I’m frankly uncomfortable with socializing with coworkers. I am not at all shy, far from it, but I’m a little sketchy on small talk and I like to keep a wall between my professional and private lives. I make no secret that I’m gay and it doesn’t trouble me if a coworker doesn’t like it, I don’t really have anything to hide like a drug habit, but, well, I don’t like knowing a lot about people I work with for the same reason I wouldn’t date a coworker.

One reason is that I don’t drink alcohol, which is no longer so weird in the USA but used to be; here in Vietnam men don’t meet socially without beer and “I don’t drink” is indistinguishable from “I won’t drink with you.” However when I worked in the USA company get-togethers inevitably mean drinking, and I can pass with a bottle of Martinelli’s (there’s a good reason it looks like a wine bottle) but frankly being around people getting sloshed when you don’t drink isn’t a hell of a lot of fun.

The way I want to project myself at work is as the guy who can be counted on. Nothing at work is more satisfying than being handed a task, saying OK, I’m on it, and seeing the boss turn away already thinking about something else. If Chris said it will get done then it will get done and done well and that’s the greatest satisfaction of all, establishing that kind of confidence.

Holding a meeting, projecting myself, that’s not what I want. I used to festoon my office window with pictures, projecting things about myself, my likes and dislikes, pictures of composers and film scenes, and one day I suddenly tore them all down and completely depersonalized my office and felt much, well, cleaner.

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American Software Developer living in Vietnam. Classical musician (guitar, woodwinds), weightlifter, multilingual, misanthrope • XY

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