When it comes to your job, there’s one thing we can agree on: it isn’t romantic.
Let’s think in terms of movies. Your job is often a horror film, don’t you agree? And, at times, it’s science fiction. But is your job a romance or even a rom-com? I think not. There’s way more com than rom.
And whose fault is it that your job lacks romance?
It’s yours, of course.
Or so I learned in “Romanticizing Your Life,” a recent article by Christina Caron in the unfailingly romantic New York Times.
According to Caron, you can transform the most mundane aspects of your workday into heart-throbbing moments of romantic splendor.
And let’s be honest: When it comes to mundane, you’ve got plenty to spare.
It was the pandemic that encouraged people “to appreciate life’s simple pleasures.” It was also the pandemic that gave people the time to record every single instance of appreciation on TikTok, Reddit and Instagram.
Like 21-year-old Rachel, who “uses a rolling pin to press eucalyptus leaves before hanging them in her shower.” Sound silly? Ask the people responsible for the more than 6.8 million views on TikTok. (Thank them, as well, for the dramatic runup in your shares of United Rolling Pin, Inc.)
While hanging eucalyptus leaves over the doorway of your cubicle may not be appreciated in your workplace — poison ivy leaves would be more appropriate — even the humblest of office tasks can be romanticized. Like the Reddit commenter who found joy while washing coffeepots at work. “After putting a little soap in the pot, I gently squeeze the bottle to blow bubbles out,” the user wrote in a thread about romanticizing. “I love bubbles.”
If the coffee at your office is tasting a little better these days, you’ve found the reason. You just can’t beat the flavor of Maxwell House and Dawn.
As you are, no doubt, beginning to understand, the key to romanticizing your life or your job is “to look for moments of beauty and embrace minimalism.” I’m not sure what is beautiful in your workplace, but I certainly know where you can find minimalism: your paycheck.
Beyond adding excitement and ardor to your otherwise dreary life, the romanticizing trend “is a new way of exploring mindfulness — the practice of paying attention to the present moment and becoming aware of your physical sensations, thoughts and emotions in a nonjudgmental way.”
While mindfulness is purported to decrease stress and symptoms of depression, I’m not sure it will have a positive effect at work. What you need there is not mindfulness but mindlessness — the practice of ignoring your physical sensations, thoughts and emotions so that you can get through the week and get your paycheck, minimal as it may be.
One example of mindlessness in meetings is to choose a spot and stare at it intently. It could be a smudge on the wall, or a mole on a co-worker’s forehead, or your manager’s left ear, which you have always maintained is larger than his right ear. While you stare, think about something romantic, like Jake Cohen’s 2020 avocado toast TikTok video, which was viewed almost 400,000 times.
When you begin to realize that your manager’s left ear looks like an avocado and would probably be quite tasty mashed up with some salsa and served with chips, stop staring and immediately leave the meeting. Don’t be surprised if it ended an hour earlier. That’s the magic of mindlessness.
Another aspect of this whole “romanticizing your life” thing is the idea of being a “main character” in your workplace romance and thus “let(ting) your actions drive the narrative, much like a film’s protagonist would.”
Frankly, I see you more as the main character’s loyal bestie — the kooky sidekick who provides comic relief as the main character pursues their romantic dream — or dreamboat — depending on what movie you are living.
You’re Goose to Maverick in “Top Gun.” You’re Chewbacca to Han Solo in “Star Wars.” Gabby Hayes to Gene Autry. Trigger to Roy Rogers. You may never have a happy ending, but your wacky antics and unwavering support brighten the lives of the other stock characters in your workplace romance, like the swashbuckling HR person or the hot mess from IT. They need you to play their parts. Even your boss — and every romance does need a villain — sees the value of your presence.
So, go ahead! Smile for the camera. You might even win an Academy Award!
In the meantime, pass the popcorn.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.