Wednesday, February 12, 2014

When business meets pleasure

A few weeks ago, I was recognized at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute's annual awards ceremony for all the melanoma outreach work I did last year. It was kind of fun to have my name called amidst a room full of people I admire, but believe it or not, the intent of this post isn't to gloat. Instead, I need to spill about how my work life and personal life are becoming completely incestuous.

It all started a little over a year ago when there were rumblings that Oregon Health & Science University--my employer--would be lobbying for a teen tanning ban during the Spring 2013 legislative season. In addition to testifying, I agreed to share my story on OHSU's website and to do a number of media interviews.

To put it plainly: it's one thing to spill your guts to thousands of people you'll never meet in real life. It's an entirely different thing to do so in front of your boss, your boss's boss, your colleagues down the hall, and pretty much everyone else you know in a professional capacity. My landlord saw me on TV and sent me a note. I got Facebook messages from people I hadn't spoken to since 2008. Almost a year after those interviews, I'm still running into people at meetings that say, "Hey, I saw that article you wrote about melanoma." Suddenly, my personal life isn't so personal anymore.

For the most part, people have reacted positively, although I have had a few people make offensive comments. In a way, bringing my personal life with me into the workplace has been a bit like dating a roommate. And you know what they say about s@!#$ing where you eat.

As my work and err... "outside of work" work become more deeply entwined--I'm now collaborating with OHSU on the Northwest Melanoma Walk, too--I've become hyper conscious about how my patient advocacy activities will impact my work and vice versa. It's been my lifelong dream to do work that I'm passionate about, but making myself vulnerable to colleagues has and continues to be a bit nerve racking.

I'd be curious to hear if any of you have gone through similar situations and how you've coped. Do you think that having some overlap between your work life and your personal life is harmful or beneficial? Feel free to shoot me an email at katie@prettyinpale.org.

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