As singles we often face comments from others that are assumptions about our lives. Recently a friend of mine was the unwilling recipient of some advice related to her own body, based solely upon her age and single status. In the workplace this is frequently a happenstance for us as singles.
It’s understandable for a single person to take on more work or stay late. We have nothing else going on, no one waiting at home on us, no kids to pick up. Or that is too often the expectation of single employees or coworkers. We are the go-tos in many situations at work, which says something for our work.
Buzzfeed shared a list of things single people don’t ever want to hear again, and I think the same holds true at work. There is a growing list of assumptions flowing through many offices and cubicles. It is assumed we have nothing after work. It is assumed we like staying later to finish a project for someone else. It is assumed we will be there early, perfectly put together and pleasant. It is assumed we do not have our own battles going on personally.
We often become the reliable source for work, while allowing our energy and passion to quickly become depleted. We feel guilty if we get frustrated at a coworker who has a family and leaves at five o’clock because we are tying up loose ends they may have left for us to knot.
We cannot magically wave a wand and cure the larger issue, as many will still be single and there will still be families that need to be tended to in any job. An honest and sincere appraisal of the assumptions we allow others to make about our lives within the workplace is a good place to start, though.
We can step back and see what we have perpetuated in the expectation and assumption tug of war. We can begin to address those assumptions and expectations as they arise.
When comments like “It must be nice to go home to an empty house,” are made, we have the ability to be vulnerable and honest with the one who made it. They were not being intentionally hurtful, they were simply recalling a time when they went home and did not have to wrangle children or deal with a dinner date with the spouse’s boss.
While we long for those moments to happen in singleness, there are those who long for a night of going home to a house of one, reading and the option of having cereal for dinner, or watching what they want on television and eating ice cream—pick your routine.
For whatever the work situation or conversation, we have the ability to set the boundary for our lives and be honest about the comments. They may be intentional or unintentional in how they are phrased. Ultimately, though, we are responsible as singles to address the assumptions made about us and the expectations that are placed upon us—whether by others or by ourselves—in the workplace.
Let’s take time to be honest with our coworkers when the time is right, to encourage balance for ourselves as we do for others around us.
If you have had an instance of facing the single battle at work, what were you feeling and how have you reacted? Do you feel the responsibility of being the voice of the single gal or guy in your office? Do you feel it is equal for singles and marrieds (with or without children) in the workplace?