I Feel Like a Puppy Has Followed Me Home. And I Don’t Know What to Do About It.

I’ve mentioned I’m going to be laid off, and soon. I have my good days and bad days, and I’m largely tending toward anxiety and stress lately.  There are things I like and hate about my workplace, some of which are generic office things, but many of which have to do with an overtly Mormon office culture.  I have to edit not just my vocabulary for professional standards, which is fine, but I also have to edit out things in my life that would make my workplace extra uncomfortable and filled with judgement.  If someone asks about a weekend where I had a nice time with family or friends, I edit out the parts that include drinking, etc.

One of the few really nice things about my office is there are a number of nice people, some LDS and some not.  I’m on close terms with a number of people here, but I’ll be honest, I’m really not planning on hanging out outside of work.  Because all they know is my office presentation.  I might loosen up slightly around people I know, like and trust somewhat, but I’m pretty sure that were they to actually know what I think about shit, I’d scare the hell out of them.

Which brings me to the lady who reminds me of a lonely puppy.  She was recently hired on in the building maintenance department. She is nice.  And I treated her like I treat anyone else here: like a nice human being.  Basic chatting with her, keeping everything in the relatively superficial office-speech bubble.

Then something weird and a bit off-putting happened.  She announced that I was really cool and nice and interesting, that I treated her with respect (which was unusual, apparently, and that makes me terribly sad), and that she wants to be my friend.  And not just in the “let’s grab lunch together” sort of office friends way.  She demanded that we exchange contact information, which I did mostly because I didn’t know what else to do.  I still don’t.

Here’s the thing: I’m a busy, stressed and currently am a very grumpy curmudgeon.  I feel stressed and hurried most of the time.  I’m planning on taking advantage of not having a job to finish up my education quickly, while hoping the economy has recovered enough by the time I finish law school that I can find a position.  I am not in a place where I’m looking to spend time with someone I don’t even know when I am currently neglecting family and friends I already have.  (My internet friends don’t count here because it’s easier to juggle with other real life stuff.)

She and I are simply not in the same place in life, and that’s bound to make creating a friendship tricky.  What’s more, unless I’ve read this woman very wrong, she and I are not exactly compatible ideologically.  So I feel like she wants to be friends with a perception of who I am, and not me.

I know she’s deeply lonely and she’s just trying to connect with someone who treats her with respect and dignity.  I don’t want to crush her by rejecting her out of hand, but I feel like I’m being dishonest about what she could expect from me outside of the office.  What happens when she finds out that I reject many things that make her feel happy, safe and comfortable?  What happens when she finds out that I’m actually this angry feminist atheist progressive?  I feel like I need a disclaimer:

Warning: you don’t know me.  You don’t have any idea what I am like.  You met me in a professional office where public personas don’t match reality.  Individual is not responsible for unsatisfied acquaintances.

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