Most folk that know anything about me know I’m not a big fan of people-ing. I’m not comfortable in groups and, as I’m not keen on being overly fake, my facial expression (read: death stare) usually betrays me when I am.
Because I work in an office, this makes my life a bit challenging at times. These are the things that make office-based introverts die a little inside when they’re working…
The ‘Round Table Introduction’
There are few things I hate more than being asked to pitch up on a training course. I understand why I have to go, but don’t, for a second, let my attendance fool you into thinking I have any desire to be there. I don’t.
I spend most of my time at training courses literally counting down the clock. When I’m not doing that, I’m panicking about being stuck speaking to someone I don’t know and have them ask me questions.
However, the single worst thing about training courses is when the extrovert tutor inevitably does the whole ‘GOOD MORNING! Let’s start by going round the table, introducing ourselves, shall we?? Tell me your name and how long you’ve worked here. I’ll start…!!
FML. This is the moment, while I’m sinking further down in my chair (into the depths of Hell) where I seriously consider giving a false name and wonder if anyone would even notice. The whole situation is like a really bad AA meeting. ‘Hi, I’m Suzanne. I’ve worked here for 3 really long fucking years and, to be perfectly honest, I’d rather be running down the street naked, covered in honey, being chased by a demented Winnie the Pooh than have to tell you this, Sandra. SENSE MY TONE.
I’m sure everyone at these training courses is wonderful, but if I don’t have any actual need to speak them, why force me?? Give me a sticker with my name on it and fuck off.
Luckily, I work in an office where everyone communicates. We discuss things as we go and it’s so refreshing. It hasn’t always been like that, though.
In my previous office, we had ‘communication’ meetings on a Monday morning (what kind of monster organises a meeting on a Monday morning, I ask you?). It was the worst part of the week because introverts HATE group meetings.
I spent these meetings, literally wishing my life away, to save me from the hell of sitting in a circle, pretending to be all buoyed up for the week ahead. Although I said nothing outwardly, inwardly, I was a whole other story. Inwardly, I’m rolling my eyes at every stupid idea and genuinely wondering if I can fake a seizure to get me out of the last 10 minutes. Every. Single. Time.
After one such meeting, at which I’d obviously gotten annoyed enough to pipe up, one of my colleagues (from a different office, who hadn’t been present) mentioned my involvement to me. It had become inter-office chit chat that I had actually spoken aloud at my own team meeting.
Obviously, being made aware that it was a talking point ensured I never spoke again. Nice work, guys.
Office Road Trips
My car is my sanctuary. 99% of the time I’m in a car, I’m in it alone. I am rarely happier than when in my car, singing like a crazy woman and dancing my way to and from work.
Because I enjoy being alone in my car, when I’m forced to travel with others, it’s like double punishment. Not only do I have company, but I also can’t commandeer the choons and burst into my Grammy-nominated version of The Eagles’ classic: ‘Take it Easy‘ (complete with harmonies and guitar noises)’. This makes me very, very sad.
Making small talk from the cramped back seat of a little saloon car, surrounded by colleagues, is not my idea of a good time. It’s not even my idea of a bad time. It’s my idea of torture. This is not because I dislike my colleagues, but simply because hate the situation.
I tend not to say too much, and try to amuse myself on my phone while trying not to make it look like I’m highly uncomfortable. The last time I was in this position, I seriously toyed with putting my headphones in and listening to some true crime to brighten my mood. However, I’m more than aware of how this would have been viewed, so I didn’t.
And so I sat and looked out the window at the passing scenery for 2 straight hours with the expression of someone who’s being transported to Death Row.
I’d like to start this off by saying that phone conversations are preferable to face to face meetings. However, neither would be even better. I see no reason why you can’t gauge my opinion via email. Or Snapchat.
Telekits seem to be popular in my office because we’re so rural. They always start with logging on to an automated system and having to give your name and office location. The system then plugs you into the discussion and an Alexa-type being states, in her robotic voice: ‘Suzanne Tam has joined the meeting’.
Brilliant. Even on the bloody phone, you can’t sneak into a meeting without being noticed.
The chair of the meeting will then say a cheery ‘ Hi Suzanne!’ and I’m left to grit my teeth and mumble something I hope sounds vaguely appropriate. At this point, I mute my phone and pray that no one asks me anything for the next hour while I silently count down the minutes until I can hang up without being reported to my Manager. Again.
These are the things that, on a day to day basis, literally give me the fear. You may think that working in an office is a strange choice for an introvert, and you’d be right. Unfortunately, millions of us do it on a daily basis. This is mainly because sitting at home in your jammies, not communicating with anyone, doesn’t seem to be a sought-after skill for employers. Who knew?
So, here’s to you, fellow introverts. Keep your chin up and remember this: one day you’ll be too old to go to your office. And when this happens, you’ll be able to sit in your house, on your own, silent and content, without anyone saying a damn word about it.
Only then will your suffering truly be over…