There is an ad on TV at the moment for a dating agency RSVP. Three times the woman heads off on a date, each time in a different set of clothes, style and venue. The fourth one she arrives home with man in tow and she is just herself (although well groomed and with high heels). I am looking for a new job at the moment and I feel like a chameleon too – making myself fit and look attractive to each potential suitor. I seem to have an endless capacity in being able to show myself in different ways to fit the job description and somehow I can also hear myself saying “pick me pick me”. My RSVP seems to be Linked In and several HR firms are becoming my match making introduction agencies. I know that I need to fall in love with the ideas or the people or preferably both so that my passion will come through and I can embrace and be embraced by a job. This seems to be all apart of the intimacy that work and the workplace can be.
As I leave a job I loved and one that I can’t continue with for a whole lot of reasons that won’t appear in a blog I do think the relationship between you and your work has a level of intimacy that needs attention. I for one can’t work without some mutuality and love.
David Whyte writes a bit about this in his book The Three Marriages – the three marriages being your loved one, your work and yourself. He makes a thesis that we should be striving for a marriage of marriages as opposed to the idea of a work-life balance. I like this idea a lot. I am not good at dualism and seem to function best when I am working with connections and a deep centre where everything is connected to everything else.
Last year I read Melissa Gregg’s book Work’s Intimacy which among other things, from her excellent research, talked about the bleed of work into every crevice of our lives; and how technology-mediated work has changed so much for the professional in our time. I know that when I saw the cover of her book with a woman in bed with her laptop I thought she must have been spying on me!
My work in these past four years has often traversed a 24 hour period. Waking up virtually working in one time zones and going to sleep in another. One of my friends called me “Woman of the World Clock” as my Blackberry would beep, tweet and ping at all times of the day and night. Just like any love affair you can’t wait to hear their voice, read their message or see their photos and I was attentive to my lover’s needs and wants, desires and aspirations. And also like any great love you want your lover to be able to reach their potential and enjoy the journey along the way. You want to bask in their achievements and celebrate with them. You want to be there for them when times are tough and the road rocky.
But lovers do grow apart, fall apart or fade away – sometimes they are unfaithful or there is a natural disaster that takes them away from you – what ever the reason there is always an end.
I am coming to the end in my current job and as I leave the job, I can’t help remembering that 80s classic from Billy Field: You Weren’t in Love with Me.
Hildegard loved her work of teaching, preaching, cajoling, healing, organising, reforming, gardening, healing, composing, writing, singing, painting … she was a real polymath. Perhaps if she was in the RSVP ad she too could have turned up to the footy, the dance club, the safari and to the restaurant equally happy? She wasn’t a chameleon but one whole, amazing and in her words “useful” a woman – now that sounds like a job description to me.