New Career Phase. New Friend Phase?

After three and a half years, today is my last day in my office. Emotions are mixed.

Mostly, I am excited. More time to focus on this blog, my upcoming book, and other writing projects coming down the pike. I’m eager to try my hand at working for myself, though recently someone told me that anyone who works from home needs two things–a good agent and a good antidepressant. I’m hoping I’ll be able to establish a daily routine that will keep me from living in my pajamas, not showering, and never experiencing the high of human contact. I’m excited to start fresh. Now seems as good a time as any.

But also, I’m a bit bummed. In the friendship realm, I’m losing one of the most important factors: consistency. I am a steadfast believer that above all else, regularity of interaction is the single most important element in building a best friendship. Work attendance took care of that for me when it came to my office BFFs. Now there’s more effort involved, and not that we’re too lazy to do it but… well, there’s always the fear that we are lazier than we think.

Goodbyes are no fun. Coworker goodbyes are especially no fun as they involve some severe awkwardness on my part. Is this a hug situation? Or a handshake? Or the always-uncomfortable so-long-see-ya-later wave? Yikes. And when you’ve worked cubicles away for more than three years, does that make you friends? Or simply coworkers? How heartfelt do these goodbyes have to get?? What is the protocol?!?

Then there is the fear of the future. The one thing about leaving coworkers, usually, is that you are gaining new ones. As an old colleague of mine once told me, “you may be leaving these crazies, but you’ll get a whole new batch of ’em.” Because yes, there will always be crazy coworkers.

Until there aren’t. Like, for example, if you’re working from home.

So, yes, I’m sad about leaving my current wacky work family, but I’m equally nervous about not having a new one. Will I start talking to my houseplant?

I was about to say “where does one meet people??” until I remembered that this is how this whole search got started.  Before there was a proactive friend-dating quest, there was me, in between jobs, complaining to anyone who would listen about how I was going to be working from home and how, then, would I make pals?

In these moments of change, it’s easy for me to forget everything I’ve learned. That one can meet new friends at every turn, that people are excited to hear from potential pals. The good news is there’s one big difference between now and then: Now I have friends. I’ve got a year full of searching under my belt and the companions to prove it.

So the new challenge extended? Re-up the effort to see the friends I already have. Make sure to interact with a few people everyday. Don’t let myself fall into some ‘I have no friends’ funk I worked so hard to dig out of. And undertake serious networking as the next extension of this quest.

Any advice for this new career phase? Any must-heed advice for an official work-from-homer as of, say, 5 pm?

15 Comments

Filed under The Search

15 responses to “New Career Phase. New Friend Phase?

  1. Congratulations and good luck!

    If you ever want to work from Starbucks for a couple hours, give me a call – we can work side-by-side and join the growing cadre of Starbucks office-adopters.🙂 And let me know if you want to join me at any networking events. I’ve found a bunch of them for women in Chicago!

    Enjoy your new flex-time!

  2. Beth

    Good luck today! I have no doubt you’ll figure out a way to be social and still get work done. June might be a weird transition time though…thank goodness it’s finally warm out!

  3. Congrats on this new step!!!

    Get out of your house as much as you can. Yes, I realize you’ll be working there, but when you don’t have to be working, GET OUT. That’s what worked for me when I went from full time teaching to full time parenting. My biggest mistake was staying cooped up those first few weeks and not venturing out. It’s hard to go from having constant adult interaction to none. And, yes to making sure you schedule time with friends.

  4. LizC

    I third the getting out of the house when you can. When I was in grad school a fair amount of my work was solitary. I researched by myself often in little rooms with no one else around. But when I could I would take my laptop and head to the library. Even if I wasn’t talking to other people it was a different setting, it made me take a shower and get dressed, and I at least had the illusion of working around other people. And I didn’t feel obligated to buy multiple coffee drinks like I do when I hang out in a coffee shop for any length of time.

  5. Lorrie Paige

    I’ve been a self-employed work-at-home since 1999. I LOVE IT. I never take it for granted.

    You said you’d have more time to focus on this blog? Good God woman, you blog religiously 5 times a week, usually scheduled at around 6AM(?) like strict military duty. That’s pretty damned focused!🙂 I only blog when I feel really inspired, that urgent need to get it out of my mind and heart, which varies greatly from once a week to several times a week.

    Talking to houseplants is quite fine; according to studies plants love hearing voices, classical music…any sound that’s soothing, so go right on ahead.

    I used to work 6 days a week; only off work on Sundays. I kept wondering can I financially get the entire weekend off, plus all bank holidays. I kept putting it off…But then I said ‘I’m going for it’. I raised my fee (I was charging too less for my services anyway), and took the entire weekend off plus bank holidays. I LOVE IT and can afford it. So very please about that. I say this to say you need adequate time off to spend time doing fun things and for you, going out to find/meet new people for friendships.

    Bring a TV into your office if you don’t have one already. Have your iPod, and any other forms of entertainment to keep you occupied while working.

    Working at home came very natural to me. If you have any other issues about it, you can ask me if you like. I’ve never worked for anyone in the 21st century and just love it! Also, time management is very important; even though you’re at home, you’re still working those hours. Be pretty strict about separating work hours from non-work hours. Pretend that you are outside in a real office, but with some perks like not having to get dressed, pay for lunch outside, etc. This will keep you focused on the job that needs to be done. I do sometimes mult-task and do housework while working but that’s only on slow work days and if my housework gets behind.

    So anyway, good luck!🙂

  6. Cathy

    I’ve been writing professionally from home for nearly 14 years. It’s a good thing that you’re thinking about this before you make the transition! I agree with everyone who suggests getting out regularly (the library is a good suggestion), and taking the time to nurture the friendships you have is a very good idea. In my experience, those things are not enough, though. I think you’re right when you talk about consistency as the foundation for developing friendships. I think the reason for wanting to have friends in the first place is because we all need a sense of belonging. Working for a company provided a consistent sense of belonging for you in the past and the means to see the same people regularly. Now you need to find a substitute, like a professional group, cultural interest organization, worship group–something for which you feel ongoing interest. And for those thinking that this doesn’t apply because they’re introverted and not “joiners,” well, I thought that, but boy, was I wrong! The occasional lunch with friends is just not enough, and over time it’s harder to maintain a consistent schedule for getting together due to family and packed work schedules. Good luck, and remember to have fun!

  7. Congrats on the career shift! That is so exciting for you! No words of advice since I’m still an office gal, but I’m sure you’ll adjust to the change and end up loving it. BTW – love those e-cards.

  8. Jennygirl

    Good luck and congratulations! I have mixed feelings on working from home. I have done in the past, but it can be a double edged sword. My work is pretty independent anyway, but I like having to report somewhere everyday. Makes me get out of the house and see other people. I can all too quickly become a hermit. So since it’s Spring/Summer, I would recommend eating your lunch at a park or something a few days a week. Change of venue, freshen your afternoon.

  9. Good Luck Rachel.! I have no doubt you will find the right balance.

  10. Suzannah

    The hardest part of working at home for me was, I got out of the habit of getting dressed. I am a person who gets a lot of positive energy from trying to look my best. But the years I worked from home, I had the attitude of I am not going to put a full face of make-up on& blow my hair out just to run to the grocery or even meeting s friend for lunch I was much more casual.Yoga pants and ball caps became my uniform, and for me that is not how I feel my best.
    Working out of the home again now, I am really enjoying the being out in the world, returning home after a long day in heels makes the yoga pants so much more comfy!
    But working at home is the best situation possible. I really wish the option was still available to me.

  11. Well, that settles it. I’ll have to come over to work with you. I bring nothing but a laptop, champagne and orange juice.

  12. Pingback: The Hard Facts: The Telecommuter’s LIfe | MWF Seeking BFF

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