As a young girl, social rejection was my second biggest anxiety trigger and the fear caused unhealthy habits to form. I would alter my personality and views for others to like me without truly noticing. I tried new activities I normally would never do just to find common hobbies with others and although the positive side was that I was trying new things, the negative heavily outweighed this. I started to lose focus on who I was as a person and became extremely unhappy with myself. This early sign was definitely the beginning of some of my mental diagnoses.
Being an adult now, I can confidently say that I do not alter anything of myself for the acceptance of others but I do still face times where I am feeling like I’m not fitting in. Though, sometimes I find myself connecting with others who feel the same way and that helps me know I am not alone, plus, I gain a friend through that discovery. What has been interesting to learn is that a lot of adults share this feeling most commonly in their work environments. It can be hard to remove this thought when you are finding yourself eating lunch alone, stuck at your desk alone and even when those around you are chatting or laughing. The biggest challenge is knowing, when is it an appropriate time to build friendships at work. Work culture is always teaching adults to “keep things professional,” that we find ourselves self-sabotaging opportunities to make friends at work. Here are some things to help ease these issues:
Are these emotions Internal or External?
Sometimes it can be hard to know whether these feelings are being created internally or if there really is a problem in the work environment where your peers are not including you in things. How you can identify the difference is by first asking yourself why you are feeling this way? What is making you feel outcast from everyone else? Is there anything you can do to change it or is it out of your control? Once you know the difference between the two scenarios, you can start building a plan for change.
Slowly work your way out of your comfort zone
Try to go out of your way to spark up conversations with people. Get to know how they are and their personalities to help distinguish what type of ‘work relationship’ you can have with those individuals. Remember, it’s okay to have casual conversations.
Does it matter?
Although we find ourselves wishing we could fit in more than just at work, sometimes we need to ask ourselves the bigger question, “Does it really matter?” If the answer is Yes, then the next question to ask is, why. When we understand what our higher priorities are, we can reduce the frequency of these types of thoughts.
Always make your first impressions the real you. Learn from my mistakes and do not change who you are simply to gain acceptance from others. Not everyone in the world will like certain things about you but that is completely okay. Your purpose is more than finding validation in others.
Adjusting to new atmospheres can be challenging and going out of your way to be an extrovert can add to it. Whether we work in groups or individually, the steps we take to ensure healthy relationships between our coworkers can enhance our productivity, our abilities to reach out when we are stuck and make our work more enjoyable. When we have a healthy enjoyable work environment we find ourselves being more motivated and who doesn’t love to feel productive and motivated? So go out there, make some friends and see what you can achieve with others by your side!