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Not So Much A Knight, in The Not So Shining Armor

Not So Much A Knight, in The Not So Shining Armor

How a REAL man treats a woman:
He never tries to change her, he loves her for who she is
He doesn’t need words to understand her
He never gets threatened by her success, he encourages her dreams
He protects her emotionally and physically
He never disrespects her
And a REAL woman never ‘settles’ for less

Sounds like you have read this before, right? Well, it is an excerpt from the multitude of posts around how a man treats his partner. As women finally get to celebrate their individuality and progress, the role of the men in their lives is evolving. He is no longer a stereotypical bread winner, he is a true partner who embraces her complexities, who stands by her dreams, who loves her enough to both give her space and protect her.

As a young woman, I completely subscribe to above and I’m glad that gender roles are changing (finally!). But just as we get bombarded with such content I cannot help but wonder, are we creating just another version of the age old  ‘knight in shining armor’, shoes too big for a mere mortal to fill?

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The “Real Man”: Big Expectation, Bigger Heartbreak

As young girls we have grown up dreaming about a partner who is romantic like Brad Pitt and protective like our fathers. As grown women we dream about a partner who has all the 10 qualities that the post on the ‘real man’ has listed, and then some. Even before we enter into a relationship we have an image of the man we want. Imagine the rude shock when he doesn’t understand why she is angry even after three days of silent treatment (he is supposed to ‘get’ her if he really loves her).

Imagine the pain when he only gives an exasperated sigh when she cries instead of swooping her into his arms and apologizing profusely (he is supposed to never hurt her if he really loves her). The sheer horror when he seems threatened when she starts earning more than him, what happened to celebrating her dreams and standing by her? The let downs seem to be endless – he screams at her, he is not always dependable and sometimes he doesn’t seem to care about anything – are our men just not good enough?

I would like to offer an alternate (and probably controversial) explanation.

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The Truth About The REAL ‘Real Man’

He is Human. He is sloppy sometimes, jealous sometimes, angry sometimes, callous sometimes, and confused about what the hell you want most of the time. The ‘real man’ is not a dreamy cross between the heart stopping Brad Pitt and the dependable dad, it is this guy who is blankly staring at you without any comprehension despite three days of silent treatment. So should we do him a favor? Should we just tell him what’s up and move on (of course after sufficiently fighting it out!)

The fact that a man is not able to understand his partner sometimes  may not mean he doesn’t love her, it probably just means that he is neither a mind reader nor her identical twin. The fact that he is initially threatened when she earns more doesn’t necessarily make him a swine worth dumping. Maybe, just maybe, he is struggling to get past his own early conditioning of traditional gender roles, of course, stereotypes are nonsense, but maybe he is in the process of evolving, just as she is.

Let’s Stop Kidding Ourselves, This is The Real Deal

So the guy WILL scream at you, as much as you scream at him (or a little less if you are lucky or a little more if you are not so lucky), he will not always be able to protect you (especially when the beers have been one too many, in fact, you may find yourself struggling to drag the big fellow and drive him home!). He will be disrespectful and unsupportive on multiple occasions, just as you are. This is not because he is an anti woman chauvinist, it’s because, well, that’s how most people are irrespective of their genders.

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They have their highs and lows, virtues and vices. There is no clear good or bad, black or white, and your guy is just another piece of (hopefully) lovable grey. To be honest, thank God for that, had he been sheer perfection romancing you like Brad Pitt, you would eventually get quite fed up and yearn for…well..something more real!

So this is my humble submission – there is no knight in shining armor, and if you are honest with yourself, you don’t want one either (because you sure as hell are no damsel in distress!). We are surrounded by real men who are inconsistent just as humans are, and they are surrounded by us women, who are also inconsistent just as humans are.

So next time he turns away when you are sobbing, go right ahead, and have a fight, but pray don’t dwell on the ‘real man’ article you read last week, because that ladies is as imaginary as it gets!

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Featured photo credit: De Telegraaf via telegraaf.nl

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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