Today I’m going to take a brief moment to write an open and anonymous letter to all of my colleagues who keep telling me some version of ‘you know it would be much more fun/better for your career/ if you would just meet up at the bar sometime.’ Because this line of conversation is just a tiny bit too frequent and I always want to say something, but instead I just silently grin and change the subject.
If I did not care about my job, here is what I might say when invited to “Network” at “Happy Hour” yet again.
Thanks again for telling me how much better my professional life would be if I would just hang out at the bar and shoot the breeze after meetings/company-wide conferences. Thanks for pointing out again to my colleagues in a joking manner that “Oh yeah, Indiana, she never drinks, — at least not in public — haha.” Or, ‘Oh yeah, that frustration you are feeling, that’s what wine is for – haven’t you heard?’
You are right. I won’t meet you at the bar. Not interested. It took a long time for me not to be interested in spending time there. Took a long time for me not to want an excuse to go there. But today, I don’t want to go there. I never said much that was intelligent there. I didn’t really relax there. I just got more focused on what I wanted to do most – drink. And I was really good at it. I could drink a fair amount before showing signs that I was under the influence. It was a skill I perfected over the years. But…..it didn’t make me like my job any better. It didn’t ease the frustration. It didn’t help me make friends. It just helped me get better at drinking. Which, in turn, helped me get worse at everything else.
And, I know you think wine and your wine refrigerator/cellar/collection is great for frustration. Good for you. Do you know my youngest cousin has a failed liver and is on his way to dying forever because of alcohol? Do you know one of the best and brightest young men I went to high school with died, homeless outside of his car at 51 with all of his old designer clothes folded neatly in the back, because of alcohol? Do you know I have another cousin who has brain damage because of alcohol? Do you know my grandfather died of liver cancer because of alcohol? Do you know I almost died because of the emotional knots I tied myself into because of alcohol? No, you don’t. Because I’m not going to tell you that. Because I really shouldn’t have to.
I don’t find alcohol a bonding experience. I never really did. It helped ease the pain for a while. Filtered out some of the emotions. But it didn’t help me make friends or make better decisions, or work harder, or smarter.
I’d love to bond outside of work. Want to go for a swim prior to work? What about a walk? Hey, do you know I love to sing? There are public sing-along events. Tri relay? Charity walk? That would be cool. All too weird? What about coffee? Or tea? Or Yoga? Heck, I’ll even do goat yoga. You know I’ve learned to sail. Want to go sailing? Hiking? Kayaking? Paddleboarding? I’ll even try to run, although Indiana doesn’t run very well. But I will do all of those things with you. Just name the time. We can bond if that’s what you really want. But stop telling me that my work life would somehow be better, or I’d somehow seem more friendly/approachable/etc. at work, if I drank with you at the bar.
To be clear, you can go to the bar whenever you want. I don’t care. But I’m not interested. And usually not awake past 9 pm. The action part of my day happens early. In the sunshine. Then I’m ready to hit it hard at work. So, please feel free to go to the bar. But stop telling me its part of my professional development.
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