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Monday, 8 July 2019

'I'm Here To Work To Earn Money - Not Friends'

By Waiching

Workplace friendships are complicated - unless you are part of a 'clique' or you and another colleague share the same or similar culture as each other, making friendships is not as simple and straightforward as it seems. In secondary school, I had a few friends, male and female, but once high school came along, that was when it became an uphill task to undertake. Fitting in, being incredibly shy and the silent type, being Asian and oh, the bullying and teasing made my high school life miserable, and so I never had any friends. Making friends post-secondary school (in the U.S, it's primary school/Junior school level) was a difficult thing for me to do from high school onwards.... and into adulthood, right through to my current job and workplace, it has become something that I thought I might take to heart with. 

I was told by a tutor at college at one time back in the early 2000s when I was in my early twenties that you don't make friends whilst studying, but at work and when you are working... well, almost 20 years on, this turned out to be a lie. This might be the case if you are in a sector such as teaching, working as a teacher or tutor or as an actor working in TV or film in Hollywood, for instance. Working life in during the adult stages of our lives is supposed to be the periods when we, as people and individuals, come out of our shell, and in working with people, allows us to be comfortable in our own skin and around our colleagues by making ourselves approachable, whilst also gaining further skills, boosting our self-confidence & making a contribution to the organisation we work for. 

But for us working people who work in retail, hospitality, it is, not so the case. To this day, I am an introvert (although I make attempts to communicate and converse with my peers), keep my head down and focus on my job. This is because, in retail, office politics and colleagues forming cliques with people of their own culture are seen as a big deal, mainly because it easily gives them someone to identify with ... and if you don't fall in either category or choose not to conform, you are seen as the odd one out. Or that is assumed to be the case. 

I say assumed, because really, whilst it is hugely important for some or a lot of people, me personally, as long as I am civil and help the team or my colleagues achieve what needs to be done, as well as get paid, then that's all that matters. You can be considerate, amicable, cordial, converse and have friendly banter with your coworkers and do your job, without being attached to them by being friends with them, and with difficult and bossy people, one can find or try to find common or middle ground with them, without having to like them. Just because I talk with him/her doesn't automatically imply or insist and I and they are 'friends'. If we were or are friends, we would hang out together or socialise outside of work. But I don't. I can respect them as colleagues, but as people and human beings, well, that is a different story, altogether. 

And there are some who are so content to prattle on and on and even ask intrusive questions about your personal life, such as if you have a boyfriend/husband or if you are married. I feel the workplace is not the appropriate place to discuss such matters as such as for me, this is an invasion of privacy. I don't pry on other colleagues' love lives, and so why should they do this to me?

I am not to everyone's liking, and this has been something that I grew to accept over time, I keep a distance most of the time during my breaks, and there are people whose personalities don't gel with me, and of whom won't change, ever. It goes both ways. 

I spend more time at work and being at work and less time getting together with relatives as the work and social life balance I have is practically zero.... and still, I'm not too bothered about making friends with people. 

I work hard or I try to work hard to earn money and to earn the respect of my peers, remain professional and to get paid. That's it. 

When it gets to a point when it becomes toxic - gossiping, backstabbing, negative drama, that is when I try to steer clear or keep my mouth shut because then, it turns into an argument and it escalates further on that our work becomes unproductive. It just shows that at work, not everything goes to plan and smoothly, because there are always those little incidents that, or people, who try to make it difficult. But isn't that the purpose of work: to seek solutions, to provide and pose challenges for us to undertake and to overcome so that both parties who are involved end up satisfied?
Yes, work is vitally important; working is important, but that is because it pays the bills, puts food on the table and to support ourselves and our loved ones during the present and for the foreseeable future. Trying to build working relations with our colleagues is another, but also it involves forging and maintaining a particular bond throughout the course of your time with them by having that one thing you or I share in common with her/him -, I'm not saying that it isn't feasible and yet also, by looking at it in another way, that is just not possible with every single person who works at the same place as where you are. 

There is probably one, two, or maybe three people at my workplace I'd consider as people I confide in and of whom I don't have any issues with, whatsoever that I could possibly see as friends over the next few years. But other than that, I don't interact with them on social media and outside of work and I don't let it consume me, or I try not to let it consume me because it makes me feel worse. 

There are more important things in life, and making and finding friends during adulthood can be challenging, but that is the least of my priorities & concerns. 

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