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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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One of the struggles I’ve yet to figure out how to manage is the conflict of work and life in my mind. As much as I can, I’ve always wanted to keep my work like and my social life separate. The idea is that, once I leave work, work is at the office, and now I’m free to enjoy myself without the responsibilities/standards of the workplace. This is not to say that my behavior is orthogonal outside the office, but it’s nice not having to think things through.

Where this gets weird is that there’s a certain expectation that one will be social in work environments, and during work “events.” There’s this expectation that one will go out with their coworkers for dinner, drinks, and all manner of partying, as if the coworkers were their best friends. I just can’t seem to make this leap, and I suppose it holds me back in my career. I like knowing there is a distinction between work and life, and having that distinction brings me some sort of perverse comfort.

Going out and hanging out at somebody else’s work event is even worse. Then it’s work and you’re an outsider.

This isn’t to say that one doesn’t make friends at work that then overlap in a social context. But, rather, I grow exhausted of forced social situations. I’m not a social person naturally, and it’s hard for me to suspend my knowledge of a situation and pretend it is something that it isn’t. Making small talk because it’s the thing you’re supposed to do, and doing it because you’re interested in having a chat with somebody are two entirely different things.

I know this is all part of concept that making work more like life outside work makes one want to do more work, or work more closely with people, and so forth. I just wish it came more naturally for me.

But it’s weird. I’ll go to parties with friends, go to a karaoke bar, or have a nice dinner out, and really enjoy myself, whereas the prospect of doing these things with coworkers just fills me with dread. I work with a lot of good people, but I think in a broken sort of way I do my best to develop a certain amount of detachment in order to keep things separate. I don’t feel like breaking this separation would make either my social life or my work life more pleasant when the overlap is increased.