I am living a double life.
To my coworkers, I’m a happy-go-lucky, cheerful and loud girl who is always beaming with positivity and generosity. I’m always in all of the office gatherings. Friday drinking sessions, I’m the first one there! Annual beer fest, I’m there every year for the past 10 years! Christmas parties, I helped organize 4 out of 10 of them! Volunteer events, I’m always the last few to leave the event.
To my bosses, I’m a warm loving girl who grew up in a large family and recently engaged with someone handsome. I’m organized, helpful and according to my last year appraisal, I show leadership qualities and management potential (whatever that means, huh).
The other side of me…
When I’m not at work, you wouldn’t recognize me. It is so bad, some of my colleagues walked right past me on Christmas Day at a local mall without even saying hi to me because it has never crossed their minds that the unkempt woman was me.
I don’t have any friends. I don’t even talk to my neighbours. I doubt they know I exist except for the lights under my door. I lived in a really bad neighbourhood where if you want to live, you better keep a low profile. I don’t want to move away because it suits me.
Nobody asks questions or try to be friendly in my neighbourhood.
My mobile phone is only for people at work to reach me and for me to surf the internet.
My Facebook friends? All from work.
My family? I have none.
My father walked out when my mother was pregnant with me. My mother gave me to my grandma when I was four and never returned. I was given to different foster families when my grandmother passed away at my 9th birthday. I never keep in touch with any of my foster families. Even when I was in school, I learned that if you keep quiet and listen, you learn more and then you make that knowledge work for you.
That’s how I managed to survive through schools and got myself a degree. My first job is with this company and they have kinda become my only family. Nobody even comes close to suspect that I’m living alone in a bad neighbourhood or I had a bad childhood or I have nowhere else to go during the holiday season or that I had invented an imaginary boyfriend so that coworkers can stop hooking me up with their brothers or cousins.
Oh, don’t you pity me.
I choose to be isolated and alone. I quite enjoy the silence, not having to entertain anyone or be sensitive to what I say or do. I don’t even have to shower for days or get off the couch if I don’t want to.
My boss may think I am off to Hawaii for Christmas to visit my family because they migrate there when I am actually at home in my pyjamas, binge-watching Korea drama series.
My teammate thought I’ll be cuddling with my beau in Paris to countdown for the New Year when I am actually drunk at home with store bought wine and a half-eaten pizza. Alone, of course.
My colleagues think that whenever I take time off work, I travel to some exotic locations to “see the world”. The only exotic places I travel is through Netflix in front of my couch.
It helps that I don’t really update my social media with personal photos and I always politely declined to share any of my so-called vacation photos at work. People at work thought I’m protective of my privacy – they just don’t know that I have nothing to show for. I think they are secretly appreciating that I don’t shove travel stories down their throat at work.
I know I will continue living this double life. I don’t know how to merge the two extremes together.
Maybe someday someone at work will call out that I am a fake.
When it comes to that, I’ll just deal with it or move on to another job, I guess.
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