Feb 19, 2017

Life changes...

Time proves to ever be the mechanism of self-discovery and I am always grudgingly forced to come to terms with those discoveries. What things are a part of your makeup (those qualities and traits), usually the bad things get more focused with age whether you want them to or not.

Last night I went to a company office party, it was the first one of these things I had gone to in several years. Being a freelancer as I have been for so very long means you are given something of outsider status. Even in the most welcoming of work situations there is still a sense of being a mercenary and not a ‘company’ man.

I’m okay with that even though I’ve very much been wanting to land a staff gig over the last two years but, anyway back to the company holiday soiree - the last one of these things I went to was maybe four or five years ago. At the time I worked for a big company and the entire office was involved and even though an invitation had not been directly extended one of the people I was working with had gotten stuck at the office too and insisted I come along. I was glad I did because the party involved cooking your own meal at a cooking school and overall I have nice memories of the night.

I’m not a big party person though, I don’t know if I ever have been. I don’t find group dynamics to my liking generally and I got slapped in the face with that reality yet again. I was flattered to be invited by the people who own the small company at the client I’m working with. It showed a level of largesse and class to extend the invitation and to be inclusive. That’s nice but again not a party person here.

So I went and we were in a beautiful restaurant with really good food and impossibly slow service. I left after four hours and dessert had yet to be served. Again, while the food was good as the evening got increasingly late, I just couldn’t eat (I’ve come to the realization eating after a certain time of day is very, very bad for me) and I found myself unable to continue.

This actually wound up in the drafts queue quite recently because it dealt with the past holiday season. The thing here is I really was very flattered the client I was working at had the grace to invite me to their holiday party - when you’re a freelancer that can or can’t happen. Sometimes it can go a long way to making you feel very much like an outsider too.

Not that being an outsider is a bad thing, I have to love the attitude of some people on staff who are so miserable they want to lord it over the freelancers but then the flip side is that you are not as entirely beholden as they are to the nuances of the workplace.

So, I did get invited but really, most of the time at work I am not, how shall we say this? Comfortable.

I’m not crazy about open offices or lack of privacy. Unless I’m really comfortable small talk is a real laborious task. I do feel very disconnected and I am very focused on work.

There is such a schism between my work personality and how I am normally that one time awhile ago I hired someone to work under me who I knew outside of work. A few months later we were together with a mutual friend and he commented on how dramatically different I was at work and how surprised he had been. As he put it, PJ’s such a mellow guy but at work he’s so serious.

And I am, I take work REALLY seriously. It’s important to me not just to do a job but to do a really GOOD job. So much so it can be exhausting and unfortunately we are in a time when you really can’t be idle at work anymore, downtime is a thing of the past so it’s hard to balance the intensity of it being busy.

I went to the party and admittedly I was uncomfortable. The whole thing was inordinately long... as I said above, it took something like four hours for the entire meal to be served! It wasn’t go, have a drink, some Hors d'oeuvres and then a decent meal followed by more drinks if so inclined.

No this was a painfully slow process and I did leave before the thing was over (and that was close to 10 after getting to the place at 6:30).

Anyway, I think of myself as quiet but that’s my own disconnect and at this party I ran at the mouth (because of the uncomfortable silences) and felt so terribly embarrassed by it I didn’t even want to go back in to work the next day. I didn’t have a THING to drink either! It was just me running at the mouth.

Then I got to thinking about whether or not I like parties and the truth is, I don’t. It’s a bit of sensory overload for me and I don’t find it at all relaxing. Holidays can be that way too although I am enough of a pill I’ve gotten uninvited of late (which is its own double edged sword in and of itself).

I’m thinking now as I am getting to the point in life where I have to stop being unhappy with the way I am and just start accepting it. To that end I will be much more selective how and with who I spend my time. I can do just fine left to my own devices and without Valium or some other such aid to ramp down the internal chaos going on in social situations I can manage a fairly peaceful life.

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