Do You Want to Get Lunch: Social Awkwardness and New Jobs

After several long months of job searching (which I recorded in gifs sets here and here), I was able to land a long-term contract position with a big corporation that has several theme parks. Yay for a steady paycheck from corporate overlords!

Jensen Ackles with his arm around Misha Collins and Misha saying, "Confetti, it's a parade.
Just one gif.

The elation of a steady income diminished a bit thanks to my natural awkwardness in unfamiliar social situations. Social awkwardness is really only cute and acceptable on TV and if you look like Zooey Deschanel. Also, my work experience the last three years hasn’t involved the typical office setting. The staff at my school in South Korea left me to my own devices the majority of the time and when I returned to the States, I worked from home. So, my first day, I had to deal with the shock of entering back into corporate environment.

The first week wasn’t too bad; overwhelming with all my new responsibilities, but not too bad on the social front. It’s only when I hit my second week that some of my old insecurities began to pop up. The kind that cause me to sit in my cubicle, breathing like I do in a yoga class and reining in my anxious thoughts and fears that in my second week, I have somehow become THAT girl in the office (you can interpret it however you like.) As anyone who has struggled with anxiety knows, rational thought goes out the window. So, here are a couple of coping mechanism, I’m developing to deal with this so I don’t have a meltdown in the middle of a work day. The caveat is that I am ostensibly not a professional and these may not work for anyone else but me; however, I hope that it will allow others to share their coping strategies.

Your Job Is Not Your Life or Worth

This is an idea that has gained more and more traction lately. Would we all like to work soul-fulfilling jobs that have an impact on the world and make it a better place? Well, duh. Is that what most of us do? No, obviously. Sometimes, it’s just enough to earn a paycheck so you can pay rent and keep the lights on. As a sidenote: I think it’s deplorable that this is the best that many can hope for, but that’s an article for another time. I use my paycheck to live the rest of my life in a good way if I’m lucky.

Not Everyone Will Like You

Having a good relations with co-workers can make a stressful job easier, but sometimes you just don’t click. For whatever reason, the office setting just isn’t your particular cup of tea. I am a notorious people pleaser and really want everyone to like me so this is a hard one for me. When I’m sitting there and wondering if my new co-workers like me, I bring up the faces of my family and friends who DO like me; quite a bit actually. It’s a little more difficult for me since my closest friends are scattered all over the globe, but they are only a Skype call away. As long as someone on my team isn’t deliberately trying to sabotage me, I can handle not being invited to lunch.

Most of Us Have Gone Through Worse

It’s a good reminder to myself that I’ve gone through much bigger adjustments than adapting to an American corporate environment. I moved to the other side of the world by myself and did pretty damn well. Given my natural personality, I wasn’t the most popular person in my ex-pat community, but I think I was generally well-liked and I had an awesome group of friends, which meant more to me than popularity anyway. So, when things get a little messy, I remember that I did something really, really brave in the past and I can do it again.

So what about all of you? How have you adapted to new situations and feeling awkward?

By Stephens

Florida girl, would-be world traveler and semi-permanent expat. Her main strategy of life is to throw out the nets and hope something useful comes back, but many times it's just an old shoe. She also really, really hates winter and people who are consistently late.

2 replies on “Do You Want to Get Lunch: Social Awkwardness and New Jobs”

Firstly: congratulations! Lights on is A Good Thing.

I’m a big fan of ‘fake it til you make it’ in social situations. Ask people how their weekend was, be more sociable than you’d otherwise be… it pays off in invitations to lunch and people getting to know you better, and you don’t have to keep it up forever.

Not Everyone Will Like You is SO important to remember. When you get comfortable at a job it’s easier to let go (at least for me) but brand new in of course you want to amaze everyone.

My tip would be to accept meal invitations, even though they come from people you (at first glance) have nothing in common with. It gets you in the informal side of things.

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