Fitting in at work is a “work in progress” at my job. I’ve not been there a year yet, and I’m not trying to rush the process, but I had a little glimmer of happiness in this area the other day and couldn’t wait to share it with you.
Since my anxiety has always made fitting in with people a struggle, this is something I will be working on as I continue to get better.
Earlier this week I had to sit in on a full day lecture and then take an exam with a bunch of other nurses at my hospital. Where I work is pretty small and a lot of the people who work there are “lifers” meaning they have worked there for 20 thousand years.
So they all seem to know each other pretty well, they knew each other since they just graduated, their kids grew up together, they’ve been through marriages and divorces together, they go on vacations together… I hear these kinds of stories all around me all the time. Honestly its a really nice, homey, caring place to work.
But from an anxious outsider perspective, it’s a tough nut to crack. I always feel like an outsider anyways, and being around this kind of group dynamic makes me feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. Or even worse, like I’m invisible.
So back to the class. I am an antsy lecture person, having to sit still for hours is not somethign I bear well in general. My history of severe panic attacks in high school and college all come rushing back to the forefront of my memory, even though I haven’t had this stress in my life for years.
But because I know this is an anxiety trigger, I had to prepare myself beforehand. I was really happy to have my wonderful Pure Calm to take before I left the house (better than taking a Xanax any day). I also listened to my Anxiety Road Map audios, and felt great as I left the house.
I never had a panic attack, and I wasn’t out of my mind with anxiety, and I am ever so grateful for that.
But what did bother me was this group of about 15 people all gathered around the conference table and taking in the dialogue in between the lectures.
This one just coming back to work after an injury- how is she feeling? That one who just had her first grandson- how big was the baby, what did they name him, can we see a picture? That one worked yesterday and worked with the other one, yadda, yadda, yadda.
They all had these loose connections and it was an easy back and forth that I just wasn’t a part of at all. Now mind you, I knew about 3 of the nurses sitting there because I have worked for them and with them, but beyond that we have no history together. So we had nothing to say to each other.
My meek attempt to make a connection talking to the gal sitting directly across from me went over like a lead balloon:
Jill: Linda is the unit busy today?
Linda: I don’t know.
Um…ok… yeah…Nothing else to say. Nothing.. Not one word.
So I just sat there with a fake pleasant look on my face as everyone bantered back and forth, but I felt invisible. And I felt really sad and lonely inside. I felt like I wanted to cry… (I’m such a big baby!)
When the class was over, I high tailed it out of there and immediately went home.
Since that was a mandatory class, I wasn’t scheduled to go into my unit to work that day. So imagine my surprise a few hours later when one of the girls form my unit called me at home.
Phone rings. I see the caller ID, Great now what? I think.
Grace: So Jill did you take the ACLS class today?
Grace: Well how was it? And why didn’t you come down and visit us after you were done??
I still feel like crying as I’m typing this. Thank you Lord, I’m actually staring to fit in at work!
Whoever coined the phrase “Fitting in is overrated” was definitely not an anxious person. I am sick of feeling like I’m always on the outside looking in.
Does your anxiety ever make fitting in difficult for you? Please share, I know I can’t be the only one who feels like this.
I wish you peace,