In all my work and career, I have hear the word “professionalism” thrown around like a sand bag. No meaning, random, no definition, or value when said …just like a sand bag. I have had many critics expect me to fit into this sand bag thinking of being a so called “professional” — mind you I have no idea what their idea of this construct is. Does it mean wear a tie? Does it mean speak like you know the entire dictionary heart to heart word by word? What on earth is meant by this word?
Here is what I have come to figure the meaning of this words is in my experience:
1. Be professional..meaning don’t speak your mind.
2. Act professional..meaning don’t do anything that might be offensive to anyone at anytime as long as you live on this earth.
3. Look professional…meaning DO NOT have a social life or in anyway show that you dress in anything else but dress pants and a collared shirt.
In other words BE, ACT, LOOK professional: meaning is to fit into the box and hold on to the values of the mainstream culture. Don’t question it, don’t challenge it, just do it is basically the subliminal message.
When this word is thrown around it gets confusing, because of course context matters. For example, when a person is on social media and wants to showcase pictures of themselves in a photo shoot because they love modeling they have that right to do so, because the context in which they are displaying it is appropriate to them. They aren’t dressing up in a swimsuit and showing up to work for example, so that shouldn’t be anyone’s business what side projects that person is doing.
The point is, we need to understand that being “professional” is not a lifestyle but rather a behavior of conduct in a CERTAIN CONTEXT and shouldn’t be the way of living for a person just because they are worried people will stock their social media or life in general.
I say this especially because as a woman, I carry myself very professionally in my work context as I recommend everyone should. However, when I want to do advocacy work for my non-profit, work on my modeling, go exercising in short shorts or do anything else — that’s no one’s business. I can behave however I want outside of the context of my contracted work and jobs. It is unrealistic to keep boxing people up. Yes I wear bathing suits, I curse, I drink socially, and do other “human” activities. I am not going to constrain myself to only keeping a image that is JUST PROFESSIONAL (Sand Bag?)– isn’t that what LinkedIn is for? Other outlets of media are created for this very reason– to help humans connect outside of work and show interest in the arts of creativity.
Creativity is pretty much what I wanted to get at as my last point. We need to be open to people being creative with their lives and work. Or else we just have a bunch of robots running this world, and that my friends is literally a no-brainer world.