Taking Off the Mask

At every job I’ve ever had I wore a (metaphorical) mask. I’ve never been quite comfortable in the workplace, and always felt the need to hide, or at least suppress, parts of my personality and life.  Some people might say that I have not been authentic.

How many other people are doing the same thing? When you get up and go to work, how much of your “real” self do you take along? When I was teaching, I even referred to “Mrs. Stewart” who felt like quite a distinct person from “dava.” That was the only time I actually named my alter-ego, but it’s always felt like I was pretending to be someone different in a work setting.

After getting laid of in April, one of the first things I did was get my hair dyed a rainbow of colors. So many people said, “I love your hair. I could never do that because my boss wouldn’t like it.”

It was then I realized how nice it will be to work at home, for myself. “Nice” isn’t the right word. Maybe “liberating” or “revolutionary.” Whatever. I can be me. And not just in choice of wardrobe, hair, and overall appearance. I can be me in my dealings with clients and prospective clients.

Why has it taken 3 months for this to really sink in? Is the “work persona” something most people experience? If so, why are we doing this? Why can’t we start being ourselves? Who gets to determine how we should behave at work?

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