Sometimes I’m pretty sensitive. When I get yelled at or my feelings are hurt, I go through a litany of reasons about why something is probably my fault, even if it really isn’t. No one needs to make me feel like an idiot because I usually do a pretty good job of making myself feel like one.
This happens more when I’m stressed or having an unusual run of bad luck. Then I snap out of it. But it also happens at work when co-workers press me to attend more social events than I have time for. For a lot of reasons, I usually decline. To offer an explanation would set me up for criticism about why the reason isn’t a good one. Then they offer a smug grimace.
I work in an environment where people want, no, yearn, to be very social with each other outside the work day. While it’s great that people who work together also like each other, there is a lot of pressure put on those who just can’t socialize because maybe there is another job to go to or a sick kid at home waiting for mommy.
I’m not unsociable, but I’m really not into hanging out after work for a drink with colleagues. Don’t get me wrong. I happily attend department luncheons and celebrations for special occasions. I just have this thing about extending my workday to spend more time with the same people I just spent the last eight hours with.
Someone I work with disagrees with me and says the workplace should be ‘just like family’. Believe me. No one I work with could ever be mistaken for a member of my family. In my family, we allow each other the freedom to make choices about what we can and cannot do.
Still, the longer I work, the more I see workplace changes that really are age driven. Younger workers seem to not mind that their work life and personal life melt into one and the same thing. There was a time many years ago that I felt the same way. Going from work to the bar for a drink and a bite to eat was a lot of fun, especially when the only thing in life you were responsible for was yourself.
But having kids, dogs, health issues and aging parents changes a lot of things, like the amount of free time one has after working all day. My best hope for satisfaction is that someday these snarky free spirits will walk in my shoes. One day, life will catch up with them and they will have to choose between picking up the kid at daycare and getting together with co-workers for a drink.
So a little advice to the unencumbered is in order here. Get over yourself and understand you are not being rejected if some of us can’t make it out with you after work. As the years roll on, life styles will change and, except for possibly more money, most of us will really wish we had a lot more time. Maybe to actually go out for that drink.
So I’m putting it out there: It’s okay to not ask me to go on a pub crawl after work.
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