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Our coworkers think we are dating

In my not-so-distant youth, I wasted an inordinate amount of time worrying about meeting other people’s expectations.

I felt legitimately compelled to accomplish certain things, behave a certain way, and adhere to certain life goals.

And so, I worked to climb the ladder in my career–never mind that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing–I went to grad school so that I’d have an advanced degree–never mind that it was a boring slog for me–I dressed, acted, and looked a certain way.

I projected an image of a polished, professional person.

Rounding the corner of 30 last year was essentially my watershed moment.For your amusement, I’m including photos of myself on a few recent birthdays.You’ll note that I’m wearing what appears to be the same outfit in a few photos–that’s because it is the same outfit and I do wear it a lot, apparently, on my birthday.It murmurs just below the audible level and permeates your subconscious.The covert, and not-so-covert, messages that advertisers and the media fling at us have a way of imbedding themselves in our psyches and making us feel inadequate (or at least they did in mine).It was shortly after cresting my third decade that Mr. FW and I realize our early retirement goal is a counter-culture, non-traditional move and it’s not something I would’ve been comfortable with if I still cared what people think.Frugalwoods and I launched our plan to retire early to a homestead in the woods. Letting go of caring enabled me to figure out what I really want out of life–not what society wants out of my life.No one else will ever have quite as much of a vested interest in whether or not you were happy, or a good person, or fulfilled, or doing beneficial work that brought you purpose and meaning.Your partner, family, and friends hopefully want what’s best for you, but you only have yourself and God to answer to at the end of the day.The old me would’ve been too concerned with what other people Yeah, yeah, yeah that’s all true to some extent (especially the one about greyhounds… And, as it turns out, society doesn’t care what I do with my life.In the end, the only person who truly cares how you lived your life is you.


  1. Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by iStock. Mallory Ortberg Sam Breach Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An.

  2. You may also like can we tell dating employees that one of them has to leave the organization? our boss will fire us if we don’t sign up to be a liver.

  3. Also, I’ve received email threads forwarded to me in which my coworkers refer to me as “the intern” to outside clients, and I usually reply-all to.

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