Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ostracism of Office Geekery

When I start a new job (or anyone, I imagine), I worry far too much about the first impression I make on new coworkers. This week has been no exception.

Something like clothing style is perfectly acceptable to change on the first day, I think. On Monday, I wore dress pants, dress shoes, and a business-casual sweater (whatever the hell that means), so that I could properly gauge the office dress code. Since then, I've worn skirts every day - my personal style is dressy enough for my new place of employment, thankfully.

But then there's the problem of my geekitude.

It's not so much that I want to hide my geeky, unusual nature from people - the side of me that's a Trekkie and a Star Warsian, who loves apocalyptic sci fi and plays fantasy football. (Poorly this season, but I'm still playing.) All of that stuff is rather bizarre for an office woman to partake of, according to popular thought and general office culture. I know from experience that if I let my nerdiness barf out all over a new office coworker before I can tell what kind of person they are, I'm likely to get strange looks and be, thereafter, avoided like some strange creature what came from the deep.

In other words, it's a waiting game: you show me your cards, and I'll show you mine. ...But not until you show me yours.

Of course, not all of it is fear of ostracism; part of it is just shyness. It usually takes at least three or four months for me to be comfortable in a new job, and then a few months after that is when I start making friends. It can make for a lonely breaking-in period, but it's also more comfortable for me while I adjust to a new environment.

As I write this, I realize that hiding my true personality in a new environment like this is largely necessity. I have to get along with these people, and new places are scary. Best to keep floating for a while and get used to the water, rather than doing the flips off the diving board that come so naturally to me.

But part of this is kind of sad, and a little ridiculous. My coworkers all seem very nice so far; who's to say that if I suddenly spew geek all over, they won't react likewise? In one way, my behavior assumes they're judgmental - and I don't want to be that person.

They already know I'm writing a novel about zombies. If that hasn't made them look at me sideways, nothing will.

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