receiving end of a comment that went (and I’m paraphrasing) something like, “well, it’s not like you’re so busy, I mean, you just work at home. You don’t even have any kids!”. All I could do, really, was stare, and blink a few times. Just. I just work at home. What I used to think when someone would ask me that is, so, somehow, my time is… less valuable? But don’t worry, y’all, it didn’t really ruffle my feathers longer than it took me to smile (if somewhat wanly) and say, “working at home isn’t what you think it’s like.”
And I think that’s the crux of it — people who think “you just work at home” don’t really have a concept of actually working at home. They probably imagine it’s all coffee breaks on the porch and meeting friends for long martini lunches (ok, that part is true) all the time in the world to accomplish both your work AND your house to-do lists, because, after all, you’re already AT home, right?
I know that all of us, every single one, has had something insensitive said to us at some point – and it’s hard to remember (but a good life lesson) is that sometimes (most times, perhaps) that it’s not truly insensitive but more… uninformed. They’re not being hurtful, they might even be genuinely curious (and maybe just the tiniest bit jealous).
But because of our own internal monologue, perhaps we take it to mean something it doesn’t. After all, I get to work at home! I get to play in creative endeavors all day long! Sure, there’s work I don’t like, like bill-paying and checkbook balancing and remembering to order printer ink… but a little part of me feels just the tiniest bit guilty for being able to play while I work. After all, how many people get to do that? How many people live the dream? And maybe I’m a little guilty about that – I mean, if “they” knew how much fun I was really having, would “they” make me stop?
It seems like only artists (writers, actors, musicians, painters, potters, blacksmiths, and so on) get to combine work and play. And good golly, if everyone knew how much fun that was, how much the good days outweigh the bad, everyone would do it! Well, OK, maybe not literally everyone… when I worked at the Engineering company, more than half the people who worked there clearly thrived on the office environment. I was not one of them. I don’t thrive in that type of culture.
But some people do, I suppose. And they’re curious, or dismissive, or secretly jealous, or maybe they just flat out don’t understand those of us who… just want to work at home.
Which do you prefer? Office? Home? Structure? Fluidity? Or do you think there can be a balance?