Today, a rare work-related post. Not about the work I do or where the work I do is located but the more generic business of office politics. [edited to add: that’s what I thought this post would be about, but it ends up being more a statement on my life. stick with it]
In the last post, I mentioned how someone once called me a “joiner.” That’s not really true anymore. In fact, I try to keep to myself in most situations. Even in social non-work situations, I’ll generally keep to myself or hang out with one or two people. I am not as forthcoming with my heart as I once was and that has transcended into my work life to a degree. Where many co-workers go out to lunch together, or perhaps get together after work for drinks or even hang out on the weekends, I choose not to participate in that casual kind of gatherings. That is not to say I don’t have friends at work. In fact, I’ve made some very dear friends from my work life, but they are a rare breed. They have to not only hold my interest, but be willing to get to know me. Sometimes, people aren’t willing to invest like that. I’m a prime example.
So, today at work, there was talk amongst some of my co-workers about forming a bowling team. There is an annual event, I think to raise money for Junior Achievement, in which various teams are formed from different departments. There can be 5 people to a team. I didn’t participate last year. I had no desire to participate this year. But since our department has grown significantly since last year’s event, we have enough people for 3 teams. As different people were lobbying to secure their team, I was passed over. One friend, someone I had also worked with in my previous job, and who has gotten to know me pretty well, joked and asked if I wanted to be on a team. My response was, “I wasn’t even asked!” That, to me, didn’t indicate that I wanted to be included, but rather that perhaps my co-workers know me well enough to know that I wasn’t interested.
After it all shook out, everyone was on a team except one guy who’s wife is expecting their 2nd child on the day of the event and me. And I’m totally fine with that. I have very little desire to participate in these outings, and I’m hard-pressed to really explain why. In one way, I think it’s that I don’t like big group activities, and yet, I love going to a friend’s house for a party (such as the Superbowl). Overall, I think a lot of it is that I don’t want to know these folks socially. And it’s really no judgment against them, I guess I just don’t want to go through the getting to know you process beyond what already has been learned in the work environment. Is that terrible? Upon writing it, I realize it’s very much the same feeling as not wanting to re-connect with people from high school. Perhaps there is some judgment on my part in that I don’t think we have much in common so why force it? I’m so much more interested in meeting and maybe getting to know some of the bloggers who I’ve come to read regularly. With them, I have some background already, from their words, so I know there’s a better chance of finding common ground. With my co-workers, in the day-to-day time spent with them, I can glean enough to know that the day-to-day stuff is good enough and I don’t need to go beyond it. Man, I sound so bitchy.
But I wonder if there are others who feel this way? I think a lot of it started in my previous job. I think I tried to connect with people, but my world was so different. Back then, when I got home from work, I was already back out the door going to the coffeehouse or the bar to listen to live music or write or perform. That world was so much more real to me, so much more meaningful. My nightlife was how I lived, how I fed my soul. My work life was how I sustained my nightlife. I think that attitude has stuck with me through the years, though the nightlife has become more and more tame.
I like my current job and it can be fulfilling, but I’ve never wanted to consider it (or whatever I did as a way to earn my living) the end all be all of my existence. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to make my living as a poet, or rather that I didn’t have the steadfastness to do that. The job I had before this one, I got while I was in college. It was always meant to just be a way to make money. I morphed it, over 14 years, to become a career that incorporated what I loved, writing. But it wasn’t poetry, so I learned how to still do poetry, how to still consider myself a poet when I was away from my job. And in that mindset, I was able to create the house concert series and build up my artistic self in that way.
In my current job, I’ve tried to connect the two worlds, the work world with my poetic/musical one, by inviting co-workers to events or letting them know about readings or other cool things (like hey, I know a Grammy winner! Incidentally, congratulations Awesome Mastering Guy! He even got some TV air time when “Raising Sand” by Robert Plant & Allison Krauss won Album of the Year), but more often than not, their ‘after-work’ world doesn’t involve such events or happenings, so the cross-over rarely happens. So maybe, that plays into my own reluctance to participate in work events that take us off-site or are beyond the normal scope of a work day. As I’ve noted, I am not a fan of the holiday parties, the corporate shin-digs, though I can see why they do them and that many people truly dig them and look forward to them as part of their social scene. I’m more interested in what goes on away from work, or rather, I’m more than content to have my work time and then to have my life time. I enjoy them both for what they are and don’t feel obligated to make them one and the same.
This post turned into something else than I intended, but I’m still glad for it. And I finally feel like this blog is becoming what I’d hoped it would be, a launching pad for my philosophies and a place to try to figure things out while still keeping my faithful readers up to date on what’s going on with me. 🙂
What this post has sparked in me is that notion of working to live rather than living to work. I’ve always been a fan of the former, but it begs the question, am I feeding my soul the best I can once I depart that office building? Is that philosophy producing any tangible contentment? In the last couple years, maybe three or four, it feels like I’ve nearly shed that mindset, and become more of a drone than anything else. And coupled with my inherent laziness, I’ve let it happen, and I realize that I’m not that stoked about it.
But if I can identify that change, maybe it’s not a lost cause. And maybe that’s why I wanted to start this blog in the first place, and why I made a Mondo Beyondo list this year. The difference is the pressure I put on myself. I spent so many years cultivating the poet and artist in me as who I was that when the muse was not as forthcoming with me, it became more and more difficult to manifest those qualities and so it feels (felt) like I couldn’t claim those titles anymore. But in blathering on about this work situation, I realize that that’s still mainly how I see myself.
Hmmm, I feel like I just had a kind of breakthrough.