March 6, 2014

Personal vs. Professional: The Great Divide. ~ Celeste Shea


I’m an open book. What you see and hear is what you get. That said, I have a rule on Facebook: I don’t friend or accept friend requests from anyone in a company where I’m currently employed.*

The reason is that I’m so honest and open about my life, thoughts and feelings, I fear I’ll be judged and that this judgment will be used against me in corporate America. I put myself out there. My posts are tasteful, but I have no filter—nor do I want one.

Now, I’m not out committing illegal acts or anything of that nature, but there’s the occasional incriminating picture (maybe a glass of wine here or there…okay, so maybe many pictures of glasses of wine) or the post of a personal struggle or my strong feelings on some matter. Many of my Facebook friends have thanked me for my honesty and have told me I’m inspiring (blush). I would love to share the full Celeste with the world.

To tell you all about what I faced in childhood (it wasn’t pretty) and the many winding paths I’ve taken to become who I am now, but this fear that I’ll be fired or not hired holds me back. So I continue to be careful.

The truth is, the whole thing makes me angry. Why should people judge others based on limited information? (An age-old question, I know). Why do I have to put up a professional façade? Well, I guess I don’t have to, but the repercussions may not be worth it.

Why does corporate America have to be so stuffy? It just seems ridiculous to me, but it’s the discriminatory reality we live in.

I know there are exceptions and companies that wouldn’t care what I am or say, but they seem to be far and few between. Especially where I live, in the Northeast.

I know I could write under a pen name, but I don’t want to be divided: I only want to be one me.

So for now, since I have to pay the bills, I’ll keep up the wall between my personal and professional self. Grudgingly, mind you. I hope our corporate culture changes to be more accepting. More real. Maybe I’ll test the boundaries when I feel I’m in a position to do so, but that’s not right now.

I know not everyone is an open book, so many probably don’t struggle with the dichotomy of their personal and professional lives. If you are like me, and you’re in a senior, corporate role, I’d love to hear how you handle your online presence. What’s wise or not? Have you ever been burned by being yourself publicly online? Are my fears irrational?

*I broke this rule once, when I met a soul-sister friend. I’m glad that picture she took of me dancing on a chair in a VT ski lodge didn’t leak out!

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Editor: Renee Picard

Photo: Zader at Flickr

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Celeste Shea