I was going through my afternoon Gmail, rapidly deleting your standard spam, when I came across the subject headline, “Why I regret befriending my coworkers.”
Let it be known that I am a heavy proponent for creating a familial culture in the office and being able to call my coworkers, ‘friends’. (Real friends, not “friends”.) I mean, you spend nearly three-quarters of your week with these people. If you don’t like the environment that surrounds you, how on earth do you possibly go about your day!?
It’s Corporate World 101: there’s a fine line between your professional life and your personal life. …and I’ve been blurring that line since 2012.
So anyway, my attention has been caught, and I honor curiosity. After reading the article, I can say that at the very least, I am able to appreciate ‘the rules of office culture’. There is beauty in being able to leave your work, at work. While you can pack up and bring home the friendships, the gossip, and secrets, the stress and tight deadlines also wipe their feet on the welcome mat.
Sure, I can appreciate staying civil, and not completely blurring professionalism and friendliness. Let me reiterate: I can appreciate. I have yet to fully agree. In my not so humble opinion, I think I’m pretty good at maintaining an intricate social circle. Family, friends – college, high school, middle school, camps, etc. – tennis, gym, friends from camp, friends of friends (of friends)…you get the idea.
As I’m sitting at Sloan Kettering with a coworker friend at her last session of chemotherapy, I can’t help but wonder: how far am I crossing the line this time? An office confidant and seasonal running partner, this hiccup really threw our summer into a tailspin. I can’t tell you how close – or not – we were before this cancerous curveball, but it is without a doubt in my mind that I will call her a friend for the rest of my life.
But what’s the saying? The number of tried and true friends a person will have in their lifetime can be counted on one hand?
(Or is it?)
While friendliness and sociability have its perks, going the extra mile for everyone leads to inevitable burnout. Effort spent, friendships fade, and then what?
So you live. And I’ve learned.
To those who will tell me to stay on my side of the line and keep my personal life to myself: F’ that. But I suppose being a little more selective when it comes to sharing won’t hurt me either.
The question now is: how do you weed out the tried and true? How do you decipher: acquaintances, friends, good friends, and the ones who hold your hand through it all?
All i can say is, life is pretty funny sometimes. It’s always answering even when you’re not asking. And especially in a city like this – thank God I blurred that line.
– – –
Barring family, I’ve had a really hard time learning this lesson. Just because you share personal secrets, and just because you care about someone else’s weekend/ family/ significant other/ what they had for dinner, sharing and caring is not always a two-way street.
To those who are my tried & true – and I think I need two hands – I hope you know that you truly light up my life.
– – – a few words of gratitude,
I’m sitting across the table from an old colleague – one that shares the same alma mater. We share booze and some life aspirations. We can’t stop laughing as we remember the good old days and plan for the future. We don’t get to see each other 75% of the week anymore, or IM throughout the day, but that hand is always out there to hold mine with impeccably unwavering support. This was all you.
There’s no time for hand holding, since ours are covering out mouths trying to shush the incessant, unstoppable giggling.
We exist three thousand miles away … or three miles away… and it matters not even one-third of a speck. Phone calls about no parking, Face Time sessions to check make up, or spending a 1.5 day road trip across 7 states: you name it. You know how little girls run around the playground holding hands? In a nutshell.
I am them, and they are me. Six-month apart identical twins: from one facial birthmark to love for food to an unexplainable level of excitement over the little things. An embodiment of pure optimism and strength – as one hand is not held, but both. Or when you’re the complete opposite but really the same: since hands are not only held through the best and worst of weeks, but my back too.
I’m on my bed and likewise. Whether the beds are housing the same room, the same space, or the same apartment – there is never a more telling sign, than being able to share comfortable silence*. I will never stop learning that daily lesson: my hand doesn’t need holding, but when it does…
*Comfortable silence for an entire day
I call her family, someone who has truly known me at my absolute worst and watches me chase my absolute best. We have called two cities, two states, and several hearts, ‘home’. If one is succeeding, we keep pushing higher – otherwise, we silently share adjacent spots on the sidewalk. Since we’ve met, her hand has never left mine.