I’m not trying to undermine the power of the motivational Post-it notes all over the bathroom, but I was assigned the 3rd-floor women’s restroom this week, and my supervisor will be pissed if I don’t clean the mirror.
As a woman, I know that the restroom can be a safe haven from the terrors of a cold, patriarchal corporation. I realize that reading Post-it notes of encouragement on the bathroom mirror is a pick-me-up to get through the day after Zack talked over you during an entire hour-long meeting.
But the mirror has developed a layer of grime that I have to remove so that I do not get fired.
“BE BOLD. BE AWESOME.”
This is not the first time this has happened.
When the #MeToo movement first picked up momentum, Tina from brand marketing kicked off what she liked to call a “guerrilla internal marketing campaign” (she pronounced it ‘GIRL-illa,’ which I thought was pretty cheeky).
At the end of the week and three stacks of Post-it notes later, I waited until 6:45 pm to enter the restroom, sure that everyone had gone home by then. As I started to remove a note that said “BELIEVE IN YOURSELF — THAT IS YOUR VALIDATION!” the door opened and a judgmentally perplexed woman asked me, “Um, what are you doing?”
“NOTHING!” I yelped and grabbed a nearby bottle of bleach that I began spraying into the sink. Clearly, I did not believe in myself enough to validate me doing my job.
The days passed, and the mirror became rich with feminist fervor and soap scum.
Eventually, my boss, Chuck, realized what was going on and confronted me. I felt guilty. I tried to explain to Chuck why removing these Post-its during such an important moment for women would not look great. He took my plea as an opportunity to quip that if the mirror wasn’t shining, my performance review wouldn’t be either. Thanks, Chuck.
“OVARIES BEFORE BROVARIES.”
Hear me out: I don’t want to get a reputation for obstructing the grassroots social justice movement taking place in the bathroom, but I’ve thought of every possible way to avoid this. I could clean around the Post-its. I could lift up the notes one-by-one and clean each spot individually. I could take a picture of the entire mirror, remove the sticky notes to clean, and then replace them exactly as they were. But that all seems either too tedious or too inadequate, and I’m just trying to do my job.
Every new Post-it note that goes up is a moment for me to continually check in with myself and who I want to be. Do I want to be the type of person who helps empower women inside the walls of corporate America, or do I want to be the type of person who does my work thoroughly so that I get a raise?
“YOU’VE GOT THIS!”
Wait a minute — what am I saying? I can’t let little pieces of paper prevent me from succeeding at work. I have student loans to pay off. What the heck would Gloria Steinem think about me if she knew I was letting the system (in this case, an employee morale booster) prevent me from achieving what I need to get done?!
That’s it. I’m going to take them down.
“JUMP AND YOU WILL LEARN HOW TO UNFOLD YOUR WINGS AS YOU FALL.”
Well, I don’t know. Maybe I should leave them up. Should I leave them up?
Okay, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll write my own Post-it note, but it’ll be an obvious hint that this whole bathroom mirror frenzy has got to end because I’m so done with this.
That’ll get my point across.