Two weeks before my due date, I made the decision to start working from home until our little dude decided to make his appearance and maternity leave officially began. I had pulled some muscles by tripping off a curb so it was painful to walk around (read: I’m clumsy). Carrying my work bag into my office every morning was a struggle. I was tired, hot and too large for 95% of my clothes. So getting into the office looking presentable every morning was difficult. I made the decision because I was truthfully afraid that I would go into labor or my water would break in front of my coworkers!
After I made the decision to work from home, I honestly wrestled with some conflicting emotions. Mostly, I felt guilty for not being physically in the office. I felt like everyone viewed me as lazy or a slacker. This emotion was unfounded because my manager was supportive and encouraged me to do what was best for me and I was freaking 9 months pregnant and still working. However, after being in the corporate world for a while, I’ve learned that females have to work harder to prove that they’re devoted, present and committed. So, it was hard for me to feel like I had much of a voice and influence from home. (Side note: What’s unfair is that my husband works from home regularly and feels no guilt whatsoever, but I digress.)
I was not a fan of this emotion and it caused me to question what was really going on. While the whole female in the corporate world piece may play a part along with office culture, the guilty feeling was mine and mine alone. No one was making me feel guilty, I was letting myself feel guilty, but why?
After taking some time to process, I realized the I felt guilty for not being there because of FEAR. I feared that others would perceive me as weak and uncommitted. I realized that I’m super hard on myself, hold myself to extremely high standards and don’t allow myself to show any signs of weakness. The last few weeks of pregnancy should be a time to give myself some grace, but I did not.
If any of you are like me, we are our own worst critic. We do our best to not show any signs weakness, we do not slow down, don’t get sick and do our best to not make any mistakes. Personally, I believe this stems from being the oldest child, from disappointment that I perceived from others if I was less than perfect and competitive work environments. Mistakes and weakness are failures. Failures are weak links, not valuable team members and don’t get included in projects, decisions or lunch plans. FOMO (fear of missing out) at its finest.
In order to be true to fully human self, I have to take a deep breath and say “It’s ok if you’re not perfect.” No one expects that and if they do, then they’re not someone I should be allowing to influence my life, decisions or emotions. I have to release myself from my own unattainable standards and shift my perspective on what failure means. If we’re not failing, we’re not learning. Since life is nothing short of a constant lesson in being human, we should be failing on a regular basis and celebrating those failures. If we’re not failing, we’re not truly living as humans. Giving ourselves permission to fail is the best gift we can give ourselves.
Jess Ness is a corporate lady boss, MBA graduate, blogger, Nashville native, new mom and wife who is currently discovering what it truly means to live wholeheartedly. You can read more of her work at http://jessness.com/ or follow her on IG: @jessicaness.