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Five Things Business Women Over 50 Shouldn’t Do

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This article isn’t for my over 50 sisters with corner office and a company car. I am sure this advice could help them as well, but as I am currently a cubicle dweller who has never had a corner office or a company car, I am not familiar with their lives. This article is for my over 50 sisters who are fellow cubicle dwellers.

There is nothing wrong with being content in a cubicle. There is something to be said for being comfortable in our jobs. Someone has to take care of the day-to-day work.

Finding job fulfillment isn’t dependent on a title.

Finding fulfillment outside of work is also a perfectly acceptable approach to life. Sure, it’s good to not hate what you do for a living, but it’s also not horrible if your job supports outside interests that satisfies your creativity.

Even though we might not be interested in the cut throat world of middle management, doesn’t mean we don’t have an impact.

Regardless of our roles, we matter.

Our presence means something and we all have the power to make positive change in the world. If we want to grow and be a part of positive change, then there are some things we shouldn’t do:

Don’t participate in office gossip

We’ve been around awhile, and by the time we’ve reached midlife, we should have a good understanding of how toxic, small-minded and ugly gossip is. Once we’ve passed the half century mark, we know things about gossip. Gossip hurts people, distracts people and offers nothing good to the universe.

Be a role model for our younger sisters. Don’t gossip. Don’t listen to gossip. Denounce gossip when appropriate. When you hear gossip, turn the conversation and take a moment to build people up. Point out how hurtful gossip can be. Remind people their words could adversely affect a co-worker’s life. Or, if you can’t do that, then, at least, be quiet.

Don’t take any shit

Seriously. There is no reason to take shit from people. I’m not saying flip out on a person who spoke rudely to you. I’m not talking about melting down because a tone deaf jackass won’t stop making misogynistic comments around you. What I am suggesting is
that when these things happen, you calmly and clearly demand to be treated with respect. Women have spent years being told to not make waves. Ignore boorish behavior. Well, just no.

By the time we’re over 50, we’ve earned the right to tell people to back off when they behave inappropriately. There will be push back. You will get laughed at and told you lost your sense of humor. Pay no heed. At the end of the day, their opinion of you is not your business. Not taking shit feels good. It’s not always comfortable, but that is a price. Change is good. Feeling good about ourselves is amazing. Sometimes, getting there is difficult, but so very worth it.

Don’t wear uncomfortable clothes

If your office allows casual clothing, then consider, maybe, leaving the binding clothes and stilettos at home. Why not be comfortable? We have bodies. Many humans have bodies with peaks and valleys. That sounds more scenic than rolls and bulges. Is it really necessary to squeeze ourselves into squishy underwear that make a good mood nearly impossible? We are who we are. We don’t have to bind ourselves to be more visually pleasing to the other humans.

No matter what fashion magazines tell you, dressing for comfort does not equal giving up. There is nothing wrong or lazy with wanting be feel physically comfortable at work. No one will be less productive if you wear ballet flats with memory foam soles over 4” heels.

Don’t dull your light

Sooner or later, all of our lights go out, the circle of life sees to that. Before that happens, let your light shine.

Be who you are. Will you appeal to everyone? Absolutely not, which is completely cool. You don’t have to appeal to everyone. You get to be exactly you with all your hopes and dreams and quirks. Not everyone will get your jokes. Tell them anyway. Not everyone will understand your fears or your dreams.

Find a friend or a tribe who will build you up. There will always be people who will try to tear you down. Smile, move on, and live your life in a manner that feels good to you. Sure, perhaps toning down some impulses is appropriate for the office, but you can still be you, even at work.

Don’t suffer being ladylike

The word “ladylike” is used as a bludgeon against women. When do we ever hear anyone apply the word “ladylike” to a girl over 4 years old which isn’t an admonishment? We congratulate very young girls for being ladylike and then as they grow older, we remind them often that they need to be more ladylike.

Well, to hell with that. How does ladylike behavior help us? When someone tells us we need to be more ladylike, they are shaming us. They are attempting to control us. This is a way to tell us to sit down and be quiet. The word “ladylike” applied to women is an example of casual language that is putting a thumb on us. By the time we reach midlife we need to decide for ourselves how to comport ourselves. We are women. Using language to suggest we are less than female because our actions or words or appearance don’t conform to someone’s standards is silly. When we are at work, we can have opinions. We can be frustrated or tired. We may behave in ways that are not considered “ladylike”, but that is okay, because whatever we are doing is definitely “humanlike”.

Most of these suggestions work outside of work as well.

Just remember, whether you are in your cubicle or not, now is the time to understand we own our power.

We don’t have to give it away to conform to behavior or appearances we don’t find comfortable. By the time we’re 50, we should look back and extend a hand to younger women and assist them as they find their way.

Find the genuine “you” and just be her. Show younger women we can be ourselves. We can be kind and helpful. And we we can be strong. We can be examples of women who don’t compete with each other. We can work together and change the world for the better.

We can do all this from our cubicles.

Michelle Combs

Michelle Poston Combs blogs at Rubber Shoes In Hell. She has been featured on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Blunt Moms, In The Powder Room, Vibrant Nation, Better After Fifty, Midlife Boulevard, Mock Moms, Sammiches and Psych Meds, and Erma Bombecks Writers' Workshop. Rubber Shoes In Hell started in March 2013. Michelle adores blogging and has explored various subjects including parental narcissism, depression, anxiety, and menopause.

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