Setting aside those who have been officially diagnosed, split personalities seem to be a popular coping mechanism for the vast majority of the rest of us as well.  In the spirit of complete honesty, I’ve been watching it in myself for years.

Every day, when I walk into the professional world, I transform, at least to some degree, into something that I intrinsically am not. I split from Merry Carole and become “Professional Merry Carole.” A girl who hides certain aspects of who she is and what she believes. A girl who somehow feels her personal truths are not welcome in her professional endeavors. In essence when I get to work, I “check myself at the door.” For the most part, I’m guessing we all do. For some reason, the office door has become a gateway dividing who we are from whom we are expected to be.

It’s true, right? We walk into work and suddenly need to watch what we do, watch what we share, watch what we say and how we say it. (Enter the whole delightful notion of political correctness.)

When the whole notion of jobs and careers came about, it was pretty simple: An exchange of a certain type of talent for a certain amount of cash. But somewhere along the way, things have changed.

The deal we strike these days for receiving a paycheck is very different.  Skill and talent is now the least of what we give. We also agree to be compliant when something does not sit well with us. To be respectful of those “higher up” on the totem pole even if they haven’t done anything to elicit that respect. We are expected to be “politically correct” rather than clear and honest.  To be “professional” when we are not treated fairly or appropriately. And most noticeably, to be willing to work night, day and weekends because, hey, we’re lucky we have jobs.

I see this as alive in those who own their own businesses as I do in those who work for others. The players might sound a little different, but the dynamic is the same. Instead of the boss having the ultimate say, it’s the client. Instead of a supervisor forcing you to work overtime, it’s personal fears of not succeeding that send you working late into the night and all through the weekend.

No matter who we are working for, if we are operating from a place of fear, we are working against ourselves.

And let’s be honest: it is fear that runs the show in the professional world. Fear of losing our jobs. Losing our homes. Losing our livelihood. And while I am as much at the mercy of this dynamic as anyone, I still have to wonder: Should the person holding the checkbook really have the ultimate, almighty say in our lives?

Would we stay in friendships that didn’t allow us to speak freely and laugh openly? Would we go to restaurants that expected us to pay for our food and stay late to wash the dishes because hey, we’re lucky just to have a meal.

No way, right?

I am wondering if, perhaps, it isn’t time to bring more of who we truly are into the work place. Speak authentically.  Share personally. Value our time in ways beyond the paycheck.

The notion that we can truly separate our personal lives from our professional lives is, seems to me, fundamentally flawed.

Right there in the word profession is the word profess. To make an announcement. Stepping into our professional roles everyday we are professing to the world, “This is who I am.” Given that, how could our professional selves not be an expression of our personal selves? And if that’s the case, how can we not want to feel as genuine and authentic as possible.

If we have to play the game to succeed, then I say perhaps its time to change the game we play. There aren’t personal lives and professional lives. There’s just life. And there isn’t nine-to-five Merry Carole and weekend Merry Carole. There’s just me.

Joy is not designed to be compartmentalized. Passion is not designed to be compartmentalized. Authenticity is not designed to be compartmentalized.

We are all meant to have and express these things through every part of our life.

Therein, I’ll bet you, lies the trick to that whole notion of: And they all lived happily ever after.”

© 2012 The Book of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Feit Cornette


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