I like my quiet time. Small talk is incredibly stressful for me. I’m so bad at it that I used to take notes about potential topics to talk about in case I had to chat with someone in the elevator. Otherwise, I’m not much of a spontaneous conversationalist.
I eventually read in some magazine article about workplace etiquette that it’s actually okay to not have conversations in the elevator. A smile, nod, or hello would suffice in most situations.
My dad is sort of the same way. After showing up at family gatherings and saying hello to everyone, he sneaks out and takes a nap in the car. He’s a really nice guy and always means well, but he’s a little awkward when it comes to socializing.
I do try to be more social though. I’ve been to the office parties. I try to mingle.
I’ve even managed to become friends with a coworker working with a different team in the 8th floor.
But that entire team was eventually laid off soon after the corporation was purchased by a private equity firm.
Last I heard from her, she got a divorce, had full custody of Muffin, and met someone at Burning Man.
Oh, and a co-worker invited me to a wedding once. But when we came back to work, I was told to be quiet about it because it turns out, another teammate wasn’t invited.
Well it was “weird” because she knew about it anyway.
I do know what it feels like to be in the position of not being invited. I understand that not everyone can, or has to be included in a gathering, and that’s absolutely fine.
It feels awkward though.
All the mental and social gymnastics of wanting to be accepted can be taxing, regardless of the setting. I understand that we need to connect. I just wish it were easier.
Awkward office interactions aside, I do appreciate the solitude of climbing the stairs to get the topmost floor so early in the morning. It can be meditative when it’s dead quiet in the stairwell, and all I hear are faint echoes, my heart racing, the strained grunts as I attempt the last few steps to the top, before having to put on a much more agreeable face.