There is a lot to be said about working from home. It has its advantages and disadvantages from a productivity standpoint. It can have positive and negative outcomes in your social life.
I left my management job back in June to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. I haven’t regretted it for a moment, although I miss my work friends. I noticed a few things in the months since making this decision that I don’t think I thought about before.
I imagined the distractions like my pets, my refrigerator, and the TV were the most surprising aspects of working from home. I was unprepared for the amount of soul searching I would end up doing during the first few weeks I started working from home.
I’ve also learned a lot about how people perceive work, and time, since becoming a full-time writer who works from home.
You will question everything you thought you knew about yourself
“It’s about finding your values, and committing to them. It’s about finding your North Star. It’s about making choices. Some are easy. Some are hard. And some will make you question everything.” – Tim Cook
I have always assumed that I was an extrovert. The last time I took the Meyers Briggs test, it determined I was an ENFJ. This personality type falls in the diplomat category and is known as The Protagonist. People who share these traits are “Charismatic and inspiring leaders, able to mesmerize their listeners.”
Now, I answered the questions honestly when I took the test years ago. Still, after being furloughed during the pandemic’s onset for a month, and then voluntarily leaving my position to work from home, I learned more truths about myself.
The fact is that I think my penchant for Extraversion was a coping mechanism for childhood trauma. The more time I spend by myself, the more I realize I like it, and makes me feel better.
Likely, I am genuinely an INFJ, so still a diplomat, but this change means I am The Advocate. The advocate is “Quiet and mystical, yet very inspiring and tireless idealist.”
Here is what is interesting in high school I had several LGBTQ friends. As a child, I advocated for these friends with a fierceness I didn’t know I was capable of. As I got older, I would get into heated political debates with people who tried to say that being gay meant you shouldn’t be allowed to get married. Injustice, of any kind, has always enraged me.
Since becoming a writer, I have written countless articles about how white people can be advocates in the Black Lives Matter movement. These are ideals that I hold dear, and I will battle tirelessly for them. I had assumed it was the writing itself that led to my newfound sense of self, but it likely had to with the content.
I acknowledged how I always felt a little out of place as an ENFJ. While I think I am an excellent leader, my focus has always been leading people by inspiring them to reach their potential and be advocates for themselves.
Working from home enabled me to recall aspects of my personality that I had been neglecting over the years. While I enjoy others’ company, I always felt most recharged after reading a book or writing a story or poem. No one told me that working from home would remind me of who I really am.
If you find yourself feeling lonely, though (I haven’t yet), there are some relatively simple ways to solve that problem. Look at joining a coworking space near you, such as BHive. If you don’t need something so formal, or can’t find one nearby, then the coffee shop is a great idea.
You can interact with people and watch the hustle and bustle of others. There is usually some good music playing and conversations happening, adding to the noise and sense of social engagement.
Your family might feel like you are working so much more
I have found that I have been getting most of the social interaction I need from my household members. I loved being home with them, and the freedom that working from home has given me.
I had to go pick up a book for my son the other day from the middle school, and I just took a break to get it. It doesn’t matter what time I schedule everyone’s eye doctor appointments because I can take a break.
I can work much fewer hours than I did at my old job, as long as I am productive, which is likely why it shocked me so much when my teenager threw a fit in the kitchen about how all I do is work now.
I tried explaining to her that I am not working more hours. The difference is that instead of being gone for eight hours; I am now sitting at the computer, and because she can see me, she wants me to do all these things. Then she gets upset when I tell her that I can not right now because I am working.
I do say this to her multiple times a day, so I can why she feels like that is all I do, but she doesn’t seem to understand that before, I would be gone for eight hours a day. I would be working, and she couldn’t ask me to make her eggs or take her to the mall.
The difference between my perception and hers is astounding. I feel liberated and can make my schedule and work hard for myself. She sees me as shackled to the desk, writing all the time. I never thought there would be such a divide in the way we saw things when I first start working from home, or that she would feel like I am doing more and unable to spend time with her.
Other people are going to make comments about how you don’t work
My daughter’s take on our new scheduling situation, I can understand from a logical standpoint. Some other comments I have heard from people, however, are simply annoying. I’ve had people respond to me that they can’t do something on a particular day “because some of us have to work.”
When friends or family call and ask me what I am doing, I’ve stopped responding with ‘writing,’ and started saying, “I’m working on an article for a client.”
It is mind-boggling how people think that because I do not have someone making sure that I am working, that I must not be. I have clients who expect me to meet deadlines if I would like to earn any money, so I am not just over here sipping on Mai Thais all-day.
Stephanie Leguichard wrote an insightful article about why people say things like freelancing is not a job, or that those of us who don’t work 40 hours a week are lazy. One line that resonated with me was about our self-worth.
She says, “Our ultra-competitive capitalist culture deeply instills in us a sense that our worth is determined by our productive output and economic success.” This realization reminded me of a Steve Jobs quote:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
I wish we talked more about these things
I love how working from home gave me the freedom, and the luxury, to reconnect to my authentic self. However, if our attitudes about work and life were different, would I have needed this wake-up call?
Society has taught us that we need the newest phone, the nice car, and a big house in the best neighborhoods, but do we really? It is ok to want those things and work to get them if they are of value to you, but it is also ok to prioritize other aspects of life.
I had expected that everything I would discover about working from home would include logistical things, like the importance of having a workspace. Instead, I ended up with questions about who I am, examining the differences between perspectives, and an urge to dive deeper into the fabric of our capitalistic society.
Are you recently working from home or have even changed careers? I would love to know if you experienced similar things! Leave a comment in the comment section below and let’s talk more.