This morning, I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and was immediately horrified at the state of my hair: Messy, matted and dirty. I looked like an unkempt shih tzu.
But then I thought, what’s the point? I’m not seeing colleagues. I’m not meeting any Big Law muckety-mucks. Do I really need to get dolled-up to make my daily run to CVS for toilet paper, which always ends in vain? Hell no.
Then it hit me: There’s a silver lining to this coronavirus ordeal. You can look like a Neanderthal and it won’t matter one iota.
So I racked my brain for other positive aspects of this crisis. And miraculously, I found a few bright spots. Oh, I know they’re small comforts, but permit me to share:
This is the death knell for workplace face-time. (No, I don’t mean the kind on your phone.) Remember all those discussions about flexible working arrangements and how some firms acted like they’re doing lawyers a big favor for permitting remote work? (Just over a year ago, Weil, Gotshal & Manges patted itself on the back for allowing associates with at least three years of seniority to work from home.) Well, that is ancient history. After this crisis, you can work from a treehouse—and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.
You no longer have to hide your kids or personal life. Now that everyone is trapped at home, lawyers—particularly women—can be more open about their parental duties and not fear being judged as unprofessional. Before you know it, the sounds of domestic life (babies crying, children throwing temper tantrums, dogs barking) will be considered normal work noise—like the clickety clack of typewriters in the old days.
You are saving a lot of money. Consider what you’ve saved just in the last week or two: Canceled vacations to Europe, theater tickets and reservations at Jean Georges. And that’s not counting all the ongoing vanity expenses you have, like makeup (news alert: Sephora is closed for the sake of public health), haircuts, highlights, Botox, facials, mani-pedis and personal trainers. Now, there’s nothing to spend money on except toilet paper and Purell.
Yes, you can be a super parent. All that self-grooming you’ve abandoned entailed not just expenditure of money but also time. (Hey, it’s not easy to look the part of a spiffy Big Law mover and shaker.) These days, you have a simplified, purer lifestyle, so the whole work-life balance should be a much more achievable goal. You can finally have it all—be that high-power lawyer and a hands-on parent.
You can be totally authentic. This gets back to my original point: Your appearance no longer matters, so you can let your work speak for itself and dispense with the superficialities. You don’t have to worry about whether you look the part, have sufficient executive presence or other such nonsense. Except for some fleeting cameos on Zoom, you’re basically invisible to the world. So why not work away and set loose your inner slob?
No one will care how awful you look or smell. True, maybe your spouse will complain, but do you care?
Contact Vivia Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @lawcareerist.