Finding Family Everywhere

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. And guys, I just want to say how thankful I am for my workplace.

There’s a concept called Impostor Syndrome, which marks the inability to internalize one’s accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. I feel this a lot. I understand that there are things that I do quite well, but I still feel like I’m somehow faking it as I do those things. Or somehow narrowly escaping people’s notice enough to get by.

It’s bizarre, though, that I sometimes feel Impostor Syndrome with friendship. I often feel that I’m not holding up my end of the bargain in friendships, just by being me. That’s not what they’re really looking for in a friend, I think; they’re just being friendly because they feel awkward and I’m imposing. How can you be a good friend? Am I doing this right? What’s the protocol for scenarios that I encounter on a daily basis? Maybe one day I’ll get it right and my friends will ignore the mess I’m covering up now.

Thanksgiving has always been a time of laughter and peace in my family; it’s a holiday that society allows you to get together with your family and not have to stress out about what gifts you got someone, whether they’ll actually like it or if you have failed at understanding them as a human being and got something completely deviated from their interests. Plus, it has bangin’ food. But mostly the part about family.

But in recent years, I’ve had a lot more Thanksgivings away from my family (that’s what happens when you work at a business that opens its doors to patrons on holidays), and the stress level involved with Turkey Day has risen a little bit. It’s not because I don’t end up seeing friends on the holiday, or that people don’t offer to have me over for their family’s dinner — it’s that fear of people actually wanting me there, and not just spending time with me because they feel bad that I’m by myself.

This year, I hosted a Thanksgiving brunch at my house. I told friends to show up anytime before 2:30 (because then I had to go to work), and it was a nice trickle of friends. Hosting is always one of those things that I find extremely exhilarating, but simultaneously stressful. I love having people over, and I love watching people have fun and enjoy good company because of something I made happen, but the fear of no one showing up is ever-present. It’s almost not worth the effort, knowing that I’ll be silently freaking out about dumb stuff like that, but then, there is that other fear: if I don’t invite them over, then I’ll never see them.

Seriously, guys. Talk about a difference between head and heart: in my head, I know I’m being ludicrous, but my heart still pounds about it.

So, say you were to take a slice out of my Thanksgiving brunch today, and doing so would enable you to see the inner emotions that I, as the host, felt, like layers of a cake: alongside happiness, there is nervous energy — are there enough plates out? Is the food cold? Are my guests actually enjoying themselves, or just pretending?  — with a few layers of self-doubt, laughter, and quiet panic. The good layers do outweigh the bad, but those bad layers are still there.

Now let’s take a slice out of my work shift. There is, of course, a certain amount of stress involved in any given work day, but it’s a very different kind of stress: mostly, it is deadline stress instead of social stress; it is stress about how weird some patrons are, and not stress over how my coworkers feel about me. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with my coworkers over the three years that I’ve worked there, to the point where I can make offhand jokes without worrying about how someone will take it, or tell just by looking at someone that they’re having a bad day, or know that I don’t have to be all smiley in order to coexist with these people. They are wonderful, and I’m so thankful for them. And yes, we have our moments of contention; I may not see eye to eye with someone on a particular subject, but at the end of the day, they are still wonderful.

I wish that life could be exactly like my work environment.

sb10063892c-001There are plenty of groups of people that I consider to be somewhat “family”, but my work family is the closest to real family that I could get. And I feel like most people would wrinkle their noses at such a concept, because maybe they don’t have that same environment at work. I’m pretty lucky in that respect. But these people have seen so much of my life (qualitatively, not quantitatively), and my personality, that there’s nothing else to call them but “family”.

It’s hard to feel Impostor’s Syndrome with family. Maybe I still show my privilege in being able to say that — I know a lot of people who can’t stand their family, let alone feel comfortable around them. But a girl can be thankful of that privilege, right?

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