Many years ago, I had this somewhat demanding job that happened to also be a really fun place to work, so while it was stressful and the hours were long, I found myself reveling in this because I actually enjoyed it most days. Now, I realize this may be a foreign concept to some of you, so I’m going to need you to really give those imaginations a workout and try to picture your same job just with less stress because you aren’t hating it every minute of every day.
At this job, I had a colleague who worked significantly fewer hours than I did. She’d wander in some days around lunchtime (looking fabulously rested, I should note), put in an hour or two, then float out of the office without so much as a made-up excuse about a sick pet or an ailing husband in desperate need of a ride to the doctor. The audacity!
At first, I was pretty butthurt about her “easy” work-life. I mean, the nerve of this lady to just wander in whenever and do her work for a mere couple hours a day, especially when I’m over here working my fingers to the bone for 10 hours a day. But then I thought about it and I realized two things: A) her job had nothing to do with my own, and B) my long days weren’t her fault. Whereas she was completely content with the few responsibilities she had, I was constantly looking for more work, more responsibility, and therefore subjecting myself to longer and longer days at my desk. So really, it was my fault I worked so much, and the only person I should have been angry with was myself. Well, and maybe my boss for not hiring more people to help with my workload but whatever.
Let me tell you, this revelation was life-changing. I highly recommend asking yourself “what does this have to do with me?” the next time you’re getting upset because a colleague appears to have it easier than you. Maybe they do, and if so, so what, how does that fact change your situation? I think the Serenity Prayer is appropriate here:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
Point being, there are things in life that you have control over and things you don’t. One such thing (warning, spoiler ahead) is what other people do. You can’t do anything about what other people do, you can only control how it affects you. In that vein, let’s check in with Tax Twitter to see what they’re upset about today.
Someone who has the urge to shame another tax accountant for taking a day off, is someone who really needs to take a day off.
— Andrea Carr CPA (@andreacpa0) April 7, 2021
This tweet immediately made me think about the article I wrote last month about how working long hours isn’t some badge of honor that makes you superior to the idiots who clock the minimum required and go home. We should have some compassion for the people who believe this, as they’re obviously so drunk on Kool-Aid that they actually believe they will be recognized and/or rewarded for their sacrifice. This is some weird kind of office Stockholm syndrome probably not worth getting into right now and, more importantly, far beyond the scope of your expertise.
Anyone shaming anyone else for taking time off — yes, EVEN IN BUSY SEASON — needs to take a long, hard look at themselves and ask why the hell they even care. Maybe it’s because they’ve mistakenly tied their worth in life to the number of hours they invest in work, in which case the best you can do is feel a tinge of sympathy for them, hope they get therapy someday, and go on with your day.
The next time someone judges you for taking it easy for once, just channel a little of my former coworker. Put your sunglasses on and flounce right out the door (or the Zoom window your micromanaging manager makes you keep open all day, whatever), safe in the knowledge that you’ve done your job.