Growing up I was not the popular girl in school. I was the shy, quiet, slightly chubby girl who never misbehaved and always handed in her homework in grammar school.
I went to catholic school so I escaped the middle school experience. However, in 6th grade my mom decided it would be a good idea to have me and my brother change schools.
Soooooooooooooo NOT a good idea. I would never recommend changing schools while going through puberty, in addition to be slightly chubby and shy – let’s not even discuss the aftermath of chicken pox scarring.
Sixth grade was the worst school year EVER! I was in a class of under 20 kids, the majority of whom had known each other since kindergarten. Cliques were formed and none was too eager to take on the “new girl.”
Instead I got teased, name called (fat and scarface just to name a few) and excluded from all groups. The icing on the cake was when the “popular” girl (Aida) and her friends hid by snow boots before recess.
I cried the entire school year and begged my mom to keep me home or let me go back to my old school and nothing worked.
By the grace of God, I survived 6th grade and 7th and 8th as well. Things got better each year and I even managed to make a couple of friends before moving on to high school.
My high school was also catholic and VERY tiny (I graduated with 40 kids). Still, cliques formed pretty much from day 1 and remained the same the entire 4 years. Sure new kids came and went and occasionally there were fights within cliques (we are talking high school and girls) but the foundations stayed the same.
St Marys (circa 1986 – 1990) had the Volleyballers, The Jocks, The Jersey City Kids, The Honor Society Kids and the Burn Outs. We each had our own section in the cafeteria and our own area in home room.
There was intermingling among clique members (R’s house parties, nights spend in G’s basement with the black light) but you knew your “friends” and that was it.
When you and your “friends” got into a fight it was always very dramatic with tears and endless phone calls back and forth (R even had 3-way calling). You thought your world was over if you were not invited to sit next to so and so during assembly or excluded from a Saturday afternoon trip to the Garden State Plaza – the horror!!
The “elders” (anyone over the age of 16) always told you things would get better and that adults weren’t petty like teenagers were and you naïvely believed them.
College was somewhat better. Sure you had the Greeks and the Jocks but college kids think they are SO mature and grown up that there were plenty of cliques to belong to, after all you were always trying to “find yourself” and see where you fit in.
You assured yourself that once you graduated and got “real” jobs there would be no more cliques or a “popular crowd” and life would be fine.
Never have I been so wrong for nothing is worse than The Work Place Clique (except maybe the School Mom Clique but that is another blog for another day).
My first “real” job was in an office in Paramus, NJ (5 minutes from 3 major malls). I strutted off the elevator my first day wearing some green and white dress thinking I had arrived. I was introduced to my VERY hot boss (Rich M – oh what ever happened to you??) and to others in the office before being brought over to my tiny, windowless office.
I waited for the people to come over and visit with me and ask me to go to lunch but they never came. Instead I watched little groups of people come and go in the days and weeks that followed. The Smokers, The Creatives, The Married Ones and the Pretty Ones. OMG there are work cliques too?????
Slowly I was able to navigate my way through various offices and work cliques, learning something new at every location.
Always smile at people and say “Hi” or “Hey” (even if you see them in the hall 10x), be friendly to EVERYONE (even the weird guy in data processing b/c if he goes insane one day you want him on your side) and be VERY careful and extremely cautious with those you “trust” (but really, trust no one).
I have been at my current office for 12 years and while it is small and pretty relaxed, it is not always the easiest place to make friends.
Over the years I have had “work” friends, made some “real friends” and learned that nothing beats a candy dish on your desk.
I have grown up a lot in this office and learned (sometimes the hard way) that people are not always who they appear (or pretend) to be. At times, breaking up with a work friend can seem worse than breaking up with a boyfriend because you are forced to see that person everyday from 9-5.
When a co-worker and I ”broke up” several years ago, it was devastating. This was a person I had shared private, personal things with. We had been to each other’s houses, knew each other’s families and ate countless lunches together.
I tried to win the co-worker back, brought her in her favorite candy and visited her desk but nothing worked. It was over and I needed to accept that.
Eventually I moved on, started talking to new people and got over it. In some ways the break up was a godsend, it forced me to take a look at myself and deal with my insecurities and to grow up. In hindsight, I know that the break up was the best thing to happen, however, I wont lie, every once in a while it would sting to see the co-worker and her “new bff” leaving for lunch or a trip to CVS.
Over the past few years, my office had gone through some major changes. Management, layoffs, retirement, and office morale just to name a few.
The office dynamic also changed as have the cliques. I have my own little clique of friends but still try to follow my rules (although sometimes my face will give things/thoughts away). I was feeling pretty confident and happy until Tuesday.
Tuesday started off like it always does – boring. I was revising a document and IM’g my friend N when she told me an email had gone around getting a group together to go to lunch at some Mexican place. N said she wasnt going and started talking about shoes when it hit me WTF, I wasnt invited!!!
OMG how could I have not been invited? I talk to all those people (Magic Mike, IT Guy etc.) and no one thought to include me? Why? What did I do? I am nice!
This is ALL i thought about for the rest of the day. My feelings were really hurt. Instead of brushing it off and acting like a mature, 40yo woman, I was 12 again and crying because my boots were hidden.
I tried to laugh it off, make fun of the lunch group etc. but obviously it still bothers me since I am blogging about it.
Why is it always easier to tell other people that work people don’t matter, just do your job and go home? I guess deep down everyone want to feel likes and accepted.
I have survived much worse than the Qdobo lunch rejection. I know I will be fine, heck I am fine, yet I can’t get over the rejection (maybe it’s pms).
Anyway, I promise this will be my last complaint/whine about it. Maybe next time I see that lunch crew leave I’ll even wish them well (and curse them in my head).