Tag Archives: friends

making work friends

This morning, I was skimming Facebook and saw that a group of women from my office had gone out for drinks last night to celebrate a former colleague’s.  My absence from this group is not particularly telling or indicative of anything to do with me or my value as a person, colleague or friend.  It is just a group of current co-workers who have been going out as a group for years, while I sit anti-socially at my desk.

In fact, my anti-social status at the office is so extreme that I am missing the company picnic today because I didn’t cross-reference my work and personal calendars before making plans for the school closure dates.  Therefore, I am hosting Ben’s friends for a day of “please entertain each other” activities instead of re-bonding with my own co-workers.   Part of this is because I’ve been offsite for the past year, and upon returning, instead of attempting to re-bond with colleagues, I decided to hide at my desk and pretend I don’t know anyone anymore.

My failure to prioritize this kind of in-office socializing is probably why I am rarely invited to events outside the office.  On a daily basis,  I make the choice not to get up from my desk and talk to people, which results in not being invited to events outside of the workday.  And for the past few years, I have prioritized my son’s birthday over the company picnic – and then this year, the one year I could have gone, I invited three of his buddies over to hang out instead of sending Ben to chess camp for the day, so I am now committed to staying home with a houseful of ten year olds.

It therefore should not be a surprise that I’m  not invited to office social gatherings, and yet, I’m still sad and disappointed when it happens and I see it posted about retroactively.  It’s just so hard to get over my fear of socializing at the office.  I worried for years that people didn’t like me, and only put up with me because they were obligated to engage with me, a fear everyone has but that I actually had reinforced in me twenty years ago by a co-worker who told me that was how she felt.  Now I not only worry people don’t like me, but also worry that the obligation to engage positively with me is higher since I am management and sometimes, I am someone’s direct or indirect boss.

This is not a surprising phenomenon to many people, I’m sure.  There’s mixed feelings on work friendships.  TV teaches us that it’s the norm to have a workplace social circle, but I  have never had that kind of extended work/social life.  I am friendly with co-workers, and often remain good friends with people after leaving a job, but it isn’t a regular occurrence to have that kind of interaction.  I do not believe this is abnormal, especially for people with children and/or other priorities outside the office, and the New York Times seems to emphasize that work friendships can be weird and inconsistent by running articles on a regular basis talking about issues that crops up in these strange hybrid relationships.

Is there a not-awkward, non-creepy way to make friends as a grown-up?

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</script
 

It would be easy to be safe and just cocoon further into my loner, anti-social status, but that isn't what I want.  I know that my co-workers are people I would like spending time with if I wasn’t so anxious about it.  The problem is that added stress of thinking, “does this person like me or are they just putting up with me” kills most of the joy I would get from the encounter, and makes it difficult for me to reflect positively on the fact that this is a cool, smart, interesting person with their own perspective on the workplace we share and have in common.  It’s difficult to engage in a positive, meaningful conversation during a workday as it is – I’m always worried I’m  keeping someone from something more important – and then my fear of whether or not my presence is received the same way makes it even more difficult for me to engage in a verbal exchange that would add collateral to the friendship.

Therefore, I’ve  been hiding at my desk, nodding at people when I see them, smiling and saying hello, and praying I don’t have to actually engage because THAT IS HARD AND CAUSES FEAR.

Image result for making friends grown up funny

I empathize with this SO HARD.  It’s how I know Daria is really covering for insecurity!

I’m asking myself now, what can I actually do about this?  Do I have to come out and talk to people and put myself out there despite a crippling fear of rejection?  Do I have to make going to company events and happy hours more of a priority?  We’re moving to a new office soon, after all – can I make it a priority to talk to people there?  Can I engage more through the “Women in Leadership” initiative, making sure I show up for those events?  Would it help if i went into the office more days instead of working from home all the time?  What if I reached out more to co-workers, current and former, attempting to get to know them on a 1:1 basis and setting aside time to do so?

The answer to all of these things is yes, and the answer to everything is that I have to just work a little harder at engaging in meaningful social interactions, both in creating the opportunity to do so and in finding conversation to make that isn’t awkward when those opportunities come up.  That isn’t easy for me – I sometimes feel like I’m missing a critical part of the human personality, the part that puts people at ease and makes people feel comfortable with me, the part that makes me likeable.  That, however, is an insecurity for an entire other day.  For today, I need to go problem solve a way to get to that company picnic!

urban village, re-created

This is the dinner table from Bats Day last week. Left to right: my roomate Andrew, my cousin Anton, Paul’s friend Paula, Paul, me, and my good friend Amanda. Wendy is, unfortunately, not in the photo, so it isn’t QUITE complete, but you can see how much fun we’re having anyways.

I’m at the point now with my friends here in California that I was in Vancouver when I left two years ago. It’s started to feel more like being part of a tribe, or being part of a created extended family, than it is like the casual associations I started the relationships with. I know that these things shouldn’t be revelations, but I’ve been a nomad for so long, and have been so detached from the rest of humanity for so much of my life, that I’d only just learned in BC what it was like to be part of a group of awesome people.

So there it is – a photo taken at a dinner table, at which I was surrounded by people I dearly, dearly love. Of course it was an awesome day in the park, and we rode the rides and sang the songs and acted like idiots as much as possible. I’m a lucky girl to have had that day, with those people. I’m lucky that I get time with my friends all the time. In a country where so many people are lonely, where I myself have gone through terrible loneliness, to have this kind of people in one’s life is an extremely good fortune.

thank you notes

First, let me say how sad I was that I didn’t have a chance to see more of you people in Vancouver. Especially since it was heeeraldo‘s birthday party on Saturday, and I was over on the Island that evening, and couldn’t make it. I told nafspeak to kiss them for me though. Because I’m just delayed – it may be for months, or years, but I always get back to Vancouver again.

However, I am very grateful to the people who took so much time and effort to make my trip that much easier and happier when I was there. dream_king picked me up at YVR, with his gorgeous baby daughter. His lovely wife, pester, was not feeling well enough to come out, which was a shame, but I was delighted to see Ziv and meet Ruth Khava. I especially appreciated that his first question to me, after “do you want to hold her?”, was, “how was that Hex event?” Ziv may have grown up and got married and had a baby, but I was very glad to see he was still interested in hearing about good old fashioned fetish/goth party events.

Ziv dropped me off with the always charming sharolyn – and her adorable, if less charming dog. We immediately proceeded to kill a bottle of chardonnay while catching up on the usual girl talk. I know I always have a place to sleep with Shar – provided she has space – which means a lot to me. She’s provided me with a lot of hospitality since I left Vancouver. We were up until three in the morning, chatting and laughing and bonding, as per usual.

I woke up the next morning with a white wine hangover, and sort of grunted at cracksmurf when I called him. Fortunately, Graham’s seen me hung over many times in the four and change years since we’ve been friends. College friends are great for having seen you at your worst! So he drove me, in his rented Yaris (which I insist on calling the “Y’ARRRRS!”) to Tim Hortons, so I could procure an all-Canadian lunch. We then proceeded to Kits Beach, where we sat on logs and caught up on our lives. Which ended when the Local Homeless Guy showed up, and proceeded to tell us about his horrible divorce, and about how his kids didn’t care about him, and then told Graham, “Never get married, man. BE A STALLION!” And then it was time to go.

Graham dropped me back downtown, where I met back up with Shar for tea and a snack before I had to catch a bus to Victoria. And that was it. Those were the people I got to see. I totally missed nafspeak, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing about half a dozen miscellaneous AUSketeers/SUSers/hacks, but I’ll be back someday. Probably Yankee Thanksgiving – next trip is via SeaTac, not YVR. But it was wonderful to see the people I could, and I loved spending time with you all, and thank you for the rides/hospitality. Anytime anyone wants to visit LA (shut the hell up, Graham, I KNOW you’re yelling “HELLHOLE” up there at the screen), y’all call me, y’hear?