The Fierce, Frank & Free

I can’t take it anymore. I’ve only been back at work for a week, and already I can feel it eating away at me, sucking back out the bits of my soul I’d just finished piecing together. It brings back to mind the question, why the hell am I here? But then just as quickly, follows with the reminder of exactly why and how I am in fact going to get myself out of here.

The first day or two back were full of deceptive bliss, as I floated on a cloud of surprisingly smooth expectations and easy conversations. But the (second) honeymoon period is over now, and taking its place is a resurgence of that familiar old feeling of emptiness and frustration.

There’s nothing genuine about this environment. Oh sure, they all think they are being genuine. And perhaps for most of them, this is about as genuine as they could ever be. That’s why they fit this environment so well. It suits them. But it doesn’t suit me. I require more in my interactions with others.

I’d pass one of them in the hallway, and being so excited to see me after two months, they’d say enthusiastically, “Hey there! How are you?”

And as if programmed with the appropriate office response, I would react instinctively with: “Oh good, thanks. How are you?”

To which they’d reply with a polite and upbeat: “Good. Thanks!”

It’s all so one-dimensional. In the world outside of corporate America – that world I now prefer, filled with artists and burners and dreamers – this kind of conversation would never happen. In that world, such a greeting would go something more like this:

“Oh hi! So good to see you, love! It’s been so long. How have you been doing?”

To which I would more openly reply: “It is really great to see you too! Well I’d say I’m doing well, but it’s been a rough journey. Though I’m finally getting to a place where I’m living the life I really want. And you? Tell me how you have been?”

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But that’s not here. Here I have to hold that part of me back, and hide it away as if ashamed of its heartfelt and honest ways. Here, you can’t be real. You can’t say things as they are, or how you feel them truly in your heart. You have to stick to communication that is appropriate, and words that are legally risk-free. Even the ‘watercooler’ talk is coated with politically correct and carefully chosen phrasing.

There is one colleague here who I do think understands where I’m coming from. She always seemed to look deeper into me when we talked, and gave such a vibe of unassuming compassion. And it struck me as odd in the past, before I learned to appreciate that energy. I see now how unique and valuable she is, and how she might be the only truly genuine person in my office. And yet, would you be surprised to here that she’s not viewed as being that competent or easy to work with? There have actually been numerous complaints and negative feedback regarding her ability to collaborate smoothly with teammates. When I learned all of this, being in the position to absorb such juicy team gossip from both teammates and boss, I was so surprised. How could such a warm and caring person be considered a burden to the team?

Well, this was just further proof that I don’t belong here. And frankly, probably neither does that particular colleague. We belong in a world of more genuine generosity of spirit, and open exchange of ideas. We belong in a world without dictated internal PR and claustrophobic office cubicles. We are among the people of this world that thrive on compassion and creativity and community.

I know I won’t have to tread in this intolerant world for much longer. In four short weeks’ time, I know I will be freed forever of this cage and can spread my independent and inspired wings forth. I have a dream that I will then be able to find my place in this world – the world where I am able to speak my mind and pursue my heart; the world in which I do thrive and belong. And I can only hope that that colleague of mine, and any others of this same world, will find their way home someday as well.

Long live the fierce, frank and free!

And if that be ye, won’t you come join me?

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