My simplest description of emotional labor is to call it “invisible work”: The work that goes into managing households and relationships to make them run smoothly. It was first introduced and has been studied for many years as a workplace issue in sociology as the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job. Of course the idea of managing feelings and expressions and fulfilling emotional requirements applies to the “jobs” we do at home as well, and the “invisible work” I described of managing households and relationships applies to the workplace. These two definitions complement and intertwine with one another and bleed into almost all aspects of life for many women. I can, of course, speak to emotional labor best from my personal worldview, which is that of a white, middle-class, heterosexual wife, mother, and business owner. Women of color, trans women, female immigrants, lesbian women, bisexual women, and impoverished women must navigate the complexities of marginalization (often several layers of it at once) along with their emotional labor. I cannot begin to understand the level of exhaustion that must bring.
Over the course of the retreat, our goals were to create opportunities for relationship-building and bonding for the new class, and providing thought-provoking prompts for each woman to reflect on her career path and goals for the coming year.
We were SO excited to work with them again this week for their Quarterly Meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
Each topic comes with it’s own unique objectives, but these benefits of a women’s initiative workshop are consistent. Before you plan your next event, ask yourself: Will it create bonds? Will it work? And will it last?
If you are developing purposeful mentor relationships and giving a bit of structure to them, there should also be a structure in place for knowing when it is time to wrap up the ‘formal’ part of your agreement. We know this person has become important to you over time, and they certainly don’t drop out of your life—it may just be time to free up your time (and theirs) for a more beneficial relationship for your next challenge.
I strongly believe in the power of having key mentors to guide and support you through this crazy life. By following these ground rules, we can show the impact that purposeful, time-sensitive, sometimes unexpected, but overall done-right mentorship relationships can have. Maybe we’ll even win over a few eye-rollers in the process!