When to bring your whole self to work

Yesterday, a colleague and friend of mine came into the office excited about what Spotify had published for #throwbackthursday. It was a solid list of Casey-Casem sourced hits of the mid 80s to mid 90s — Journey, Whitney Houston, Bryan Adams, Christina Aguilera. I know you’re can start hearing “I wanna dance with somebody” in your head; admit it. Well so did I, only it was “oh I, I just died in your arms tonight” and started singing the second verse out loud. It was a very natural reaction for me; karaoke doesn’t require any alcoholic lubricants for me. I just love singing cheesy songs that are emblazoned on my forehead from way too much radio listening as a child.

As I started singing, both this colleague and another looked at me like I was inhabited by aliens. “Wow, I did not expect to hear that coming out of your mouth this morning,” or really ever, she implied. This is not he first time this has happened to me at work.

It got me thinking that I must project some other personality than who I really am when I’m at work and that scares me. I like to think that I’m open and transparent. That it shouldn’t be shocking that I could rattle off a Wham! tune if given the opportunity, but apparently that’s not the case.

But then I wonder, where do you draw the line? My parents always cautioned me to leave my baggage at home, don’t talk about illnesses in the family, don’t talk about marital struggles, or issues with friends, or things your kids are going through. “They” don’t need to know that; just show up and do your job well, make good money and go on living your life.

Somehow that seems incredibly counter-intuitive to who I am.

Why is it that we’re guarded with the people we spend the majority of our waking lives with? I don’t need my colleagues to be my family, but I do need them to be on the same team. If I’m on a sports team and I don’t disclose that I have an injury and go on to play the game at 50% capacity, I’m letting my team down; I’m not being honest with them. And success is predicated on honesty.

I need to think about this in more depth to determine where the line of TMI is. At some point, it yields diminishing returns. But for something that is so core to who I am — my love of music and total disregard for what I sound like singing 80s pop — it seems strange not to share that and the like.