Happy Halloween! While I have pumpkins in my entry way and will take the child out for treat-or-treating, I can’t say I’m a person who’s really into Halloween. There are some who goes “all out” for this holiday. However, coming up on Halloween made me think about masks and the ones we wear daily – and we all wear them. I don’t mean to imply that we are not always attempting to be our authentic selves, but there are definitely times when I feel like I’m wearing a mask – especially at work.
I don’t think that in wearing a mask, you’re completely inauthentic or fake. However, I do feel that when you don’t work for yourself and are representing someone else’s brand/image/product, you are wearing a mask of sorts. Also, let’s face it, these masks are often required if we want to sustain our livelihood. For many people, donning this mask is why they often branch out on their own and do things such as consult, open their own business or switch professions altogether.
Wearing a mask at work may simply involve selling a product that you don’t believe in, or the more extreme, not being able to be who you truly are. Some people are closeted at work or, some individuals feel that they cannot celebrate their cultural heritage and identity at work. These are more extreme cases of mask wearing, but you would be surprised how many people are wearing such a disguise.
In honor of Halloween (or maybe reverse Halloween ☺), I’d like to recommend that we take the masks off! Can you imagine how awesome our work environment would be if instead of wearing the masks we think are required, we were our true selves? What a culture of diversity and truthfulness it could bring?!
Are you wearing a mask? What mask are you putting on each day? What’s your scariest professional story? Feel free to share in the comment below!
As Halloween approaches, I’d like to make a public service announcement. Don’t do it!
Does your company allow costumes to be worn to celebrate this fun, candy-filled holiday? As an HR practitioner, this makes me cringe. I hate to be a party pooper, and I do enjoy Halloween (see, I can get in on the action). What concerns me is the possibility of the inappropriate costumes that are sure to flood the workplace. I think most of us know not to wear racially insensitive costumes or ripped-from-the-headlines-inappropriate outfits, for example, a sexy Ebola nurse (yes, it’s real) costume. If not, check out some of the repercussions of doing such a thing in this article from SHRM. However, I’m most concerned with the other costume choices some people may make. I get it. If you’re in a professional work environment you often feel trapped by having to wear your business professional attire, it often feels like summer vacation when you can sport your best dressed down outfit. At last, you have an opportunity to let out that bit of your personality that you’ve been dying to release at work. Unfortunately, Halloween may not be the time to do this.
Once you wear something like this to work you cannot take it back. You may show up on Monday ready to get back-to-business, unfortunately, your co-workers will still have visions of you in the costume that showed way too much leg/cleavage/butt. Or, the decision you made to show up without a shirt because you thought it would be fun to come as a caveman to the office Halloween party, may continue to haunt you all year. I know a lot of people feel like it’s no big deal. We’re all adults and people understand that Halloween is for fun, and the best part of it is that you get to dress like you normally would not. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, and you’re always under the microscope at work – no matter what someone else says. I’m not saying that your boss and peers are unable to separate the professional you and the Halloween you or that one costume will throw away years of hard work. But consider the last time you saw a CEO in thigh-high boots or with a necktie around his head. You don’t want this one outfit to call into question your judgment or limit your career growth because a co-worker posted a picture of you on their Instagram page.
I recommend playing it safe for the office Halloween costume. You can throw on those Mickey/Minnie Mouse ears or Superman shirt (minus the tights) and call it a day. If your inner-self feels compelled to go as a “sexy” anything – tell him/her no, and save that for the Halloween pub-crawl this weekend.