When I start new jobs, one of my perennial concerns is about having to learn to socialize with a whole new group of people. I am what my sister calls a homosapienaphobic - that is a person with an intense fear of people.
At the government, I work on a team with five committees. Each committee, with few exceptions, has an analyst and an assistant, and there are two counsels that split the committees by issue area. Out of all these positions, I am the only boy. There were two other boys not so long ago, but they have gone away via retirement and, most recently, promotion.
This demographic reality significantly affected the co-worker socialization curve. I struggle talking with the girls I know, much less with a pack of unknown ones. Recently, I have started to break the ice with the pack. I have started eating lunch with them in the conference room. Mostly, it was terrifying. For starters, they have no interest in discussing the UA basketball team, or the episode of Seinfeld that was on the night before. They care about pink, chipmunks, design shows and ladybugs.
I realized if I was going to tame the pack, I was going to have to do some recon. I researched subjects, studied film, and prepared memos. And, at last, I was able to wow them all with my surprisingly accurate and detailed knowledge of Jon & Kate Plus Eight and Desperate Housewives. That's right, ladies, I am a dude that knows the various moods and temperments of Cara and Maddy. And I know that Preston Scavo is a terror.
Did I sell out to be accepted by the pack? No doubt about it. At least now I get nods of acknowledgement when I pass a member of the pack in the hallway. Before they all looked at me like I had lupus.