It’s been a few weeks at my new job. Things are going quite well: I’m making decent money and I have plenty of time to pursue other interests! While it’s the same company I’ve worked for the last year and a half, this new job is quite different. Obviously there are things like a new space to orient yourself to and a new set of norms and expectations, but the new coworkers seem to pose the biggest challenge for me.
The people are great. Their friendliness and understanding has made everything else easy to adjust to. There are a few things that I still haven’t fully grasped (like being fast at the POS), but they don’t pressure me to be perfect. While the new atmosphere is faster and more casual than the previous, the feeling of really being part of a team is not as prominent. The staff is much larger than the one we had, and it’s team-oriented in a different way. People here have less time to help out their coworkers due to the fast-pace and it seems like you’re working with a new crew every day because of how many people work there. Simply put, while I’m getting used to the new place, I’m not quite used to them.
I get along with everyone and I think they like me. I’ve received really good feedback from all of my managers, even after days I felt to be a struggle. I’m trying to learn and work as hard as I can, because I take pride in being a valuable member of a team. I think that is being noticed. The big thing I am having difficulty with is feeling like I belong. It seems like everyone stays and hangs out or grabs a bite to eat after their shift, and they often do it together. They make plans to go out or stay in together, and talk about things they experienced together ages ago. I don’t want to call them exclusive, because like I said, they have all been friendly and welcoming towards me. But I have a hard time when I want to be part of the group. I feel like if people want a new addition, they will ask; I don’t want to intrude. I had an opportunity to hang out with the crew at a staff party last weekend, but some of my old coworkers showed up and I chose to spend time with them instead. I missed them and it was the easier option. I had a fun night, but I can’t help but wonder if I could have forged new social relationships and connections had I chose to stay at the party with my new coworkers.
I have lots of things going for me in social situations: I am friendly, I think I’m pretty funny, and most of the time I am genuinely interested in learning about people’s lives. However, I’m also awkward and have a massive fear of rejection and judgement. Like many people, new situations give me mild social anxiety. I don’t want people to think I’m trying too hard. I am unsure about how people feel towards me, so I don’t test it, just in case. Am I cool or hip enough to sit down for a drink with them? Are they interested enough to hang out some time? When is it not weird to ask for someone’s phone number in a purely social context? Questions I may never have answers to. Well, I mean, except maybe the first one, because I know in theory it shouldn’t matter how cool someone is. Regardless.
I’ve been at this job for three weeks, and while I feel like things are definitely progressing while I’m on-shift, I’m still very nervous about off-duty situations. I will eventually settle in and I won’t feel uncomfortable saying bye to everyone on shift or I won’t hesitate to sit for a drink before running off. Like I said, I’m a likeable person and my coworkers are very nice. There just needs to be a connection established. I know that I likely have to be the one to establish it and this scares me. But a month in to 2017, I have done a few things already that are out of my comfort zone. I have established new normals and set new goals. I won’t say that this year I will conquer my social anxiety, but I just have to keep taking the baby steps forward. Really, staying for a drink is the simplest of solutions. It’s easier than coordinating a plan outside work.
I know that I have good qualities to offer. I know that I am a good friend. I know that I can be fun to be around. I just have to believe in those things and believe that new people may also find them to be true. I’ve maintained a positive outlook in most aspects of my life for most of my life, and I need to remember to stay positive about myself.
Maybe easier said than done, but hey, I’m working on it.
— kisses, Kate.