Since I’ve started working in an office environment roughly three-and-a-half years ago, I’ve noticed that there’s this huge push for happy hours. My old job would do the occasional one, and I wouldn’t go because the thought of spending a couple more hours with the people I had just spent eight hours barely tolerating, seemed like a circle of hell I couldn’t inflict upon myself. Disclaimer: I did work with some lovely people in addition to the awful ones, but after forty hours a week I don’t care who you are, I need a break.
I have had jobs where I couldn’t stand my boss, and so when I was invited to a work happy hour I would find any excuse not to go. A workout class. Dinner. Babysitting an imaginary child. There was no force on this big blue planet that was going to convince me to go spend additional time out of my life (especially unpaid) at a happy hour with people who weren’t even that nice to me. The deal was I give you Monday-Friday, 8-5, and you don’t get to infringe on my personal life in the after-hours.
I might be coming off as a total social troll, so just to clarify, I don’t walk into a job and snap my fingers and announce “I’m not here to make friends!” Some of my best friends have been coworkers.
I now have bosses I really like, and they also organize these work happy hours – but no matter how much I get along with them, I still do not want to go to happy hour. I cringe when I see an email asking me to RSVP to one. I don’t know how to say nicely, “I spend all day here. All the things I want to do, but can’t because I’m here all day, I need to go do those things now.” And I like these people, but I have a limit to how much time I can give something.
I usually do workout right after work. I’m trying to eat better and do less processed foods, which means more time in the kitchen. I don’t want to spend as much money, which means not going out so much. I have two cats who love spend the day turning my house into a disaster (one literally runs up the chimney and then leaves black paw prints on every white surface we have), and so I need to make sure I don’t neglect cleaning for too long. I little routines with friends, like watching an episode of American Horror Story, or grabbing a glass of wine after dinner.
And I also have a novel that I’m revising that I’d like to send out before I’m eighty. I think above everything else, I’m getting more and more protective of my time because whenever I give it up, it means I’m giving up another chance to write.
Basically my issue is that when someone invites me to a happy hour (and this includes friends), it eliminates a lot of my options for that evening. I can’t workout after I’ve grabbed a drink, and I probably won’t have a clear enough head to write. I will have probably eaten food that’s not exactly healthy, and spent money I could have saved. I hate that something that’s supposed to be a fun, casual thing gives me so much anxiety, and I really dislike that it’s becoming more and more of a trend for work gatherings.
I’m not opposed to going out, and I do think that everyone needs a break every now and then. But I don’t like doing it first thing after work. Let me hit the gym, eat and write for an hour and then I’ll come meet you for some Wine Wednesday action.