[Spoiler alert] When I talk about being a "B" can be lonely, I'm not talking about in romantic relationships. I'm talking about at work. However, I'll touch dating life as a boss, in another post!
When I originally envisioned my career in NYC, I just knew as I climbed the corporate ladder, I would emerge as the do-it-all, have-it-all, black version of Samantha from Sex-in-the-City. Picture perfect: high heels, pencil skirts, designer bag, with a Starbucks coffee cup in tow. I would stroll in the office, stop by the water cooler, tell a joke, make everyone laugh before walking into a meeting and winning new business for my agency.
In reality – most days, I’m just trying to figure out how I can wake up and work out in the mornings, shower, do my hair, and get to my desk at a reasonable time with the right pair of shoes on and an outfit that I didn’t wear last week. I’m definitely not rocking a designer bag, let alone heels. (Hello -- Have you tried wearing heels in NYC?) Not to mention I hate coffee!
Anyhow, aside from the superficial stuff, work is also a lot more lonely the more I progress in my career. Don’t get me wrong, I love my team. I work with a lot of amazing, hilarious and hardworking people.
However, the more I have progressed, the more that is expected of me. In addition, to rarely having time between meetings, decks, 1:1 meetings with my staff, leading brainstorms etc., I also have to make sure I’m maintaining a level of professionalism, while being personable. It’s is a lot tougher than I envisioned. If you know me, I’m a very candid person. I have zero qualms about telling a complete stranger embarrassing stories about myself and I have a great sense of humor (if I do say so myself). However, the more responsibilities I take on at work, the more I realize I have had to dial back some of my candidness and personality.
Not that I would ever advocate for reducing myself at work, to fit a “mold”. However, there is a certain level of professionalism needed to earn and maintain the respect of my peers. As a woman, it’s even twice as hard, especially working in Sports. Often times, men have the luxury of being able to glide between “frat guy” who gets plastered on the weekend, but heralded business man Monday-Friday, without much judgement.
Women – we’re not so lucky.
Additionally, as you progress through your career, some of the friends you make will not progress as fast and they will turn from your friends and peers, to your junior staff that you are now responsible for managing. Which is a tough transition, to navigate…which I will cover in another post on another day.
As women leaders, we are constantly trying to do it all and have it all. Trying to be nice but not too nice, trying to be outgoing, but not annoying, trying to connect with colleagues but not divulge too much, trying to show empathy but not come off as soft.
Honestly, it’s tiresome. As someone who is used to saying whatever is on my mind, and often oversharing, it’s been difficult (and lonely—at times). Don’t get me wrong, I still do shotski at the company holiday party and go to the karaoke bar with everyone at the company holiday party. However, for a place I spend 50-60 hours a week at, my Christmas escape is a distant memory by March and I often crave more than just the beer cart interactions. (Yes, we have a trolley at work that carries alcohol and plays music.)
Over the years, I’ve been able to develop a tight knit group of "work" friends. (Shout out to the Coalition) yes—I have a group chat, full of fabulous women I met at work called the Coalition. Unfortunately, we have all since gone our separate ways to continue to build our respective careers, but still keep in touch weekly.
They serve as a deep reprise from my daily encounters at work. Often offering a laugh, or a meme, or a hilarious “Girl…you won’t believe what my co-worker did!” story to get me through my day. This helps with the feelings of loneliness, that I sometimes experience and serves as a reminder to keep pressing forward.
My B word for today (is actually two) and that is “BE ME!”
P.S. - I know that’s not really a “B” word, but that’s what this blog is all about. Redefining your “B” Word”. So today this is mine! Until next time.