For the last two years, I have worked for myself full-time. For 5 years before that, I did so part-time. If you calculate quickly, I have spent the last 7 years investing in my business without having or needing a boss who looks over my shoulder. I have enjoyed not having to report the exact minute at which I started my day, how long I took over lunch, and whether or not that was really a dentist appointment. Seven years of freedom then, right? Right.
Why then do I still feel guilty when I stay at the breakfast table a little longer than usual for a chat with my husband? Why then do I still feel guilty shutting the computer off early on a Friday afternoon to go to the beach? Why then do I still feel guilty when I watch an episode of the Gilmore Girls over my lunch break? Where does that guilt come from? By now, I should've adjusted to my new reality and learned that no one will know if I decide not to work all week. No one will call me in their office if I spend too much time on Facebook. Yet the years I spent working in the corporate world (10 in all) have ingrained in me a deep-seated feeling of guilt that is incredibly hard to shake off.
"By now, I should've adjusted to my new reality and learned that no one will know if I decide not to work all week. No one will call me in their office if I spend too much time on Facebook... Why then do I still feel guilty?"
Today's work culture comes with complicated rules for using your holiday time off, all sorts of gadgets that can tell your boss whether you are indeed sitting at your desk, slaving away at whatever project was thrown at you. Breaks are regulated, lunches are timed and evenings are spent answering emails and text messages. Add to this grey cubicles that are as compact as possible in environments completely devoid of any humanity or colour, and you wonder why Millenials are not too keen to follow in the path laid by the generation before them.
It should come as no surprise that graduates with expensive tuition loans to repay, no certainty of ever finding a spouse with whom to share a mortgage (a must, if you want to own a property!), stagnating salaries and stifling income tax levels are choosing to spend their money on experiences instead of things and their time on passion projects instead of career advancement.
Last May, my husband and I left Canada to travel the world with no precise return date. Proud ambassadors of the digital nomad revolution, we are learning to work from anywhere, to discover new countries and lifestyles. Every morning, we are learning to make the most of our day, not only survive it. We have gotten out of the zombie walk to live with intention. There are no road maps to follow, but the effort is worth it.
Maybe it is the shock of a new culture, maybe it is simply a matter of time passing, but I am finally, slowly, learning to go of the guilt that drives corporate culture. I am finally getting free of the (crushing) need to "fit in", of having to play the (nasty) game of office politics and kowtowing to bosses who wield the (unnatural) power of deciding how I can or cannot live my life.