Howdy folks...not y'all...only those to whom this logically dominated work culture is a huge pain in the neck. You guessed right! The creative people. Mostly those who showcase their work in the digital realm. I don't think this write-up will drastically transform any of those who are letting the termites of professionalism intrude their minds, making them hollow and submissive to professional etiquettes for years. However, if it does, welcome to the community!
What is professionalism?
There are fancy definitions all over google, making you put on a tie and walk to some corporate skyscraper for an interview. Yes, that's what it's basically all about - putting on a neck strangling tie from 9 to 5 or beyond and following some bullshit corporate protocols, sitting in a cubicle. (work from home today gives a little physical freedom but mental tension persists.)
Professionalism is obeying the rituals just to make your bank account brim with money and pay the bills. Any other definition of this word is only made by those who have been badly harassed for a great amount of time and just to save their ass and make others suffer as they did, they caress the word delicately, giving it a promising luster.
All my creative friends if you are fooled by this luster, beware! The three points discussed below will make you second guess your decision to step into the professional premises.
For those who still think that being professional can save their arse, you have two options - either read this article for fun and forget it or go to another fancy article speculating the benefits of being, 'professional.' But for those who hate the word 'professional' so much that they have or want to eliminate it from their dictionary, you are welcome to go through the three subtitles below.
1. You can't be you
This is the topmost disadvantage of being excessively professional. You simply can't be you. Will you let your soul suffer for 20 to 50 or even more years of your career only to caress the temporary luxuries? The piece of paper fills up your belly. Agreed. But your bank account doesn't bloat. Your belly does.
The main motive behind staying professional is to gain monetary benefits. But at the cost of what? At the cost of your health, relationship, and peaceful living. But mainly at the cost of being in someone's shoes. If being professional means only earning more and sacrificing who you are and what really excites you, I wish you good luck.
For a few developed European countries that allow their denizens to practice what they really love in the pastime by making them work less each day, it's fine to indulge in a few hours of professionalism. But I bet the creative people may still have an objection there.
The rise in professionalism is indirectly proportional to the decline in creative freedom. In a suffocating attire that is a tie, shirt, formal pants, and coat, you can't go against any company's rules. Even if you want, there's a procedure involved. You have to explain the project head, then create a presentation and then say it out loud standing in front of a projector, explaining how your idea can change things. Even after doing this, you can't guarantee that your opinion will be considered.
But in a creative studio, you simply have to let your team leader know over a cup of coffee that your viewpoint sounds interesting. That may get dismissed too. However, you saved yourself from the lengthy process of presentation and approval.
If you are a pure artist-writer, designer, or music composer, you suffer so much as you are under constant pressure to adhere to the company's rules (even where casual outfits are allowed) and simultaneously extract the creative juices into your artistry. Over years, you find yourself to be just like everyone around you and may lose your real self down the line.
The renowned author Dale Carnegie's case study for his book, 'Stop Worry and Start Living,' I think, is the best example to make me understand how being professional, you lose yourself. At least I see it that way.
Gene Autry gave up his texas accent and even faked that he is from Newyork. People weren't impressed. But when he leaped back to his real self - singing cowboy ballads, he became a renowned cowboy.
This shows how creative people need to be who they are if they what to make an impact. If you try to be professional, forcing yourself to fit in some given standards, you don't feel comfy in your skin. If you aren't you, it affects your performance as a creative person, and the odds of spending a mere mediocre life are high. To stick to particular standards (giving it the name 'being professional') and to suppress your uniqueness is sickening.
2. You lack a sense of control
I recently watched some author interviews. Almost every other writer told that they were better off self-publishing their novels than giving them to a particular publishing company.
Publishing a book ain't a cream puff. You put your heart into it. But what if someone tells you that you should cling to a particular set of guidelines, and come up with certain changes in order to approve your book for publishing? And if you don't, you get a cliched remark - 'you are unprofessional.'
Many authors, since the second decade of the 21st century, have stated that they lack a sense of freedom when they follow the routes of traditional publishing. Apart from the vulnerability of rejection, they have to make a long and lonesome wait until they hear from publishers.
To be professional is to lock up your creativity in a box and bury it and throw the key into a thunderous waterfall, never to find it again.
The above example applies to many other creative fields like animation for instance. The fun we have as we see the animated movies doesn't always equals or at worst is absent in the artists who spend restless hours day in and day out tweaking one second of animated video.
The horrible bosses tag every soul-pricking thing as being 'professional' but they fail to tag their employees' health and working hours. (Not everywhere but in a higher percentage.)
With no control over work hours, no control over how you dress (in most cases), and fewer odds of your ideas getting approved, a human with emotions lacks a sense of control gradually after licking the buttocks of 'system-fucked' professionals.
When there is a lack of control, you simply can't be you. Whenever you try to be you, you are dismissed as being unprofessional. You can't fully leverage your inner potential and use it to drive the results you wish.
Like a soulless puppet tied to some upper (upper but not higher) authority, you keep following protocols and the hard bridge taking you to your dreams crumbles away as your viewpoints, ideas, and perceptions aren't considered.
3. Your finances lay an upper hand over your creativity
The biggest struggle of all time is to let happiness and money go hand in hand. Some achieve it but for creative people, it's a long meandering route. For creativity can't be monetized or at least can't be completely monetized, every artist goes through a financial crisis. But with the changing world, creativity, up to some extent can be monetized. However, the presence of professionals around the creatives is threatening.
The greedy company owners just want the work to be done in less amount of time while giving the best output. It only means that the employees (artists) are forced to attach time constraints to creativity. Every agency has certain targets but some unrealistic 'deadlines' are deeply demoralizing. And why these owners are in a hurry? Because they want to earn as much and as quickly as possible and pay as less as they can to the talented employees.
So the motivation shifts from creative freedom to monetary bondage. Over time, the artists acquire the speed and demand the same from their juniors. The quality sometimes is attained and most of the time it isn't. However, there is a lack of work-life balance and an additional amount of stress to come up with something new in less time only to receive increments. Money makes a firm place in the big picture.
So someone who takes more time to do a task, even if she/he is highly creative, is called unprofessional. The ticking clock has always been an enemy of fearless imagination and creativity. Punctuality is associated with professionalism.
If you put creative freedom above money, the officials will crack up at your performance, tagging you as 'unprofessional.' But that's good. Who the hell wants to be professional after all if it demands a constant weight of professionalism strung to the creative premises?
Over the years, I had come across various shitty clients and horrible bosses. The major issue was the imbalance between time and creativity. Another important pain in the neck was the obligation to accept anything just for the sake of filling pockets.
Lately, the client I had worked with was too cold to discuss the problems I was facing with him. After a month of work, he pointed out my mistakes, saying the article is rejected and I will not be paid for rejected content.
I was ready to make corrections and make it more creative as per the expectations. But it was too late for him to tell that. Plus, when I put my time and efforts into something, even if that isn't up to the mark, I should get paid.
I remember him boasting about how he runs a professional business. Recently he said, he too, has to bear the losses. I agreed to that and convinced him to come to a middle ground. He discussed nothing and gave me another assignment out of the blue. I denied working with him further.
I ain't denying the payments but I hate it when someone puts money above their creative freedom. I also hate it when the time and effort a creative person puts into their work, go unpaid.
Being professional doesn't mean you shouldn't discuss the problems you are facing. And after all, it was never discussed before that the rejected articles would go unpaid. Where did the crazy professionalism go?
Using the shield of professionalism to their advantage and harassing the employees and freelancers like me, making us work more, demand more creativity in very less time, and pay as less as possible is a sign of a client/boss being nonsensical AF and still saying they are professional.
Professionalism gradually makes the maniacs who are so-called bosses, prone to fascism. They have the authority to make and break rules, but they expect their employees-cum-slaves to adhere to professionalism which only means being as fast as Usain bolt and as creative as Pablo Picasso, and as low-paid as..well..themselves.
A blogger who doesn't follow the soul-piercing SEO trends is also considered a non-professional in the writing industry. SEO has made the art of writing quite technical and monotonous. I'm an anti-SEO writer. Falling prey to too many corrections and losing the joy of working has been an overwhelming part of my struggle against clients.
To be professional and to expect your colleagues and employees to be the same is like denying to be humans with emotions. If you wanna lose your authentic self by losing control over how much and how well you work and let the bait of professionalism fool you, then go ahead and caress the egos of the so-called executives.
Gradually the endless cycle of professionalism will lead you to an abyss where no amount of money can set free your soul's repressed voice. If it's unprofessional to be you, then it's unethical to be professional.
I hate the word 'professionalism.' I expelled it from my dictionary a long way back. Instead, I had instilled this new word, 'Creationalism,' which I don't aim to be a part of any dictionary but a crucial part of a creative realm residing in each of us.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Niks