Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The All Girls School

I work at an all girls school. It's not a school in the traditional's a department in a marketing firm in which 26 out of the 27 employees are females and the one male that works with us is trying as hard as he can to "girl it up" so he can fit in. It's an all girls school, and I'm the weird older student who started school towards the end of the year and who no one knows or bothers to get to know.

Here's the deal...I started working at this company over a month ago, after moving to Milwaukee. It sounded like a great opportunity at the time, and I thought I would have a head start there, since Aaron worked at this company a couple of years back and I had already met quite a few people that work there now through Aaron at various social gatherings.

Turns out that all the people that I had previously met through Aaron actually work at the main building, which is down the road from the building that I work in. Not a big deal, I thought to myself--I would just meet my coworkers at this building and it would work out just fine.

Wrong again. I sensed during my first week that I didn't fit in. The first thing I noticed was that everyone in the department is quite a bit younger than me. The second thing that I noticed was that there are very few wives or mothers in the department. These facts in and of themselves aren't a big deal, but when you add the fact that the department is an iron-clad clique that no one can break into, things become uncomfortable for this new girl.

My suspicions about my social status were soon confirmed. I decided to give things a shot and have lunch with some of the "girls" during my second week at work. The other girls were talking about hitting the clubs with their boyfriends and shopping all weekend long (things I never get to do anymore but really don't miss much anyway). I thought that maybe adding to the conversation by talking about shopping with my daughter the weekend before would be a good way to introduce the girls to my life and maybe pique some interest or forge a common bond. However, the mere mention of having a child halted the conversation in its tracks. I could just about hear the crickets chirping in the background.

And then there's the age factor. From what I have heard, most of the girls I work with are in their early 20's, and I am turning 30 in March. Not too many years separate us, but I happen to believe there is a huge difference between a 23-year-old and a 29-year-old, especially given some of the life experiences I have had over the past several years. In fact, my first day, I was training with a girl who graduated from my alma mater. She asked me what year I graduated, and when I told her, her exact words were, "You're old." I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from saying, "Well, you should lay off the cupcakes."

I've always been a little awkward, socially speaking. Back in high school I was the girl who was involved in everything, but chose to stick with just a couple of close friends or enjoy some solitude rather than hang out with tons of people. In college, I joined a sorority only to drop out a couple of months later because I felt like I didn't fit in. I'm finding that a lot of those feelings that I thought I had left back in my college days are surfacing again.

I guess the difference now is that I've grown into my own skin. I can look at the girls I work with and feel a twinge of rejection, but that's quickly replaced by one simple thought...It doesn't really matter to me. After all, it's just a job, and in the scheme of things, I probably won't forge long-term relationships with these people anyway. Yeah, it would be nice to be close to the people I spend a majority of my day with, but if I'm not, I guess that's ok. I get to come home to the people that really matter to me at the end of the day anyway.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to figure out what I'm going to do when I grow up...


Bert said...

Oh, girl! You are so much deeper and more complex than a 23 year old who goes clubbing and shopping all weekend. You're wise AND beautiful. You're wise-iful. And with hard-earned insight and character. Go you!

angie said...