Working alone

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I work in a small office of 4 people, myself included.

There’s The Fearless Leader, the one who points out the general direction we should be headed and makes decisions. He’s a genuine extrovert but not in the way that makes you want to punch people for being obnoxious, hyper puppies; more of the “likes people, mixes a fantastic drink” type.

Then there’s the Quiet Introvert who primarily puts words to (virtual) paper. If you read something of ours longer than 500 words, she most likely wrote it. She’s the model example of all those trait-lists you see for introverts.  We talk about books and cooking and really dark TV shows.

Thirdly, the Tech Guy breaks the stereotype. I think he’d much rather be out on the lawn building sculptures out of metal and blowtorches; instead he spends a lot of time updating the WordPress code because that’s what we need done. He’s a genuine extrovert as well, though he keeps it pretty buttoned down at work. Of the four of us, he’s the one I’d most likely expect to walk up to a total stranger and do something ridiculous as a social experiment…. but he mostly confines his experiments to messing with the blend of coffee we use and seeing if anyone notices.

And then there’s me. I try to keep my volume level down to a reasonable work level, though I’ve been told you can hear me laughing all the way down the hall. Of course. I’m a conflagration of polar opposites, someone who’s intensely passionate about us getting work done but desperately wishing we could lock the door on Friday afternoon to just watch a movie and call it a day.  I’m driven by an obscure insistence that we do our work well or stop trying, except when I feel like it’s a waste of time, and then I’m all about just getting it done and moving on. Yeah, I can’t explain it either.

It’s June, so we’ve entered vacation season. As the new kid on the block, I have fewer personal days than everyone else, so I am parceling out my few remaining hours by this point in the year (everything re-ups on July 1).

I’ve got Fridays off in June, at least.  Whee.
(insert longing gaze toward the beach and mountains here)
This is when I most miss being a teacher.

Else I’ll be at the office plugging away on “projects” for the rest of the month, by myself. Hopefully my coworkers will be sipping fruity drinks on a beach somewhere or hiking or reading a book or just staring out the window of a coffee shop, far away from the office. I wish them well.

I’m looking at a lot of alone-time over the next few weeks.

Despite craving large chunks of time to myself (I chalk it up to being raised like an “only”) and getting a whole lot more done when I’m not interrupted, I don’t look forward to the isolation.

Truth is, I really would rather work with people, or at least near them.

I read an article recently about getting girls interested in STEM fields which noted that many girls turn away from STEM careers because they see jobs like coding as solitary and isolating. I totally get that! I do.

I hate working by myself. Even if I’m the only one doing a particular task, I want to feel the radiating warmth of other human beings in my work space. If we have to climb a mountain together or eat an elephant one bite at a time, I want to be in a group tackling that challenge together.

I wasn’t built to be a solitary explorer. Call me when you’ve discovered the challenges that need to be conquered and I’ll come with the team to overcome them.

My communications team works in a peaceful big room at the end of a hallway, a kind of barn-shaped former storage closet. It’s open and appropriately dim for a collective of creatives. I don’t know of many other places on campus like it; certainly no other staff offices are set up this way.

The open-work environment grates on our introvert. I think she’d be happy to build walls around her desk and be done with us on many days.  Our Fearless Leader has a small enclosed office…. because #LeadershipHasPrivileges. The Tech Guy has suggested that we all just work at a big central table to promote better communication among the four of us. Nobody has actually gotten around to rearranging furniture, but I think he might be onto something there … it’s surprisingly difficult to keep four people all aware of the same information, especially when no one wants to use the same tools. *wry grin*

Sometimes one of the guys will comment that we should take over the other end of the hall so everybody could have their own office.  Meh. Chopped up isolation chambers.

As much as people can wear me out – and they often do – I wasn’t built for the solitary life. If I ever have to earn my day’s bread by freelancing, I’m setting up at a cowork space to prevent the inevitable descent into insanity.

Meanwhile, this July, if you find yourself in my neck of the woods on a workday, I’d be just fine with you stopping by my office to make sure I haven’t given up hope in the midst of my solitary confinement … in all that empty space … working alone.


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