Today at my new workplace, my team decided to play a ‘game’ to get to know each other better. Everyone was allowed to ask anyone else in the room a question from a pile of cards given to them. Being the newest addition to the team, I had a couple of questions thrown my way which I did try to answer candidly until this: What are you most afraid of?
I replied instinctively, “Myself.”
I could have said “failure” or “public speaking”, but I had always known that my main stumbling block was Self-Doubt and it resided at the very core of who I am. And immediately after my response, I sensed there was an awkward silence and heard whispers that it was a “deep” answer. So one of them tried to probe for a more tangible fear and I decided to say “cockroach” this time around, knowing that it would be a much more socially acceptable response.
I was being honest with myself in that moment, but the fact that others might not have been so comfortable with my disclosure only made me felt more vulnerable in that moment. I felt Self-Doubt awakened and I regretted my response in that instance. I might have appeared too intense. I should have just said something lame and funny. Everyone would probably prefer a good laugh. It is probably all in my head, but I could not help wondering: Could I be my authentic self here and fit in snuggly even though I might stick out like a sore thumb as the girl who doesn’t drink alcohol, the girl who is health-conscious and doesn’t take much sugar or snacks, the girl with tattoos and a history of drug overdose (which was apparently necessary to declare during my pre-employment medical check up), the girl who is sometimes introverted and enjoys being alone as much as in the company of others, and the girl who is learning to say “no” more out of self-love than resistance?
More importantly, could I accept the girl that I know better now, even if no one else could?
First week in, it is already taking a lot out of me to step out of my shell to assimilate into a dynamic, outgoing work environment as I try to embrace FOMO for my own well-being. But I am also learning that I need to be extra mindful that there is a time and place to lay out vulnerabilities, and the meeting table was definitely not one for that. Not everyone may be keen or receptive to knowing too much or too deeply about a colleague or another person as a matter of fact too, and at least not the kind of details that may evoke certain uncomfortable emotions without a beer. So let’s pace it and take it slow. Let’s take the time to focus on getting to know my work, and do the work that matters most. It is after all just the third day of work and there will be many opportunities to build relationships at the workplace, even if I were to unintentionally miss out or intentionally choose to prioritise self-care (and being with loved ones) over bonding time with colleagues within or outside working hours today any other day.
The real test of self-love begins when you are amongst people you do not really know well (yet).
Stay brave and embrace the challenge!
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