On Friendship and Being Yourself

I have always struggled with being open about my nerdy hobbies and interests, especially in my professional life. I felt like people wouldn’t take me seriously if they knew what I really liked to do. I would make small talk with my colleagues, but I never discussed what I really cared about or was really interested in.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I haven’t been close to my coworkers really until this year. If you don’t talk about what you love, the conversation gets boring pretty fast. You also don’t find people who share your interests. This year, I finally opened up to my colleagues and it’s really paid off. I’ve talked about the friendly and accepting teasing from the colleagues in my department, but I’ve also made friends with other faculty in my cohort.

Tonight, we had a gathering of the new faculty at my friend Kate’s house. I remember her telling me a few months back that she was really interested in board games, so I threw a couple of my favorite social deduction games into the car with me. I debated about leaving them in the car and just mentioning them later if the time was right (the coward’s way out) or actually bringing them in. I chose to bring them in and was really glad I did.

Kate, the hostess, greeted me with excitement- both because I was there and because I brought the games. After dinner, Kate turned the engaging conversation into an invitation to play some of the games. I was pleasantly surprised, because it’s usually my role at a party to try and corral people into playing and it can be pretty awkward when everyone politely ignores you.

I brought out my games and taught everyone to play. We played a few rounds of Avalon and of Codenames and they were a big hit! On the way out, everyone thanked me for bringing them and teaching them to play. I drove home with a big smile on my face. I felt so grateful for the friends I had made at work. Friends with whom I didn’t need to hide my interests. Friends who were just as excited as me to play board games.

It can be scary to put yourself out there sometimes, but so far I’ve found it’s more than worth it!

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