For close to a decade now people have been telling me how I don’t like fun. In my years at high school being involved in the Tiger Times and the work we did in the cable studio my peers would often remark how I completely avoided participation in most teenage antics and was often responsible for issuing the cease and desist request after prolonged enjoyment. At the time I justified this as needing to get things (aka a daily tv shown done) in a limited amount of time while maintaining some level of respect, but I’ve realized that was probably a very specific manifestation of the same thing that plagues me to this day.
Fast forward a few years to college, where I spent most of my non-academic time (and perhaps a bit of my academic time) working in very professional capacities designing web applications and writing software. I figured that most people in college did stuff like this, and I think a lot of people do, but for me it was never just something on the list of things I do it was really all I did. There were few weekends where I “went out” with friends, or relaxing just watching TV or a movie with others. I didn’t wind down on a Friday night by playing video games or spectating a sporting event, I grab the easiest dinner possible and ssh somewhere to write more code.
I was lucky enough to surround myself with people in college who generally shared a strong work ethic, which meant that writing code on a Friday night might not involve sitting alone in my dorm but instead manning my post in an office with 2-4 others. It was nice knowing that I wasn’t completely unique in this regard, but I found that people have a path whereby they engage in some “fun” activities be it food, communal movies, recreational activities, etc. In some aspects I wasn’t just involved in these work-ish activities, I was these work-ish things. Where some people might frequent work on projects or spend hours on end studying before a big test they almost always unwind at the end or something along those lines; I’m approximately always working on things, there’s no unwind for me. Sometimes this translated into “Brian hates fun” which is really just a misconstrued version of “Brian doesn’t understand fun.”
Moving beyond college was a hard context switch for me even if you disregard the whole across-the-country thing. Most people I work with, even at the fairly progressive company I work for, work a well-defined set of hours where you can expect them to be very dedicated to work related activities. While emails from people late into their localized night are common they’re much more maintenance style email than a substantial unit of work. Very few people do stuff on the weekends, and I think the quantity of email I get between Friday @ 5pm and Sunday @ 4pm is less than I get some nights in the 6-8 hours I’m asleep. But I’m not trying to criticize anyone’s work/life balance her, quite the contrary, that something I’m glad they’ve figured out and are good at.
I’m not good at that, and I don’t think it’s something that I can just figure out. At work they are like here, go on a ski trip. I politely decline, so logically I received an invite to another ski trip assuming I was too busy for the first one. Nope, that’s not the reason why. I enjoy skiing but see little purpose in engaging in it. Last month there was a few nights of work related parties and stuff, while I made an appearance to get an award or two I wasn’t enjoying the free drinks or really hanging out with people. This is how I act at most social scenes approximately ever; though I will fix upholstery from time to time too. On a smaller scale I’ve observed my coworkers like to chat about their lives to each other, talking about who’s doing what on the weekends and such. They’ve learned that it’s not really valuable to engage me in such discussions unless you want to hear about the latest programming adventures of Brian, which they sometimes do but I think most people try and enjoy lunch as the break-from-work time.
Unfortunately the few people in my life sometimes suffer as a result of the lack of fun that surrounds me. When I get together with people we often work on projects (sometimes to their displeasure I feel) and the whole “lets do something fun” conversation never goes well when I’m involved in the planning stages. I’m quite capable of being a participant if I make myself, but I’m not one to seek out, develop, and just-engage in commonly enjoyable experiences. This doesn’t really upset me, I’m fairly content working approximately forever, but it’s particularly challenging to find people out there who share a similar, or even a fragment of a similar approach to things.
Good night moon.