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Life at Work

I was pretty stoked for today's column til today turned out to be one of those days that just hammers away at you from the minute you walk in the door til the minute your boss says "Sayonara" and there's only an hour left in the day, and your "IN" box is still piled high.

All the same, I think today's topic is a pretty important one that impacts most of us in the working world, so I'm going to take a few minutes to address it.

Work has turned us all into schizophrenics. No, I'm not talking about clinically diagnosable mentally ill people, and I don't want to use the term lightly, but working in an office, unless it brings more meaning to your life than it does to most people's, forces you to split and splinter your personality until you don't really know who you are or who you're supposed to be.

And it's not something that's a new phenomenon. It's why great heroes in all the old stories start out as ordinary guys. Why princes come from frogs. Why regular girls get to be princesses just by being able to sleep on a mattress with a pea under it. Why boring, nerdy old Clark Kent gets to be Superman.

You may recall that Bird here ranted about appropriate office attire in yesterday's column. And I don't take it back - I think people should dress appropriately for the office. But being a downtown drone in a black suit is, most decidedly, not who I am. I am decidedly unconventional. I've been known to see the sun come up after an all-nighter at one of Chicago's old "cop bars" (remember Mike's on Webster?). I'll happily frequent a decent tattoo parlor (I recommend Deluxe Tattoo, and Josh in particular). When I'm on the train on my way home, or walking down the street in my work clothes and I run into a pack of people who look like they might be fun to get to know, I feel self-conscious, and like the epitome of everything I never intended to stand for. I feel an intense need to rush home and immerse myself in my beloved comic collection and, well, just be myself, whatever that means at a given moment.

I have friends who have succeeded in not giving in to the drive to become a part of the workforce, but here I am, straddling two worlds and not quite fitting in to either one. I know from talking to other people around the office and around downtown that this is a common phenomenon, and it never seems to get easier. How do you compartmentalize your life? Can you ever find balance? Can you be yourself while effectively fulfilling your duties as a Suit?

If there is a way, I haven't found it. This Bird is one strange puzzle of fierce individual and worker bee.


J. Bird is the Beachwood's psuedononymous workplace affairs correspondent. See more Life at Work here.


Posted on September 7, 2006

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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