Choosing the path less travelled

That’s something about myself that I genuinely like…I don’t give up easily. I am a resilient f**ker, me. I will keep moving forward even when it hurts like a bastard.

So, I’m going to work every single day and I’m doing my best on invoices that read like Japanese to me. I don’t understand Japanese. I understand what I’m doing in my job even less. Haha.

But I still turn up every day. I try my very best and I work hard every minute of that 7.5 hours. I feel resentful sometimes when I see the other 2 temps chatting with the managers, laughing – having fun, fitting in…and I keep typing. I keep my head down. I keep moving forward.

I think that making a 180 degree turn on this job and being someone low key instead of the bubbly, friendly person I am is both harder and easier than I thought it would be. It’s like I’ve been split down the middle and I watch both sides of myself – with interest – as the noisy, bubbly part of myself takes a step back into the shadows while the quiet, reserved, careful me takes charge at my new job.

Do you know I’ve been at the Police Department for 3 weeks now? And I haven’t made ONE single friend? I have NEVER done that in my whole life. I can’t seem to help myself usually – reaching out to people, making connections, doing my best – usually as fast as I can – to make my work place feel comfortable and friendly.

This time…I don’t know if I can’t or just wont…but I haven’t made a friend…and going into this invoicing job day after day, week after long week – without someone to ‘hang out’ with and you know what?…It feels really weirdand yet gives me a wall of protection I’ve never had before. No one bothers me. No one talks to me. No one asks “Janet, can I have a quick word?” and my anxiety stays at a pretty level 7/10 throughout the day…it doesn’t go up when ‘office politics’ comes up because I have nothing to do with it and no connections to anyone…but in many ways, it doesn’t go down, either.

I miss being able to message Sam and Michelle at work on TEAMS and just talk about the work day as we were in it. I miss messaging Aurelie on SKYPE and asking “coffee?” and she’d reply instantly “of course 🙂 haha 🙂 See you in the kitchen in 5 minutes?” and we’d meet, complain, laugh, cry, talk – be there for each other and put the world to rights…all in the space of a few minutes. I miss having 30-minute “Handover” with Monique while we changed from morning reception (my shift) to afternoon reception (her shift) or vice-versa. Monique would beam across at me “What do you know?” and we’d gossip, giggle and laugh. I miss that Siti was such a caring Manager and that even though she, Courtney, Kim and I only made a small team of 4, we would eat lunch together every Friday and laugh and talk about our plans for the weekend. I loved that commeraderie. I miss it.

I miss my last job before Dad died when I worked with an office full of caring, bubbly, amazing, incredibly strong and charismatic women. I loved that Tuende gave me a tight, lasting, warm hug every morning. I miss that Sophie would message me on teams with a loveheart whenever she saw me try to hide my tears and my grief. I miss that Paris would put a gentle hand on my shoulder and ask quietly “you ok?”. I miss how protective the girls were over me and that I felt so safe and secure in their protective bubble – even though that was in an office.

Going to work with Sophie and Paris somehow felt like a homecoming. I loved that office because they put so much care and warmth into it.

I miss that. I miss the girls.

I miss having someone to talk to at work.

In every job I’ve had, I’ve made a handful of friends that have stayed in my life for always.

But now? I’m LONELY in this new job, guys.

I never thought I’d have to admit to that.

I don’t miss the anxiety of office gossip, not wanting to hear it but hearing anyway everyone’s opinion of each other – usually negative and really judgemental…and somehow getting caught up in it. Usually wanting to defend whoever is under attack. I don’t miss having my anxiety and worry rise dramatically when a Manager stops by my desk and asks “Janet, can I have a word?“, knowing I’ll get bollocked for a cheeky email I sent or a joke I told that was hilarious but probably highly inappropriate in the kitchen earlier that morning.

I know with certainty that I JUST WORK. Every day I just work. I WORK HARD. I don’t do or say anything that could possibly get me into trouble, so if a manager stops by my desk and asks (which they haven’t) “Can I have a word?”, I don’t have to run 1000 senarios through my head of “What have I done/said that could get me into trouble this time?”. I don’t have to worry because I know for sure I’ve done nothing wrong. I don’t have to worry I’ll get fired at any minute for random reasons that will hurt me for months afterwards. If I get fired from this job, I’ll pack up my desk in the sturdy shopping bag I have in my drawer – ready – just in case, and I’ll go. It won’t surprise me and unlike all the other jobs before this one – it won’t hurt me. There will be no goodbyes to anyone because I haven’t let anyone in. No shame because I don’t value anyone’s opinion in that office. I might even treat myself to pancakes on the way home. You never know.

I’m learning – for the first time ever in my life – that loneliness has a strange power of it’s own. A wall of protection.

I’ve never experienced this before and yet somehow I’ve chosen this path for myself in this job.

My own lonely path…Photo by Tobi

I wonder why?

There are so many opportunities I would usually hold onto – a girl in the kitchen the same time as me who always beams a happy smile behind her mask “hello” and I nod and smile back “Hi” but I don’t reach out. I don’t stay to chat. I don’t build that connection that I normally would “hey, I’m Janet” “I like your headscarf, it’s so pretty”… I just rinse my cup and I leave.

My Manager is a young girl (that grates my nerves but we won’t dwell on that) and she commented on wanting a more friendly atmosphere on the claims team where I work – and the old, friendly me would have started “Friday club” by bringing in cakes, muffins, and healthy options (carrot sticks, gluten free crackers etc) for anyone wanting to count calories and I’d draw the group together. I’d easily find commonalities in all of us and have us laughing in minutes. I’d have us all agreeing to take a few minutes every Friday to “connect” with each other. It would be wonderful. It might even be a legacy that continues long after I’m gone? Who knows?

But I don’t. I’ve left Cherie’s comment alone. I didn’t even respond to it. I don’t think she noticed. She and the other temp who is closer to her age seemed lost in a world of their own, anyway. I let their conversation drift over me and tried to ignore the ache in my heart from being left out. Verbally pushed aside. It didn’t matter in that moment what I had to say – so I let it go. Where I normally raise my voice so I’m heard, tell a joke, reach a person emotionally so I can forge a connection, I just kept quiet and looked at the trees around us.

And I didn’t bring in cupcakes that Friday. I didn’t start “Friday club”. I had lunch on Friday across the street with a beloved friend instead.

I chose something different.

I picked a new path. One less walked on.

The path of loneliness. I chose it on purpose.

I have a lot of friends from my life that work really close to my new building so I’ll invest in the friendships I already have. I will focus on the amazing people God’s already blessed me with – I don’t need new friends.

I can’t believe I’m saying this! Who am I?

Hopefully someone wiser.

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