The Professional Outcast

With the festive season upon us, many of us will be heading off to Christmas parties and meals with our co-workers. But how many of us will simply be doing this in the hope of career progression?

Afew years ago I made a decision to stop going to meals or parties that were going to be held in bars or pubs because the surroundings and atmosphere of these kinds of venues just didn’t appeal to me anymore.

Recently at a team away day, which was brilliantly organised and was a great team bonding experience, but resulted in a bit of a letdown once I learned that the evening meal was being held in a pub. So I had a choice; attend the meal and get to know others within the team, as most of us were fairly new to the organisation,or send my apologies and meet some friends for a preferred dining option instead. I chose to meet my friends and pleasantly declined the invitation to the team meal.

Throughout the day I was asked by individual team members why I wasn’t meeting them for food later – the more and more I was asked this question – the more I felt a little guilty and had FOMO (the fear of missing out). Am I an outcast for not going along to the dinner? Do you think that my work colleagues felt that I was being a little rude? A part of me felt that I was,  but maybe I was just over analysing the situation.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well what’s wrong with dining at a pub?”.  Well, nothing if that’s been your way of life.Many of us from different faiths and religions, however, are not accustomed to going to the pub, as this isn’t the norm for us. Now I know that many of you will be wondering whether I have issues with people drinking alcohol in my presence – well no I don’t and I socialise with friends who drink alcohol occasionally. Many others may actually have an issue with this and there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s a personal preference, just like being a vegan,this is a personal choice.  

Somy question is how many of us tag along to networking and team bonding sessions in the mere hopes of career progression, while feeling a little uncomfortable with the location of these events? I know that I have friends who will meet work colleagues for a ‘drink’ after work just so they don’t look like the odd ones out, because, come on guys, no matter how diverse an organisation is, should they be considering the personal preferences of the whole team when organising team outings, or should those like myself stop casting themselves out?

By Jasmine Hussain

Tags: hijabi

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