2016 in review, part 1

Apologies for the long absence. We moved and didn’t have internet for over 2 months, and the thought of writing an entire blog post on my phone didn’t really appeal to me all that much.

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This has been a pretty big year for me, and I feel like I’ve grown a lot from it. It wasn’t all positive, but whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

I’m pre-empting the usual WordPress generated post, because I feel like a lot happened this year, and this post will end up being multiple parts.

New Year’s Resolutions

So in my post from last year, I had a couple of resolutions:

1) Dress properly at work. I actually managed this one! It’s the first time I’ve stuck to a resolution. It was a bit of a struggle, especially during the busier periods at work, and I did slack off at the end and give up on stockings (as there were only 2 weeks left of work, and I couldn’t be bothered buying another pair).

Which speaking of, I lost count of how much money I spent on stockings. I kept getting runs in them and having to buy a new pair. Same with my work shoes, which now have a giant hole on them, and again, I didn’t bother replacing them, because it was so close to the end of the year.

It’s difficult to try and work out what the result of my resolution has been. On one hand, I ended up befriending someone quite senior in the organisation, I got offered a promotion (with strings attached), I was asked to act as delivery lead on a project. On the other hand, I have been building up to these things for quite a while, and how much of it can be attributed to a change in attire, and how much of it is just a natural progression of my career?

I didn’t really notice any difference in how I was treated. Even when Mark suggested I try curling my hair and wearing contacts, and nobody even noticed. Or maybe it looked bad and everyone was too polite to say anything, like when I had to get my make-up done for the Spring fashion carnival event, and James gave a gasp of horror, but said nothing.

I’m still undecided whether I’ll continue it next year. On one hand, there’s that whole dress for the job you want thing (although I don’t know that this is the job I want…). On the other hand, my new team is quite casual, and I stand out a bit. Although I have noticed that since I joined, a couple of the other developers are starting to dress up a bit. I don’t know if that’s related to me, or related to another developer who kinda swapped teams with me and has also started dressing up.

2) Write a book. I made absolutely no progress on this. I was actually challenged to write a story, which is currently in the incubation phase, and I’ve been doing some research on it, but I haven’t actually put any words down. Watch this space though, as the resolution I’ve picked for next year will be related to the failed attempt this year.

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So to rewind back to earlier in the year. I have mentioned a few times that I have been miserable in my team for a while. The work itself isn’t bad and the people are nice, but I was beginning to lose the desire to go into work. However, this is the only team I’ve ever been in, and who’s to say it isn’t worse elsewhere? I did actually apply for another role in a different department (financial crime), but didn’t get it. I was at the point where I was ready to apply outside the organisation when I was challenged to a croissant bake-off, and I realised that maybe the onus is on me to make my work enjoyable, not the other way around. I don’t have to love my job, it can be the thing that I do so that I have the resources to do the things I love.

Word got out that I was a baker, and I was asked to participate in a cheesecake bake-off.

This was around the time that our regular Friday drinks event was cancelled for budget reasons, so the team morale was quite low. I suggested we use the cheesecake bake-off to raise money for our own self-funded drinks event – where we’d buy the alcohol ourselves and people would chip in to keep it going, the initial money being used to seed it. We ended up raising quite a bit of money, so I began organising the drinks event. However, Julian asked me something about liquor licenses so I did a bit of research and found that we do need to apply for a liquor license to serve alcohol, and it’s not cheap. So we concocted the idea of having people pay an entry fee for some other event, at which we would just happen to serve alcohol. And thus the Art Appreciation Society was born.

I thought I’d ask the compliance / legal team whether we’d be OK to do this, just to be on the safe side. Funnily enough, nobody seemed to have a definitive answer, and I got shunted around to various risk and legal teams before someone decided to make a call and say that we weren’t allowed to do it on our floor, but we could do it via the catering company as they’re licensed, or go to a bar instead.

Drinks was cancelled, and I became the Grinch who stole Christmas, with various people saying I should have just done it anyway, as nobody would have dobbed me in. Despite the criticism, I feel like I did the right thing. I introduced the pizza trolley instead, with pizza, chips and soft drink, and also a samosa afternoon. I ended up taking a couple of weeks off, and I realised nobody took up the role in my absence. One of the first things I was asked on my return was, “Will there be a pizza trolley this week?” and it made me feel sad. I decided to cut down, and instead of doing a weekly thing where everyone chips in on the day, we would raise money over several weeks and once we had enough money, do a larger event for the whole floor.

Our first event was a cheese and meats platter, which was incredibly successful, and the second event was a high tea, which was also a hit. I’ve been trying to reflect on what effect this has had on people’s perception of me, and it has been interesting.

Someone called me “social”, which I think is bizarre because as soon as the prep work for the events is done, I prefer to vanish rather than mingle with everyone. I think he is confusing “polite” with “social” as people will often strike up conversations with me, but I very rarely strike up a conversation on my own. Mostly because I still feel like I’m wasting people’s time by talking to them.

I’m also seen as the “weird one” as whenever there is something unusual in the office, I often get messages asking if it was me. Granted, about 90% of the time, it is me, so I’m trying to vary it up a bit so that I’m not the instant suspect all the time. I’m not sure how I feel about this reputation that I’ve built. I don’t purposely go out of my way to be unusual, it’s just that some of the things I do just happen to be considered unusual out of context. For instance, when I walked to the train station holding a giant box above my head, it’s because Intern Daniel said he didn’t think I was strong enough to do it, and I had to prove him wrong. But anyone seeing us walk out of the office together wouldn’t have heard that conversation, and would just see me with a box above my head.

The strange behaviour does mean I’ve become somewhat notorious, and I will write about what that might have meant for me tomorrow.

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