Sunday, January 31, 2016

No Agenda

Things have been going much better for me at work lately. For a long time, I was scared to be my real self at work, and I kept to myself a lot and didn't talk to people as much. Now, I don't know exactly how it happened or what triggered it, but I just feel so much more comfortable and I actually feel close to everyone. I've made it a serious goal to get closer to my coworkers. It's not a general goal to talk more or be more social or anything - I mean that I want to make deeper connections with people and really nurture those relationships. I want to be able to think of each other as friends, not just coworkers. I think I'm doing a good job so far. We've talked a lot more recently, and I do feel close with a few people.

I think I've gotten much better at reading people and knowing who I can and can't trust. When I think back to college, grad school, and certain friends who always pressured me, I can see what the problem is - they all had an agenda. They all had things that they wanted people to do and to be. For example, if one of these agenda people thinks that it's good to get out there and meet lots of people and participate in lots of activities, they'll act like a good friend when you express interest in doing those things. They'll be happy for you every time you mention that you've done something that falls into this category of what they think people should be doing. But the minute you say, "I don't want to meet new people or go out and do anything, I just want to stay home and be by myself," they stop being a nice friend and stop accepting you. If you say, "I had a GREAT weekend staying home by myself!" they will never, ever be happy for you the way they would if you said you went out and did stuff, even if you personally are much happier spending the weekend by yourself. If you say, "This event wasn't really for me - it was too loud and crowded and I got stuck talking to people I didn't know, when I would have preferred to just stick with my close friends," the person will pressure you to like the event rather than accept your answer. These people are hard to spot right away because if you happen to be doing what they think you should be doing, they can act like your best friend in the world, and by the time they see the parts of you that they don't approve of, you already feel like you're friends with them and don't want to break it off, even if they are clearly never going to accept you doing what makes you happy.

Having had so many "friends" with agendas, having lived at a school for 4 years where absolutely every single student was like this, I went through a phase of misjudging people, thinking that anyone who was really into something must push that agenda onto other people. For a while, I went through that phase at work too. I felt like I didn't belong and didn't share interests with anyone else. Everyone else was doing all this overtime and when they didn't stay late it was because they had family obligations or they were doing some other kind of work like helping a sibling build a deck on their house. I felt like I was the only person who didn't have work ethic, who just did the bare minimum and did absolutely zero work outside of my job. I thought I didn't fit in.

I have a couple of coworkers whom I've always talked to, who have always asked me what I was doing over the weekend. When I told them that I was doing something fun, they always were happy for me and said they hoped I had a good time. I remember when I was having my Welcome to my Apartment party two years ago, my boss was really happy for me and asked me how it went afterwards. For a past few years, I've been pretty reserved at work, only talking if people asked me personal questions first. And in that time, I've done a lot of listening. Listening to other people's conversations with each other. And that's when I realized the difference between the people I work with and the people I went to college with. People who are actually nice don't have an agenda. People who are actually nice are happy for you when you have a good weekend and feel bad for you when you have a bad weekend, regardless of what actually constitutes a good or bad weekend for you. I've listened to my coworkers talk to so many different people, and they validate everyone equally. Whether you're saying "Yay I worked lots of extra hours and got a huge paycheck!" or "Yay I'm having a party this weekend!" the people who really care validate BOTH of those things because they both make the other person happy. Maybe I don't do the things on the weekends that most of my coworkers do, but it doesn't matter. I know from my interactions with people that I do fit in. I really do. I'm with validating people.

This past Friday, my friend's mother passed away. I got the call during work. I told my boss about it because I knew that the funeral would be the following week, and she was prepared to let me go home right then. Seriously! She said, "You need to be with your friend," and was willing to let me leave work. I had already asked my friend and she said that she didn't want me to come over, but I appreciated it so much that my boss was willing to let me leave. When I go into work tomorrow, I'm going to thank my boss for being so nice about it. 

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