We spend more time with some of our colleagues than we do with our family and friends, but how well do we really know them? From secret identities to workplace crushes, five people share their biggest work secrets with us.
I have photos of my husband in my office, but not our son
“I’ve chosen to keep the fact that I’m a stepmom to one son secret from my colleagues in my new position. I’ve been a stepmom for five years and it’s very important to me. My husband and I decided against having our own children, so this is my only chance to be a mom. We have my stepson two weekends per month, and that time is really special.
But I’ve had negative experiences at past jobs with people making inappropriate comments that have made me feel super uncomfortable. They’ve asked things that I feel are no one’s business, like ‘Don’t you want your own kids?’ or ‘How do you get along with his ex?’ Co-parenting is difficult, of course, but I choose not to focus on the drama that always comes with it.
I have photos of my husband and friends in my office, but not our son. It’s difficult not to mention him in conversations with colleagues when I can relate to them and want to share something similar. But I catch myself at the last minute and just listen instead.”- Stacy
Almost none of my co-workers know about my ‘secret identity’
“I have been doing cosplay for almost 10 years now and am a pretty prominent figure in my local cosplay scene. I’ve also participated in international competitions and met new people around the world through the art of cosplay – I’ve probably made 90% of my friends through my hobby. My most memorable costume was the Joker.
But I work in an office environment, in HR and social marketing. It’s pretty hard to explain to my colleagues that in my spare time I compete in competitions where we dress up as fictional characters and try to get the closest resemblance possible, and almost none of my co-workers know about my ‘secret identity’. I have reservations about being more outspoken about my hobby at work, and I don’t want to risk anything when it comes to getting promoted.
But I would actually love to tell my colleagues about my hobby. I want to work on eliminating the stigma that cosplay and other ‘nerdy’ hobbies are for children.”- Alex
Sometimes I find it hard to conceal my feelings
“I have had a big crush on the co-founder of my company for more than eight years. Before we worked together, we both went to the same university and that’s where everything started. Since then, my feelings for him have grown bigger.
When you have feelings for someone, you want to see and talk to them every day, and working together means I can do that. Sometimes I find it hard to conceal my feelings. How can I stay calm and act normally when he is right there? I love looking at him when he speaks in front of our team or when he concentrates on his work because he looks so attractive. But I never let myself get distracted for long.
I don’t think my colleagues know I have a crush on him because no one has asked me about it, and there isn’t any gossip in our workplace. I think I’m pretty safe at the moment, but actually, I don’t care much about how my colleagues would react. What worries me is that I’m not sure what my crush would say. Everything could become awkward and we might not be friends anymore, so I prefer to keep my feelings secret.”- Jill
I’m not ashamed of my blog, but I want to be taken seriously at work
“I have kept it completely secret from my colleagues that I have a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle blog. I am a Business Manager in an engineering firm and the fashion at work is drab, to say the least. My blog enables me to connect with something that is lacking in my day to day and fulfills that creative part of my life.
The main reason that I haven’t mentioned my blog to my colleagues is because I believe that they would lose respect for me if they knew. I want to be taken seriously in my new role, especially being a woman in an office and industry that is male-dominated. I’m not ashamed of my blog though, I’m actually very proud of what I have built.
I can imagine telling the staff who I am closest to about it in the future if the right situation arises - I am always dressed up for work, and I don’t think they would be so surprised. But for the moment I am happy keeping my blogger life and my work life separate.”- Anna
I never told anyone I was desperately lonely
“My former colleagues didn’t know that they were the most important people in my life for a while. Me and my colleagues all worked remotely and I never met any of them in the flesh, but we spent all day together in chat rooms. What they didn’t know was that once we logged off for the day it was most likely that I would have no more human interaction until it was time to log back on again the next day, or Monday morning if it was the weekend.
Loneliness was never a problem for me before the pandemic. Despite the fact I live alone in the country I would often go into town to meet friends. Then came the lockdown. At work, I was the joker in the pack, and I kept up the jokes and the banter because it kept spirits high within the team. I didn’t want to lose that, so I never told anyone even though I was desperately lonely.
I don’t know what their reaction would have been if I told them. I probably feared that they would start feeling sorry for me–something I did not want. It was a troubling time for everyone and no one needed me suddenly changing from being the joker in the pack to the complainer in the corner.”- James
Photo: Welcome to the Jungle
More inspiration: Daily worklife
Is it worth joining a shadow board?
Are shadow boards a reverse mentoring system that benefits all, or just labor exploitation in a new suit?
Dec 15, 2022
Here’s why you don’t need to be irreplaceable at work
Do we want to be considered irreplaceable at work? Sure, it might give us a confidence boost in the moment, but is it worth it in the long run?
Sep 07, 2022
Thinking of recommending a friend for that job? Here’s how to get it right
You know them as a friend, but what are they really like at work? And how liable are you if things go wrong?
Nov 23, 2021
Public speaking: 7 tips from a pro
Your legs are shaky, your heart is racing and your voice is weak. Many of us are all too familiar with the signs of anxiousness...
Nov 15, 2021
Bystander Effect: why we are silent towards harassment even in open-plan offices
Our thinking changes when we're in groups. It can even impact how and when we take action. How does this impact harassment in the workplace?
Sep 27, 2021
The newsletter that does the job
Want to keep up with the latest articles? Twice a week you can receive stories, jobs, and tips in your inbox.
Looking for your next job opportunity ?
More than 200,000 candidates have found a job with Welcome to the JungleExplore jobs