10 Weird Things That Only Happen To People Who Work From Home
Working from home is, and has always been, my dream. (Yes, really.) When I was young, I once heard overheard an aunt's friend say that she had a friend who was a writer and editor at the New York Times, but she got to work from wherever she wanted—and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I didn't realize it would come true immediately out of college (and as a writer, no less!) but it's a privilege I do not take lightly. I get to wake up, have tea, make breakfast, run errands, and generally make my own work hours. I can sleep as I want, work quietly, travel as much as I'd like, and my work clothes are leggings and loose tank tops. There's nothing not to love about this life, and that is not at all lost on me.
However, you're only on a tuffet for so many hours of the day. Since most of us don't grow up anticipating that we'll be spending most of our workdays in our own apartments, we really don't prepare for exactly what that means. And, believe it or not, it means a lot more than just not having to put on pants (although, admittedly, that is definitely a perk). It may not seem like it, but it takes a whole hell of a lot of mental stamina and structure to get anything done, and remain a functioning, social human being.
People not really understanding what your life is about or how you...you know...make money is just one of the infinite number of things that make working from home such a uniquely weird situation. Here are 10 others:
Your friends have absolutely no concept of when you're working and when you're not, no matter how many times you tell them
When you work at home, your friends/spouse/kids will see you at home, on the couch, and think it's prime time to sit and chat. It really doesn't matter how many times you gently remind them that these are your working hours tonight. They will still inevitably associate the sight of your body on your couch with "time for wine and jokes," which, not completely false but ultimately wildly inconvenient especially when "self control" is an issue people who work at home have to begin with. (We'll get to that in a minute.) Basically, all of this to say, the "this is when I work and I need to be left alone during this time" is a conversation you have frequently.
You need insane amounts of self-control to get anything done at all
When there's no boss around to kick your ass into high gear, it's really, really easy to let hours pass without any form of productivity. It's awful, it's great, it's agony, it's ecstasy, welcome to the plight of the at-home-worker. Because yes, you can kick back and get an episode of Gilmore Girls in at 11AM on a Tuesday, while you mill your brain for more inspiration for your next project, but ultimately, when hours slip past you without realizing, you end up more panicked than relaxed.
The kitchen becomes your own private temptation-laden hell
Snacks. All the time. Nobody to judge you. Mindless eating while you scroll. Endless ability to quell your work stress with calories. The struggle is real. I need say no more.
You forget what it's like to actually look presentable
When was the last time you put on a real outfit? Shrug. Anybody's guess, really. And it absolutely perplexes you as to how people actually get up each day, put makeup on, wear actual, structured clothes, and sit in a florescent-lit box for the next 8 hours. (Who even has time?)
WiFi is your life force energy, and whenever there's a glitch or irregularity with it, you're sent on a mental-emotional-spiritual journey to find inner peace
Most people who experience slow or crashed internet are only mildly inconvenienced by it... but their email can wait; Netflix just takes another few seconds to load. You, however? You have to be in an online meeting in 10 minutes. The entirety of your workday (and presence in a digital office) depends on you being in that chatroom in exactly 10 minutes. Ultimately, nobody cares whether or not Comcast screwed you over again. They care whether or not your ass is in that meeting, ready to go.
Human contact becomes an illusive, treasure of an experience
You all but jump down your friends' and roommates' throats to tell them the million things that have been stirring in your head as soon as they walk through the door. "How was your day, good? Okay, great, now listen to the twelve hilarious jokes I came up with in the last hour and had nobody to bug with!" You almost start to develop this belief that human beings need to meet a procrastination quota and if they can't get it throughout the day, they'll just impose it upon whatever unsuspecting human life they come across later.
You gain a completely different concept of what a "successful day at work" is
For most people, it's just getting to 5PM without having a nervous breakdown. For you, a successful day is only measured by what you actually got done, and how well you did it. When your ultimate goal isn't just "to get through it because 40% of my job is just being here," you start getting really manic and particular about the quality of everything you do. You sit in your pajamas all day, you better have something good to show for it eventually.
You start treating a coffee shop like the office you must go to, and actually dress up for
When you're really desperate to just be in the presence of other living beings that aren't your roommate's dumb dog, you go crash in the back of a coffee shop for the next 7 hours, and if you do it regularly enough, you actually start getting dressed to go, as though it's your actual office now. (And you might even start referring to the other coffee shop laptop regulars as your "coworkers". It's weird. Don't look at me.)
"Going outside" becomes a thing you intentionally do with meaning
And you more or less have to stock up on reasons to actually leave your apartment. Gym? Gotta go every day now. Groceries? Need them all the time. Random window shopping and just sitting on the bench in a park simply to breathe actual air? A tenant of your sanity/health/livelihood.
You realize that you actually have to develop a life that's more than just work
Because if you didn't, you would wake, exist, eat, breathe, sleep in the same two rooms of an occasionally well-lit apartment and could ultimately cease to exist in the outside world unless some gem of a human comes by to force you to brunch once a week. (Consult your work-at-home friends if you think this is dramatized. They will confirm: This. Is. Real.)
Images: Erich Stüssi/Flickr; Giphy(10)