Twenty-Nine years, 10 months, and One Week

into my life and it’s official:

I am not a team player.  Lucky for me I have blonde hair and am easily amused, because I somehow give off the impression that I certainly am “part of the team,” even when I’m seething inside as one person or another argues with which network to store a new working folder to and another person runs down the aisle, arms waving frantically, shouting “Free bagels! Free bagels in the conference room! Hurry!” which is almost but not quite as exciting as Jeans and Donuts Friday.

See, here’s the thing.  I planned on starting the New Year and the New Job off on the Right Foot.  I felt like last year I was somewhat, let’s say, the tiniest bit judgmental.  When I went on trips I came back sort of snarky, and in my day-to-day life I found myself baffled by the actions and motivations of my coworkers. I blogged about this and wrote about this and called my mom and my girlfriends and told Sam about all of this all the while thinking I am a horrible, awful person who deserves to rot in hell because she went to Italy and instead of falling properly in love with her tour guide, like all the other women did, instead assumed it was his desire for a big tip that encouraged him to buy you flowers off the street, as opposed to your beauty.  Who does that?

Well, not the Courtney of 2007.  Courtney of 2007 would SUSPEND HER DISBELIEF and be open to people and places, accepting all with the yoga-like calm she reads about it Yoga Journal.

It lasted nearly a month.  And in my defense, on a day where 50 civilians were killed in Iraq, what did the morning news lead with? Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby horse that had to be put down.  Now, I am all about treating animals ethically, and I appreciate the instinct and ability of animals doing what they are born to do, but the complete earnestness with which Barbaro’s death was covered was appalling.  People who ‘knew” Barbaro talked about his spirit, his ability to triumph over the odds, his connection with those around him…HE WAS A HORSE. There are young men and women from both the U.S. and Iraq dying daily for a war waged on half-truths and full-lies, men and women who will never again have the opportunity to fall in love or see a movie or sleep in late on a Saturday morning or eat a cheesesteak, and our country is sharing a national obsession over a horse? You know, even that I could forgive, even then I could somehow think we all are just misdirecting our horror onto poor Barbaro because we aren’t equipped to examine our own lives, but then the next story is analysis of American Idol contestants.  Now, even though I’ve never watched this show, I think I can say with some expertise that it really isn’t all that important to, say, the possibility of war with Iran.  I just know I’m right about this.

So, with all due respect, I’m stepping back up on my high horse, and freely admitting that while I’ll work until my freelance career takes off, I will never, ever get excited about free food in the conference room or the latest antics conducted by Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, and I won’t bemoan the loss of Applebee’s low-fat lemon whatever cheesecake.

Harumph. I grew distracted from my whole team-player discussion.  So, here, also, is this: I HATE group work and I hate working with anybody else on a project.  I have never liked and it’s safe to say, like brussel sprouts, cream soups and bitter mustard greens, I never will like it. Lord, I remember being in elementary school and my heart dropping into my stomach at the mere mention of group work.  First of all, it meant I had to trust someone else to contribute to the project, which as we all know never, ever works out.  Secondly, I much preferred (and still do prefer) working on my own instead of engaging in endless discussion, which by the time high school rolled around was always about everything but the project at hand, time we could have spent doing the work, and third, well, I don’t like breaking things down and delegating – I find it confusing.  The only good group work with doing is performing a play or an instrument. There was much less group work in college – just enough to irritate me once a semester or so but now here I am, nearly 30, part of a creative team and while I actually enjoy the brainstorming sessions I hate the messy breaking-up of work afterwards, the reliance on other coworkers to do their part, and the fact I have to adhere to other working styles.  I’m sure it’s good for my nature to do it, but still.

So, I am not a team player, and I can finally admit it. As my mom used to say, there may be no I in team but there’s an m and an e and that spells me, and it’s close enough.

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10 Responses to Twenty-Nine years, 10 months, and One Week

  1. yogamum says:

    Amen to all that!!!

    I’m not a team player either. I hated group projects. HATED them. You can join my “not a team player” team.

  2. Cam says:

    I so agree with you. There is a scene in Erin Brokavich where Erin’s boss asks her where all the ‘girls’ are? She replies: “At lunch.”. “Well, why didn’t you go?”, he asks? She answers: “I’m not one of the girls.” That so sums up my work life. I’m in a new job too and have yet to really make friends with anyone there. On one hand it is a little lonely. On the other, I can get a lot done & I’m okay with that. Funny thing is, I do try to at least make some connections with people. But, in the space of one week recently, though, I was told that I was a) too stand-offish, and b) trying to be too chummy and didn’t focus on work and therefore was unprofessional. WTF?

    w/r/t Barbaro. It’s a HORSE! Egads! I thought the same thing. The only other thing on the news that I thought was ridiculous was an announcement that ipod shuffles would now be made in different colors. This is news? What? (Most ridiculous of course is the 23 minutes per new show dedicated to the Colts. The reporter was talking this morning about how she was going to wear heels and a pony tail to be noticed by the players. OMG! Don’t even go there….)

  3. Kerryn says:

    But still, indeed. Team work might be good for character building but that doesn’t mean I had to like it. I tried, I really tried, but working with others just tired me out and caused my stress levels to increase exponentially.

    That’s when I’d take myself out to lunch or for a coffee, with a book (and it didn’t have to be a good book either but anything was better than being around other people…)

  4. Andi says:

    Right ON! I feel the same about everything you said. And group work is a sin and a debaucle from which all students (and adults) should be saved. Unfortunately my department puts pressure on me to inflict it on my students, so I do, but I fele for them the entire time.

  5. Emily says:

    This is why I don’t read the newspaper as often as I should. I always get so angry. Although, I have to admit I was distracted by Barbaro and happy to see Americans caring about SOMEthing other than: who’s Britney Spears dating now?

    I used to feel the same way you do about team work (HATED group work in school), but when it’s done right and when everyone has the same common goals and interests, it can really work (as I’ve learned in my current work place). The worst, though, are hierarchical places, ruled by a monarch and a few dukes who divide and conquer the serfs and then throw around words like “team work” and “high rates of employee satisfaction.”

    P.S. Are you a Pisces (I never know what the cut-off dates for astrological signs are)? That could possibly explain why we’re such soul mates.

  6. Katie says:

    I agree about the horse!

    I felt like groupwork lowered the bar for everyone and if I actually tried to do my best, I would get blank stares and daggers from the group mates. I would rather go solo too.

  7. I think it’s good to know this about yourself, Courtney. And when you can move onto a freelance career, where you have yourself as boss, you’ll be far more content.

    One of the things I started saying about myself at school, and which has carried on into my adult life, is that I am “not a joiner”. I don’t like clubs and societies, and I definitely don’t like big group projects either. I’m so glad I never gave in to my (very brief) temptation to do an MBA, where apparently the emphasis is largely on teamwork, in preparation of course for the workplace. I found in group projects I would either end up doing most of the work (“doing it right”) or pretending it wasn’t happening and watching the quality slide down the drain. I’m not overly proud, but there it is.

  8. Dorothy W. says:

    I’m the same way in jobs that I’ve had — totally judgmental and irritated that I had to rely on other people. I think that’s why I gave up my administrative work and returned to teaching — it’s much more independent. In a classroom, I’m completely in charge. But I do make my students do group work — I hated it myself, but it does seem to work with the students I have (or most of them). I don’t assign long-term group projects, though, and I don’t give group grades.

  9. litlove says:

    The horse thing is NOT good.

    I’m not fond of group work. Well, I think what it really is is that I’m not fond of bosses. I really don’t like being told what to do, or obliged to do things. In fact, I’m just not a good employee at all. Fortunately I know this, and seem to be backing out of the employment sphere with a glint in my eye.

  10. Is it so wrong that I’m happy to see so few team players out there in the world? I actually do think, though, group work is important, especially in elementary and high school – it doesn’t surprise me at all that so many writers and artists out in the blogging community hated it, though –

    Emily – I’m a Taurus, but my best friend is a Pisces – I think this definitely explains some of our soul-matedness!

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