So, I’m currently binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy again from season one and was reminded of the unbreakable bond of the “twisted sisters,” Meredith Grey and Christina Yang. I watched with just a little bit of envy because I miss having a work friend. . . someone who understands my challenges, to laugh through the frustrating parts of work with, just someone to talk to.
Right now, I sit alone in a dingy, old office with wood panel walls, stained tile floors, and no windows. There are 6 floors in this old building and several departments full of employees, most have which worked here longer than I’ve been alive. My job hardly intertwines with anyone in my building, so I don’t have a reason to call or stop by their office as a gateway to make connections. In fact, I have no idea what the rest of the building even looks like outside of my office and the hallway to the bathroom.
I’ve been blessed to develop strong work friendships throughout my career. No doubt those friendships were necessary and important. Some of those friendships were seasonal connecting us by our work, annoying boss, and the need to pass time. We keep up with each other via social media likes and comments. We even occasionally invite each other to parties and special events, but that’s typically the extent of those relationships. However, there are a few people that I’ve been able to create strong friendships without outside of the workplace even after leaving the employers we shared. We support each other, uplift each other, laugh together, and vacation together. I know we don’t go to work to make friends, but it definitely makes it more bearable.
I’ve always struggled with making friends, but thank goodness for my outgoing, charismatic brother. Until high school (because we went to different schools), he was the reason I had any friends at all. But working side by side everyday makes it a lot easier to get to know someone. We spend more time at work than we do with our own families and having fought through depression, it was those work friendships that helped me to stay afloat.
In a previous job, I shared an office with a colleague. Thankfully, our personalities just clicked. We were a great balance for each other. Ying & Yang! I have a calmer demeanor. I usually don’t show too much emotion one way or the other. I’m the rational one. My counterpart was a lot more excited and sometimes frantic. I calmed her down and she hyped me up. Sharing that office, we learned so much from each other. It felt good to work beside someone that motivated, encouraged, and inspired me. And when we experienced difficult times in our personal lives, we leaned on each other. We leaned hard and held each other up. I miss that.
So, let’s talk.
What are your thoughts on work friends and mental health? Do you have work friends that you can trust and rely on? Or do you prefer to work alone?
Listen. Studies have shown that there many positive benefits of work friendships including increased emotional well-being. Having a trustworthy peer who can be a sounding board and provide candid feedback can actually decrease workplace stress. It’s also a bonus to have someone to joke with about that one co-worker that everyone hates. If you have good work friends, don’t take them for granted because they can really make showing up for work a lot easier. Don’t get more wrong, I also know that some people can be a negative influence. But we’re adults; we know who’s good for us. So, choose wisely and appreciate the positive impact that the people sitting at the next desk, cubicle, or office can have on your life.