Privilege Blog

Wouldn’t You Rather Be A Big Baby Sometimes?

My employer has currently, as I have said, misplaced my job. This may change. Still, as of now, I am not working.

This is unusual. I have worked at a paying job most of my post-undergraduate life. After college until business school in various entry level jobs, after business school for a Fortune 250 chemical company until my first pregnancy, 15 months after my second pregnancy on and off in various marketing and strategy consulting projects, and from the time the child the second pregnancy turned into was 7 – full-time in computer hardware and software. Until now.

Being released, however briefly, from corporate life is very interesting. For the last 6 or 7 years I have been a vice president of something or other. Granted, a promoted-very quickly-not-having-enough-experience-for-the-job kind of VP, and an only-had-a-group-working for me for part of that time VP, but still, a VP.

The part of not working that warms my heart is that if I want to be a big baby at any moment – I can. The part of working that I was never really good enough at was this. Executive stature. Imagine your boss, at that time the COO of a well-funded startup, says to you, “High WASP, what you need to work on is your executive stature.” Eeek. When you are the kind of person who nursed her children past the cultural norm, whose father and mother have never voted Republican, whose high school prom featured Jimi Hendrix music, the concept of executive stature is pretty alien.

I didn’t at first understand what he was saying. What the hell is executive stature? I’m not a tall man with a square jaw? But when he told me what I had been doing that degraded my executive stature, I got it. What had I done? I talked too much. I revealed how I felt about things. I showed my love for people and life outside of work.

Executive stature. The High WASP in me translated. Aha. You mean stiff upper lip. Stiff upper lip crossed with square jawed testosterone production.

Which thankfully is not required for sofa-sitting, taking my recyclables out on Tuesday morning, weeding my front yard, or buying whole grain bread at Whole Foods. Unemployment in other words.

The main problem is that in order to have enough money to stay alive, not to die under a freeway somewhere clutching my bottle of generic alcohol, I need to work. Which in my case, means I have to muster up some executive stature. Deep sigh.