Wednesday, August 12, 2009
If that's movin' up, then I'm movin' out...
Who says you have to be the boss? As a person cursed (or blessed) with no ambition, the idea of not being the boss comes very easily to me. I have never had the desire to climb the corporate ladder or nurture the entrepreneurial side of my personality. I hate being responsible, and I’ve never had a job that truly brought me pleasure. I am sure there are folks out there who are jumping out of bed with delight to get to work each day, but I don’t know them. I’d rather sleep in and take the dog for a walk rather than worry about financial statements and revenue forecasts. I don’t see my slackness as being detrimental. Someone has to follow, right?
Our culture accepts the fact that I can stay home with the kids or, in my case, work a few hours each week at a part-time job for shoe money. Or, I can be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. As a woman, I get to choose, and they are all perfectly fine choices. Many men, however, seem to have this built-in idea that they are required to jump on the corporate train heading straight for Managementville whether they bought a ticket or not. I can only assume it’s written in stone some place that if you are a college-educated male, you should be the Boss of Lots of People by the time you reach thirty (or sooner) with a staggering salary to match.
I am surrounded by stressed out men. They are in my neighborhood, in my office, and in my home. They have all fallen victim to the “I Need a Big Job, Big House, Big Car” syndrome. It has reached an epidemic level here in Status Symbol Land, and no one outside the ranks of the day laborer is safe. How else can you be a Success without “Vice President” or “Senior Manager” after your name? How can you possibly get out of bed each morning if you aren’t putting your feet down on shiny hardwood floors and pouring your Cheerios into a bowl on your granite countertops? The hour-long commute to work would be unbearable in anything less than a luxury SUV or German import, right? Hey, it’s worth it to work 60 plus hours each week because golf club memberships aren’t cheap, you know.
I’ve seen enough episodes of “Intervention” to understand that I have been an enabler. I wanted my husband to move up in his profession. I wanted to get a bigger house and have the luxury of not working if I felt like it. I like being able to buy nice things for my children without having to tell them, “Sorry, honey, there’s just no money in the budget for that”. I bought the fairy tale hook, line and sinker. What I discovered is that if you are miserable, it doesn’t matter how fat your bank account is or where you’re taking your next vacation. If you’re working yourself to death to get ahead because “it’s what you are supposed to do”, don’t be surprised if a heart attack finds you before you find the pot of gold.
So, I’ve had a change of heart. I am seriously considering selling it all and moving to the beach. This isn’t a cliché or a joke. This is the aftermath of the lightening bolt that hit me, bringing me back to my senses. It wouldn’t bother me at all to have a smaller house, fewer bills, and peace of mind. I realize now that I value sanity more than stainless steel appliances and pool memberships. It really is okay if you aren’t the boss. It really is okay to walk out the door of your workplace, and leave it all there. No working from home at night and on weekends. No checking e-mails on vacation required. For once and before it's too late, enjoy each day.
Look for me next time you visit the coast. I might be serving you fried shrimp and beer, or maybe I’ll be that very pale, middle-aged woman in a wide-brimmed hat, smelling of sunscreen and pushing the Lemon Quench cart down the beach. I may even be that jovial, part-time sales clerk who asks, “Are you sure you don’t need a hermit crab to go with your Myrtle Beach key chain?”
Don’t worry - you’ll surely know it’s me by the sparkle that found its way back into my eyes and the silly grin that won’t seem to leave my face.