7 Traditionally ‘Unprofessional’ Things A Young Employee Does To Reclaim Her Identity & Time At Work

Long live the work sneaker.

young woman smiling rivage / Unsplash

The American workforce is on the edge of a major sea change, evidenced by boomers reaching retirement age and Gen Zers graduating college and climbing the ranks in the professional sphere. By 2030, one-fourth of the working population will be 65 or older, leaving doors open for younger people to stake their claim.

Among the many cultural changes Gen Zers represent, their approach to work is extremely significant.


One woman named Meg, who’s in her first job after graduating college, shared the ways she maintains her work-life balance and sense of self.

Here are 7 traditionally ‘unprofessional’ things the young employee does to reclaim her identity and time at work:

1. She wears ‘unprofessional’ jewelry

Identity politics are a major issue for women in the corporate workspace.


Female employees face more roadblocks to success than their male counterparts, as noted in a study from MIT that found that women are 14% less likely to be promoted than men, despite performance.

RELATED: Woman Told She Has To Change Her Appearance For Job Interview In Order To Be Hired

Along with the millennial rise of girl boss culture came a recommitment to hustling, which Gen Z seems to reject wholeheartedly, along with a slightly more relaxed sense of style.


As Meg showed, pantsuits and pearls have given way to women wearing accessories that would traditionally be deemed not professional: She revealed her evil-eye ring and nose piercing. 

Oftentimes, the idea of “professionalism” is used as a way to police people’s appearances, seen with strict dress codes that seem to only affect women and rules against Black employees wearing their hair in dreadlocks.

By wearing jewelry that suits her personality, Meg stays centered because our style is intrinsically connected to how we see ourselves and how we want the world to see us.

2. She listens to music when working independently

Meg also chooses to wear headphones when she does independent work, which allows her to listen to whatever music she wants, as opposed to the sound of her co-workers breathing.


On the surface, this decision might seem antisocial or inappropriate, but it challenges the idea that workers have to do their jobs in complete silence, without an ounce of enjoyment.

@yourtango Gen Z has a distaste for the traditional work environment because the route to success they’ve been told to follow their whole lives has fallen flat #worktok #corporate #genz #zoomers ♬ original sound - YourTango

Many people find that listening to music helps them focus, and there’s no real way to argue against a habit that helps productivity.

RELATED: The Age When Your Music Taste Officially Gets Old, According To Research


3. She wears sneakers

Meg prioritizes her comfort by wearing sneakers to work every day.

According to Dr. Sajid A. Surve, an associate professor in osteopathic medicine, wearing high heels decenters the body and can cause lasting physical damage.

“High heels put the foot at an angle and pull muscles and joints out of alignment, so the effects aren’t limited to the feet,” he explained. “It’s not unusual for people who spend lots of time in high heels to have low back, neck, and shoulder pain because the shoes disrupt the natural form of the body.”

young employees at work Brooke Cagle / Unsplash


Meg’s footwear choice is undeniably smart and helps protect her body for the future.

Gone are the days of forcing our feet into high heels: Long live the work sneaker!

RELATED: Young People Are Confused By What Boomer Office Workers Did All Day Before Computers & Cell Phones

4. She goes home for lunch

Meg makes her lunch break a true lunch break. Instead of sitting at her desk and eating a sad, wilted salad, she gives herself permission for true self-care by going home for lunch.

Going home for lunch is a great way to build in a break every day. Doing so allows you to be in your own space and get some distance from your workload.

Taking an actual break is a valuable tool for staying focused in the long term. Everyone deserves to take a real lunch break, one where they step away from their desks, breathe fresh air, and get themselves a little treat because they absolutely deserve it.

@yourtango We fully support living the little treat lifestyle, especially if you’re having a bad day #affirmations #badday #selfcare #youreworthit ♬ original sound - YourTango

5. She decorates her accessories according to her personality

Meg gave a sneak peek into her work tote, showing off the way she decorates her belongings in accordance with her personal sense of style.

Her laptop is covered in stickers, reminding her to take a deep breath. Her headphones are a lovely shade of rose gold. She has little bags inside her larger bag, a great way to stay organized in a messy world.

A major part of work-life balance is reminding ourselves that our jobs are not our entire identity. By keeping the little parts of herself present in her decorating scheme, Meg is doing exactly that.


woman walking wearing blazer Victoria Heath / Unsplash

6. She leaves on time

In a society where we’re expected to give ourselves over to our jobs, Meg maintains a solid work boundary by doing something that seems totally radical: She leaves work on time.

Overworking ourselves is a sure pathway toward burnout. By creating a hard and fast stop time, Meg allows herself to separate her work life from the rest of her life, something we should all be able to do.


7. She dresses in ‘age-appropriate business casual’ clothes.

Another way Meg maintains her sense of self is through her outfits. She wears clothes that are office-ready but not too stuffy, which lets her be herself, exactly as she wants to show up in the world.

@yourtango Dress codes, even in the workplace, tend to unfairly target and are disproportionately harmful to women. #dresscode #worktok #workingwoman #businessattire #workoutfit ♬ original sound - YourTango

Our productivity levels aren’t tied to what clothes we wear or how we do our hair, and to claim otherwise is to gate-keep.

In a world that tries to hold people down, we should all have the option of presenting ourselves as it suits us and taking up as much space as we need, even at work. 


RELATED: Gen-Z Worker Quits Her Well-Paying Corporate Job With No Backup Plan — ‘This Is Not The Life I Want’

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.