I like most people in their mid to late twenties am currently working a painstakingly stressful and time-consuming 9-5. Probably one that you hate or even one that you could love but you just aren’t in the position you desire as of yet. But either way, you are way past tired.
If you agree with the paragraph just above then you might once again just like I, look forward to 2 integral times of the day. Of course the long-awaited home time and ever the important midpoint of the day, your lunch break.
My lunch break is extremely sacred to me, I use those very brief 30 minutes to stuff my face, unwind, make social calls, even just aimlessly scroll through Instagram. Basically, it is my personal time to do whatever it is I want to do and to escape the weight of concrete jungle. When building a career us twenty-somethings are given the impression that in order to succeed we must mercilessly grind, give up whatever we deem precious in order to climb the ladder and fight for our dreams. So working lunches are often posed to us as a great idea to kill two birds with one stone, to the detriment of having a little pocket of time to regroup and resume the rest of your day with your sanity intact.
When I started my first real job I was that ever keen nodding employee that wouldn’t flinch at the sound of a 12pm-1pm meeting. I wanted to appear flexible, hardworking (well I put it on my CV so I had to prove it). But I was determined to show all the big wigs that I was the employee to remember. 5 years in the game and a couple of positions later, that was probably the biggest of all the mistakes I have made. Okay I am a drama queen but that is my free time and I realised that it started to become expected of me to surrender it whenever unforeseen affairs would arise. I don’t know about anyone else but I for sure did not sign up to work for Oxfam so charity work was definitely not in my contract, or in my sights. But aside from that if you give up your spare time, when do you get a chance to recharge?
I now vehemently refuse to be a martyr and renounce my only time of solace to give the impression that I am a worthy employee. Most of the time this self-less act is overlooked by managers and later on can be assumed as routine breaking down all of your personal boundaries and taking along with it the last portion you have left of your mental health. If a survey was done in any working environment the number one preceding factor would likely be that workers feel stressed and overworked, some of it is due to our environment but I believe that the majority of it is due to the unwritten rules to succeed.
Work can be a very exasperating environment. You can be stuck indoors for hours on end only leaving your desk to use the toilet, be inundated with emails overloaded with tasks that seem never-ending, or forced to laugh at humdrum jokes told by that co-worker you have always disliked but must keep up appearances. So forfeiting your lunch break when constantly having to fight those battles should be illegal, there is no contract written for any organisation that deems it crucial for any employee to utilise their unpaid lunchtime to continue working. There is no trophy awarded for the worker who sacrifices the most amount of hours of their personal time and dedicates it to their company. And there are definitely various different ways to demonstrate your commitment to a role, such as completing your duties, showing the array of skills and attributes you have and not to forget your professionalism.
Bottom line is don’t feel the need to give away what you need to sort a temporary issue, tomorrow take a walk or actually sit in the staff room to eat your lunch for once instead of using your desk. Just have some YOU time I am pretty sure if you’re reading this and wildly nodding at the points made in this post you deserve it.