What ‘professionalism’ means

What ‘professionalism’ means

Kovid finally came like a thief in the night. When I was writing my column last Thursday morning, I was already walking in the haze of it. I spent the night in a state of restlessness. I was sure I was coming up with something, but I was sure it was probably seasonal. Our child had fever that lasted for a day and a half, recovering so quickly, gaining strength and mood so easily, we couldn’t understand that he had actually fought COVID. I couldn’t blink an eye the night before. I had a headache, a backache, a sore throat – every part of my body felt surrounded by something or the other. It was a tormenting night and I could barely make it through. The painkillers felt pointless and by noon I was not surprised when I tested positive. My first thought was that the timing couldn’t have been better. Of course, there is no such thing as a good moment to be sick. But we were defending ourselves from the virus so strongly from the beginning, ramping up our postpartum efforts during and immediately after pregnancy. Now, amid the crop of Granny Smiths and Pink Lady, we could afford to be disabled.

As I wrestled with every symptom associated with COVID (my sense of taste was more or less intact), I continued to work, as I had some immovable deadlines. It was an intellectual task, not easy to do when someone is coughing. To stretch my body, to persuade him to be able to think through illness, forced a reflection on the notion of professionalism. This is a subject I have a lot to say about as I have been a ‘self-employed professional’ since 2010. As a feminist, I have often thought about how patriarchy has framed it. We are expected to follow unspoken rules, and we usually do so without questioning their parameters.

The more you think about what we allow and don’t allow in the professional field, the more clear it becomes that this is still a ‘man’s world’. I always felt incredibly drawn to the scene from an episode of Sex in the City, when Samantha, who usually does her PR consultant job perfectly, shrugs off casual sexism at the workplace. You see how she is struggling to contain herself. But she finds him to wait until the elevator comes up and allows herself to break before the doors close. Emotions should be left at the door, when it comes to the workplace, we are often told. We should maintain an atmosphere of calm gathering.

When I was starting out, I was skeptical about full-time jobs. From the very beginning I had the concept of a door buzzing, not as a way to gain entry, but as a way to log your entry and exit so that your employer can track how many hours you spend in the office in a day Were. , It struck me completely strange, that I had to account for my salary through body movements and not through the quality of one’s work. Working from home was a way for me to counter all this. I could do my meetings in my pajamas, if I wanted to, and stream an episode of some ludicrous comedy while having my freshly cooked lunch. As a freelancer, however, I encountered other confusions surrounding the notion of professionalism. For example, take the deadline. As a writer, you are expected to deliver your works by a certain time. It is a symbol of how seriously you take your work. The interesting thing is that there is almost no organization which is so careful or cautious about making payments on time. This meant that half of my energy went into signing the paperwork, couriering the relevant publications, waiting for my check to be mailed, and then going to the bank to deposit the check. Online payments made things easier, but it meant someone had to keep a roster of invoices issued, or else you’d be keeping tabs on ones you hadn’t yet followed up.

So, while I had the privilege of working from home wherever I wanted it to be, and defining what professionalism was like for me, unlike my salaried friends who worked full-time with organizations, I often was broken. It’s taken me twenty years and I’m too broke to finally move to a European country. But the real change happened when I began to find the courage in myself to say no to any work that was not worth my time or that did not remunerate me enough, and to streamline my commitments, to people and institutions. He used to limit his engagements. who really respect me. Increasingly I find myself working with people who are mothers or fathers, who therefore fully understand the intricacies of child care. It helps significantly when I have to have our baby in the background of a Zoom call, or when I have to breastfeed in the middle of scholastic conversations on television, or when I have to take my baby to university. I conduct my long call with, or a student, who asked me to be his thesis advisor while I’m on our evening walk.

Last week was the most demanding and challenging of my life. Getting sick while continuing to care and isolate myself, while strictly enforcing self-care as a discipline in order to get better soon… was exhausting. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I’m patting myself on the back—another professional thing I practice. I continue to think about what it might mean to truly feminize work environments to make them more inclusive to bodies that aren’t traditionally competent, or who have always been excluded from professional spaces. has gone.

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Roslyn D’Mello is a distinguished art critic and author of A Handbook for My Lover. she tweets @RosaParx
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The views expressed in this column are those of the individual and do not represent the views of the paper.



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