For a long time I hid the real me from work. I don’t think I am the only one.
I had been writing articles about my passion for living and working abroad, but they never left the safe confines of my desktop folder.
Why? Because my current work had absolutely nothing to do with being abroad. It wasn’t even in the same ballpark – business, sector, or industry.
It scared me to publicize the articles because people from work would read them, and I would seem inconsistent to the business persona I had responsibly created.
That thought deeply worried me.
It can be uncomfortable to bring up about non-work related dreams and interests with our company. It’s even more challenging if those dreams don’t mesh perfectly with our current roles, if we have a boss that’s not interested in listening, or if we think it might penalize our career advancement.
Yet, I know from previous trial and error that not being honest with those we spend 40 (or many more) hours with each week is a huge mistake.
That doesn’t make telling the truth about our outside passions to our current employer any easier.
It takes courage and strength to articulate what you want and who you are. So much so that today many people opt to leave and find a new company instead of having a frank conversation with the boss.
I recognize this pattern because I myself have quit in this very scenario. And I see many friends do the same. These exits are usually confusing and unpleasant.
With this lesson top of mind, I figure that talking with my work about my growing interesting for writing about and living abroad is the best way forward.
It is up to me to find out if the hard-working and diligent start-up HR director I am, can live alongside the expat author and abroad enthusiast I want to explore.
Here are the steps I am taking to pave the way for a productive conversation:
1. DROP HINTS
I started to drop hints about my new found passion by posting LinkedIn articles and sharing Facebook stories – a strategic tactic when working for a social social media focused company.
Additionally, I am placing a few sticky notes alongside my computer with words like existential migrant and xenophile. Silly? Yes. Effective? Absolutely! This triggers a lot of questions from colleagues that allow my to explain my new side exploration.
2. TELL THE TRUTH
So obvious, yet tricky. Telling the truth at work can feel like you’re showing your cards or compromising your position.
A while back over a nerve wracking coffee meeting with my boss, I spilled the beans about my passion to explore my abroad interests (which included starting this website.)
Feeling nervous about divulging this information to my employer may seem silly to some. But each of our work situations are unique!
My job isn’t a 9-5, but a startup position that requires a lot of energy, dedication, and commitment. If not handled correctly, my new found interest could be viewed as a deviation away from the career plans I have made with my boss.
And for that reason, I feel that the company that keeps my lights on deserves a conversation.
3. PRACTICE TRANSPARENCY
Integrity works both ways. If I expect my company to be honest and respectful with me, then I have to do the same with them.
There is a good chance I would be in a very dark place right now if I had not openly shared my new found interests with my full time employer.
Being transparent allows us to have ingenuity and creativity in how my passions work together. It also forces frank conversations that, while difficult, has made me clarify what I really want.
In the end, talking openly about my non-work related passions with my employer, even though sometimes I feel vulnerable, is a life and career altering decision.
For the first time ever, I am revealing my whole self.