Am I wearing pants? You’ll never know

I really need to go back to an office. I know that we’ve been talking about working from home for over a year and a half, and it seems like there isn’t really anything else to say about it. It’s all been said – the think pieces have been written; the studies have been analyzed. We know that most workplaces, when they do return to the office, will have some sort of office/working from home hybrid model. I get it. I feel like I’ve been having this conversation for 10 years.

Working from home permanently, however, is not for me. I’m grateful to be working at all, and I’m lucky to have the career I do, but if we’re being honest (which I always try to be), the setup is not exactly ideal. For me, anyway. I love the flexibility of working remotely when I need/want to, and it’s not a bad experience at all! But there are things about office life that I just miss terribly.

So, herewith, a not-exhaustive list of reasons I miss working from an office:

  • The commute to and from the office, plus all the other walking required of me during the day constitute a big portion (read: 90%) of my exercise. I’m not a gym girl. Never have been, never will be. Suffice it to say, the commute from my living room to my desk, which is in my dining room, does not qualify as exercise.
  • There is a weird part of me that misses riding the subway everyday. I know, I know, don’t come for me.
  • Humans! I love, and frankly, need to be with other humans. I’m a social being, I’m an extrovert – I get energized being with people. I shine brightest when I collaborate, I like to share ideas and talk things through. When I’m physically working with people, my creativity is boosted, my already out-of-the-box thinking goes so far out of the box, I lose sight of the box! It’s the little, seemingly innocuous interactions with people that fill me up; turning around in my chair to ask someone a question, having a spontaneous conversation about the news or books, or family or whatever. I miss seeing new and unfamiliar faces throughout my day, and I miss walking to my desk and saying hi/good morning to my peeps along the way. I actually kind of even miss in-person meetings! Not that I’m longing for conference rooms or anything, but I actually like the idle chit-chat as everyone gathers. And I especially love exchanging knowing glances with my friends. Not to mention, the change of scenery during the day! I didn’t know I’d miss it until I didn’t have it anymore.
  • Coffee! I mean, I drink coffee at home, but it’s not the same. I miss grabbing coffee as part of my morning routine when I arrive to the office. I also miss those mid-afternoon Starbucks runs with a work friend – leaving the office, getting outside, unlocking myself from the proverbial chains on my desk for 30 minutes or so. And yes, even in the dead of winter, I still miss it.
  • After-work shenanigans. Spontaneous (or planned) drinks with friends at a nearby watering hole, especially when those cocktails turn into a full-on night out with some of my favourite people.
  • Coming home at the end of the day. Whether it was a really great day or a shitastic day, I miss that moment of opening the door to my home, and with one step over the threshold, I am awash in a wave of comfort and tranquility. There’s a sense of sanctuary waiting for me with all my familiar things, the sweet smell of not-long-ago extinguished scented candles and the half-read book that’s waiting for me on my insanely comfortable chair.
  • The clothes. This is perhaps the weakest and most superficial of my arguments, but it’s true! I have amassed an EPIC wardrobe over the last couple of years, and I have nowhere to wear these amazing clothes! I love putting outfits together, reflecting who I am on the inside through what I put on my outside. Plus, some of those clothes were expensive, and I need to get my money’s worth! But seriously, no one gets to appreciate my fashion sense when I’m working from home alone. I do, however slap on my signature red lips and do my hair sometimes when working from home. It does give me a little jolt, but it’s not the same.

Here’s the thing: If you’ve been following me for any length of time, but especially over the last couple of years, you know that I’ve been having an extraordinarily tough time. I know this isn’t the Pain & Suffering Olympics, so I don’t say this with the intention of eliciting sympathy (or whatever), but this period, for me, has perhaps been the most challenging of my lifetime. Thus far, that is. And for the most part, I’ve spent it inside, locked down, in isolation, which has made the challenges more challenging and the healing prolonged.

But! I will say that these days I feel the healthiest – mentally and emotionally – I ever have. I’m turning a corner and feeling good as I dig into this new chapter of life. But I miss people and I miss feeling like I’m part of the world.

I’ve been in a new role with a new company for over a month now. I think this might be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow I’ve always yearned for. The work itself is great (although I’m just scratching the surface there). But it’s the people I get so excited about. Oh my, the people are truly fantastic. The environment is genuinely supportive and transparent, and everyone seems so…cool.

I feel at home with these people, like these are my people. I think this is the beginning of not only a new chapter for me, but maybe one of the best yet.

I’m not gonna lie though, it’s strange to onboard to a new role, a new company, remotely. I know eventually I’ll be back in an office with these people (at least some of them, most of the time, I think), and that will feel familiar; making connections will be easier and I’ll feel more grounded. I’m making the best of the remote thing for now, but I have to say, it’s fucking hard! I feel disconnected. That, coupled with adjusting to this new supportive, friendly, honest and cool team, has made me realize just how toxic the situation was where I worked before.

I said kind of jokingly to my friends the other day that I think I have a little PTSD from my former workplace. As someone with mental illness, I would never throw that term around lightly, so of course it’s not actually PTSD. But the sentiment is true. I am scarred from my experience with my former employer. It is deeply ingrained in me to feel that I’m nothing, I don’t fit, I’m not a star, I never will be, I’m a square peg in a round hole, that I don’t add value and I’m not worthy. It’s genuinely tripping me up that my new teammates and colleagues seem to think I’m great.

I’m not saying that I believe that I’m nothing and have no talent or value – I’m simply saying that’s what was drilled into me, particularly over the last few years, so incessantly that it wasn’t until I joined a new working environment, that I was able to fully appreciate from whence I came.

And they think I’m funny! That’s the best feeling in the world. I mean, I’m not not funny, but I’ve never fancied myself the comic relief in any given room. I love that I can make my new colleagues (dare I say…new friends?) smile or giggle at my ridiculousness. They get me, they really get me.

So, it looks like as we roll into the fall of 2021, things might finally be looking up for me. I mean, I know there are no guarantees, but given where I’ve been, I really like where I’m going.

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