A Girl In The Corporate World

Don’t ‘Lean In’ too far…

Sayde Scarlett
3 min readApr 19, 2020


This is *not* what I look like at work. © elnariz /Adobe Stock

Sorry fellow colleagues, but I’m that girl. The girl who gets to work at 8:59am and leaves at 5:01pm. Yes, that girl. The girl who doesn’t start new work if it’s going to take her past the 5pm clock-off time. Yep! That’s me.

The truth is, and I’m embarrassed to admit it in this great age of ‘Lean In’, that I despise corporate life. There’s a lot to love about the jobs I’ve had but I’ve hated the parts of my jobs that were not directly my job. Like the time I spent a full two hours on the phone to IT one afternoon.

Where I have been a poor employee, I can assure you that I’ve had my share of dud bosses. Under a kind, considerate, inspirational boss I have been known to thrive. More often than not, however, I have been sat a desk out of the way and thrown folders full of work with no instructions.

The premise of Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ is that if you approach your career with the gusto of a seasoned mountaineer scaling Mt Everest, you’ll end up with a more satisfying job. I have taken this approach to heart in several workplaces but I have failed to experience any uptake in my career satisfaction at all.

Other than the welcome sensation of having money hit my bank account every month, I have gained very little as a human being or as an individual from my work. But why does this matter so much? When did being gainfully employed become less than enough?

There seems to be an overwhelming drive to daub every individual with a career label. My grandfather never really cared what job he did. As a working-class man, his status was tied to having a job and being the type of man who consistently held down a job and supported his family.

But now, unless your job has a certain degree of glamour or status attached to it other people regard you as a failure. Even creatives who linger in the shadows before they strike it lucky are regarded as underachievers — regardless of whether they’re happy or not.

This is why in my youth — like so many — I was set down a track that wasn’t really right for me. Pushed towards jobs that had status rather than jobs I actually liked. This has been a recipe for misery for me and I know so many who have similar stories.

I’m someone who gets an enormous amount of satisfaction from things I can’t make a living from. Gentle gardening, cooking and baking, painting and sketching, creative writing and spending time with my family. And if I don’t leave work as early as possible I have less time and energy for all those things.

So… don’t ‘Lean In’ too far. The purpose of a job is to give you a life outside of it. And that shouldn't feel like scraps of existence your boss allows you to have in your rationed free-time. Go for the life you want even if it means taking yourself out of the career arms race.

Thank you for reading — I hope you found my thoughts interesting. You can find links to my other work here: https://linktr.ee/sayde.scarlett



Sayde Scarlett

Author and poet by day; artist by night. Loves to tell stories and create art; loves to talk about stories and creating art.