For some, it’s one of the most dreaded realizations to come to. That moment when you admit to yourself that after a year or so of kissing your boss’s ass that your balls (lady balls?) have been swiftly snipped by “the man.” Somewhere in between making copies and memorizing your head honcho’s coffee order by heart, they vanished from your body. Gone. Gone like your ability to bypass wicked hangovers and to borrow money from your parents totally guilt free. You have nothing left but a fleshy meadow of bare skin with just enough room to tattoo “this is where my dignity used to live” in Comic Sans. There’s something really National Geographic about it if you think about it. There’s this primal instinct to move up the professional food chain by working hard and using your earnings to survive. Any smart animal knows that in order to do so, you’ll not only need allies, but also the respect and trust from the leader of the pack. Unfortunately for some of us, that means bending over and surrendering to the beast that’s about to mount us. In this case, that beast is our career and its motive is to tame us into the ideal postgrad worker bee. How does that super creepy line from the movie “300” go? Something like, “This will not be over quickly.” The same can be said about the way the professional world whips us into shape. It’s a gradual process that takes time. And then, before you know it, you’ve been assimilated into true adult work life. You’ve willingly traded in your red Solo cup for a slightly stained coffee cup. The best of us realize what’s happening and hang on to our individuality for dear life. The others are either in denial or a state of complete unawareness. So for the latter group, here are some ways to know you’ve been tamed by your career.
Your Fashion Sense Has Matured
Business casual used to mean finding the nicest thing in your closet that wasn’t your go-to wedding or funeral outfit. You would try to get by with wearing an untucked button down and a printed T-shirt underneath that reads “Panama City Spring Break 2012” even though you could completely see it. Or for the ladies, an above the knee pencil skirt paired with the top you wore to the club the night before was no big deal. After a couple of “gentle” warnings and visits to the HR department, you decided that a more conservative dress was probably the way to go. Well, either that or being cool with going back to your college job at the mall, where they didn’t care what you wore as long as you didn’t smell like last night’s mistakes.
Your Sense Of Humor Changes
There was once a time when pulling “Workaholics”-type pranks was your office dream. The idea of successfully putting on one of the most epic Catalina Wine Mixer moments was more of a goal than earning that bonus at the end of the year. If there was anything that you were going to get out of a staff meeting, it would be a few laughs from some of your straight-faced coworkers. It isn’t until you get an intern fresh out of college who actually does some of the hilarious things you used to dream about that you realize you’ve changed. You don’t find the pranks as funny as you thought you would when you were that newbie, and it’s then that you realize you’ve moved on. Instead, you find humor in throwback Dilbert comic strips or when someone accidentally copies the entire department in a personal email.
You Come Into Work On Time…Everyday
No longer do you call into the office with some insane excuse for why you’ll be late that morning. There are no more sprained ankles from being chased by rabid dogs or natural disasters that only occurred in your neighborhood. Instead, you’re the person coming in early and bringing doughnuts with you to share with your coworkers. Even when you do have a valid excuse for a late arrival, there is a little voice in the back of your head making you feel guilty for not putting up with hell and high water to get to your esteemed place of employment right on the dot. Pre-tamed, you would have taken your sweet time and would have maybe even snuck in a Bloody Mary or two to get the creative juices flowing.
You Spend The Weekends Doing Work-Related Activities
Your weekends used to consist of partying with friends and waking up in strange places. A Pitbull music video mixed with a Dos Equis commercial was your ideal vision of a successful weekend. Now, you’re setting up shop at your favorite coffee joint to crunch numbers, review PowerPoint presentations, and prepare for Monday’s workload. While you’re putting in weekend overtime, your friends are out by the pool and hydrating for the beer fest they’re going to later that night. The worst part about it all is that even though you’re fully aware of all of the other things you could be doing, you’re completely content with putting in that extra time to focus on your career.
You’ve Turned Into A “Yes” Man
Before, when your boss would ask you to take on extra projects, you would honestly tell him or her that you already had a lot on your plate. You would possibly suggest that you could do so once you’d completed your current task. If you were really crafty, you would suggest that another coworker handle it because you know “how good he or she is” at that sort of project. You would do this mostly because you were just getting the hang of things and you didn’t want the pressure of potentially screwing up something that early in the game. But after that stage passed and you got everything down pat, it became tougher to turn down extra projects or favor requests. That instinct I spoke about earlier kicks in and you figure that the more times you say “yes,” the more likely you are to be promoted or to receive a good evaluation when that time rolls around. So when you notice that you are saying “yes” to your boss more times than a foreign exchange student who doesn’t know any other English words, it’s time to reevaluate your situation. Respecting your boss’s wishes is one thing, but being the office bitch is another.
If you can relate to any of the scenarios, I hate to break it to you, but you have been tamed. However, all is not lost. You always have retirement to look forward to, which I hear can get really wild.