Confession: I’m a reformed girl boss.
Ever since high school, I’ve made it a solemn mission to hone my craft. From being a restless campus journalist to seeing deadlines as a death threat, doing my best has been seared in my brain for years, and there has been no better compliment than "productive."
Don't get me wrong, being an output-oriented person definitely has its moments, and there are no words to describe what it feels like to pursue your dream.
But, eventually, like many fellow Gen Z workers and other employees working tirelessly during the pandemic, how "good" I was became the basis of how I operated and treated myself.
Enter "quiet quitting"—the new internet buzzword that’s been making the rounds online to empower employees. It essentially means doing what is expected of you based on your job description, and nothing more. Some call it doing the bare minimum, while some have called it "laziness." But one thing rings true for me: It shouldn't be considered "quitting" at all.
Acting your wage, clocking in and out at the right time, maintaining strong boundaries, and having a solid work-life balance by no means equates to something as negatively phrased as quitting, when it's actually all about starting a phase of life beyond work.
With the early days of the pandemic rendering us all feeling hopeless and helpless at home, it was easy to dive into work and get lost in the endless tasks, Zoom calls, and going overtime just because you can.
We can still be productive and output-oriented persons in the ways that privately matter to us.
In an early 2020 local study by British recruitment company Robert Walters Group, it's been found that 8 out of 9 professionals in the Philippines preferred working from home, with a rise in "productivity" being one of the main reasons and variables.
I know the data rings true for me and many other employees, while the world (seemed to) burns, your productivity is one of the most obvious crutches you can control.
a city where all you do is hobbies pic.twitter.com/P7LiS7HUQ6— justin (@iamjustintran) August 29, 2022
Before quiet quitting, the internet was also abuzz with "The Great Resignation," where masses of dissatisfied employees turned in their resignation notice to fight back against oppressive companies.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege to quit due to rising inflation, cost of living, and downright fear of the unknown. Thus, the perks of quiet quitting.
An example of peak quiet quitting in fiction is The Office character Jim Halpert, portrayed by John Krasinski. Known as the cynical salesman of the fictional under Mifflin paper company, Jim was initially viewed as the millennial that slacked off, yet never actually found the urge to quit his job.
Through the series, viewers would then witness him find purpose outside of work—through his hobbies, sense of humor, camaraderie with co-workers, eventual marriage with Pam Beesly, and soon, his children.
It’s not to say he actively detested his job (although he did have some “are we serious?” moments here and there), but he discovered his character outside of the four corners of his company.
Soon enough, he eventually went up the ranks not because he was completely devoted to his job, but because he was reliable, smart, and didn't burn himself out in the process.
Isn't that the dream for all of us—bosses and workers, alike? To be able to earn the right wages while having the opportunity to become the person we're meant to be outside of work?
Acting your wage isn't a takedown of labor, but the uplifting of purpose.
I do believe there is nobility in doing your best with the work given to you, but there is no good to be had when you equate your worth to your output. When other people's praise and criticisms are fuel, it becomes a slippery slope into how you see yourself and your work as a product to be presented, rather than something created with effort and intention.
As a reformed girl boss, I know that growth isn't something you can measure with tasks and numbers, but in how much space I can hold for warmth, how much time I can share with my loved ones, and how much I can be better in my craft, not necessarily because of the job or title.
It sounds incredibly corny, but it’s the truth. We can still be productive and output-oriented persons in the ways that privately matter to us.
My 5 year plan is to hang out with my friends and tell them i love them— Liv :P (@liv_username) August 27, 2022
Author Eula Biss puts it best in her essay collection, Having and Being Had: "We're in service to the art, bent to it. There's a pleasure in this posture, in being bettered by the work. It isn't the pleasure of mastery, but the pleasure of being mastered."
True enough, we choose our own masters at the end of the day, and quiet quitting is by no means a way to escape but to thrive. Acting your wage isn't a takedown of labor, but an uplifting of purpose.
It has to be a conscientious decision on our part to not simply "quietly quit" on work but to start an outlook on life beyond it.