I’ve been trying to network more, because I dislike doing so. Part of it is a dislike of socialization, especially pointless or random socialization, and part of it is a genuine anxiety that I’ll be judged harshly by my peers. Of course, everyone has this problem, but it seems like a worse problem for some than others, or some are just better at pushing past it.
Part of it stems from the fact that I’m not very conventional: I have blue hair, I have an usual name, I curse like a sailor, and I don’t really pull punches. I’m brutally honest nearly all the time (something I’ve had to work on since having a kid), and I often say that life is too short to beat around the bushes. That being said, I’m not going to try to hurt people’s feelings on purpose, but if someone asks me my opinion I’ll be honest, often regardless of the consequences. Freedom self-imposed, if you will.
The problem is, that kind of attitude is all too familiar to many people, and for all the wrong reasons. I suppose at my age I need to accept the fact that if I still can’t change, perhaps there’s something wrong with me, but at the same time I can’t really convince myself that not participating in casual social lies or any of the pandering we do on a daily basis to grease the social wheels is beneficial; in fact I see it as detrimental.
For example, have you ever had a co-worker that you just didn’t get along with? I don’t mean someone who isn’t pulling their weight or is a drain on resources, but someone who is genuinely good at their job and there isn’t any reason you shouldn’t dislike them, but you do? Now, you obviously shouldn’t just walk up to this person and say, “You know what, I have no reason to dislike you but I just don’t. You rub me the wrong way, and I can’t stand to be around you. It isn’t a reflection on you, but rather on me, but I needed to let you know.” (Granted, in certain circumstances that might be okay, but in 99% of them it’s not.) There’s no reason to potentially make them feel bad about something that probably isn’t their fault, and there’s also no reason for you to evaluate further why you feel the way you do (assuming you’ve evaluated it and determined it’s baseless and not reflective of their performance). Or at least that’s what I think, and I haven’t really read any other compelling arguments against that.
Some people are really good at making everyone they meet their friends; I’m not that person. I’m great at making my friends feel special and cared about, but I’m not good at doing that for everyone. That’s not a reflection on them, it’s a reflection on the fact I have no emotive capital left over after my close friendships, and new friendships would have to be as valuable to both of us as my current ones. Is that so bad?