I am a power woman living the dream. I have a full-time career as a spokesperson for a nonprofit, and an office with floor-to-ceiling views of a busy neighborhood in Washington, D.C. I work with an assistant, and I have a boss that lets me take four-week vacations. Every day, I work with national reporters and producers to place major stories in high-profile news outlets. I travel each month for conferences and meetings in other U.S. cities, where I get to stay in quality hotels with spas, room service and heated swimming pools.
I go to meetings where I plan strategies with experienced leaders and high-paid political consultants. I go to power lunches and policy briefings with colleagues. I keep tabs on stakeholders for my job. I network at industry after-work parties. I check my email all day while I am in the office and before I go to bed at night. I have fancy business cards and a closet full of tailored suits. I have eight pairs of black pumps. My job has all of the glitz, prestige and power I prayed for when I was 13 years old in middle school.
And I hate everything about my career. I hate the phoniness of public relations, the monotony of office life and the endless stream of upcoming meetings and projects. I hate dealing with the soul-killing boredom when the workload slows down, and, when the reverse happens and work speeds up, the heart-attacking-inducing panic when I have to process one week’s worth of projects in a single afternoon. I hate navigating through workplace office politics and going to phony business lunches. My commutes in the mornings are long and tedious, and the truth is that I could do most of my work at home. I have thought about quitting for the past two years and have reached a point where coming into work every day is a struggle.
I should say that I while I do not like office life and public relations, I love the nonprofit organization I work for and I think they are helping to make the world a better place. I would just rather not work for them, or anyone else to be honest. I have recently come to the conclusion that I would rather work for myself―in an industry completely different than public relations (PR).
I never actually planned to work in PR. Like many in the industry, I started off as a freelance writer. When the economy got rocky in 2009, I grabbed on to the industry like it was a floating lifesaver so that I could finally earn a steady paycheck and have health insurance benefits. At first, I found the job to be surprisingly easy. All I have to do is be nice to reporters! But now, I am realizing that everything comes with a cost. Compared to other office jobs, such as finance, operations or network administration, communications careers are in fact much easier, but the big difference is that public relations staff members are held to much higher accountability standards. We are often the first to go during layoffs and and the last to receive funding support for our projects.
Even if you do not work in public relations, if you’re a woman reading this, you probably share my sentiments about work. One Pew study found that 53 percent of women say they do not have any interest in being the boss. According to another Pew study, 47 percent of mothers said that their ideal situation would be to work part-time. I personally have no interest in working full-time and being a mother.
A ForbesWoman study found that out of all working women surveyed, 84 percent of working women say that they aspire to have the financial luxury to stay home to raise children. One in three women resent their partners for not earning enough to make that dream a reality. Forget about Sheryl Sandberg’s advice about “leaning in,” most working women actually want to opt out.
So what is a girl to do? Right now I’m applying to schools so that I can go into a career that is more flexible and less time-consuming. I’m looking forward to going back to school and getting a break from the cushy (read: boring) office for the next few years. I’m also going to spend more time finding work-life balance role models to follow, such as Penelope Trunk and Megan Basham.
What are your thoughts on office life? How are you finding work-life balance?
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Author: Lilac Blue
Lilac Blue is writes about femininity, love and family in a world that has been drastically altered by industrialization, secularism, misandry and misogyny.