Stop work-shaming me!

First published at Huffington Post on February 12, 2014.

“What do you do for you?” is a question I’ve heard umpteen times in various forms over recent years. When I first started being posed this question, I’d embarrassedly wrack my brain in a futile attempt to determine my last socially acceptable recreational activity.

“Um, I saw a movie last month.”

Now, as my own self-awareness has evolved, so has my answer to that questions.

“I work.”

Cue a confused look from the asker.

It seems like a depressing — or, at least, hopelessly misguided — concept to many, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I enjoy work. I derive pleasure from working. And yes, I’m proud of it. Why shouldn’t I be?

My many hats — radio broadcaster, writer, public speaker, reality television contestant — fill my morning, afternoons and evenings logistically and mentally. Even when not working, I’m thinking about what I will do when I get to work again.

You read that correctly. Get to work.

In recent years, the media has branded numerous phenomena suffixed by “-shaming,” much like “-gate” has been affixed to every genuine and faux political scandal.

Criticizing a female for dressing provocatively? Slut-shaming.

Criticizing someone for being overweight? Fat-shaming.

Criticizing someone for criticizing someone for being overweight? Thin-shaming (See: Maria Kang.)

The remedy in all of the aforementioned shamepidemics is the same: be proud of who you are and screw all the haters.

Surprisingly absent from shame-related discourse has been work-shaming: the frequent sententious condescension directed towards those who enjoy schedules filled with vocational commitments.

The only conclusion I can surmise is that, for many people, it is an unconscionable notion that anyone could enjoy work.

If you don’t, I feel bad for you. But don’t take your occupational self-loathing out on me because I enjoy what I do.

That doesn’t mean I don’t get stressed out. Nor, for that matter, does it mean that I function without frustration.

At the same time, I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how productivity has become a quality to be looked down upon rather than one to revere. Perhaps the work-shaming naysayers do so out of an inability to balance work and family in their own lives.

When people talk about the need for a “work-life balance,” I’m always perplexed at why ‘work’ and ‘life’ present as mutually exclusive concepts. To me, work is a part of life, just as faith, family and friends are. Yet there is little perceived nobility in taking “me” time away from those commitments as people seem to think there is with work.

Lest anyone accuse me of judging, I’m not. I don’t expect everyone to approach job or career with wide-eyed enthusiasm, but don’t work-shame me for doing so.