Unearthing your private life at work

'Jailpaper' by AnatakaKuruma (http://imgur.com/gallery/nt2OBa7)

There are many good reasons why I don’t write much about work.

Sure, there were times at LSE when I found myself intrigued by research connections or the transformation from academic to administrator. But talking about colleagues, except in very exceptional circumstances, is off-limits.

There’s a really good reason for that – you’ve no way of knowing how well you actually know somebody you work with.

I’m trying to take stock after an intense month where my private life suddenly became the topic of everybody else’s gossip. I’ve never really been in that position before.

What made it especially difficult was that I’ve spent years trying to make peace with how far removed I tend to be from ‘normal’, forward, progressive men.

But to people who don’t know my history or have any sense of the years I’ve spent musing here, the base assumption is that I’m really just the same as any old Jack-the-lad.

“But surely you’ve kissed, right?”

And I had to put my foot down, which I hated doing.

We are a fine community at work, and I delight in it. I’ve been invited to houses, met up for coffee, been to shows… A good few of us went to see an excellent gig by Artisan Row, for whom one of my colleagues performs.

I’ve met some of the most amazing people and thoroughly enjoy being part of their lives. Goodness knows how they see me – aside from as reliable a source of filthy humour as they’ve ever met.

But at the end of the day, this site is secret from work, and I’ve spent six months hiding a bout of illness comparable with that which brought an end to my spell abroad in 2009.

Thankfully, to much relief, I’m now on the mend. But because I have occasional struggles in one way or another, I’m very aware that they may do as well. Assumptions are no basis for fact.

We’ve had some wonderful events this year, including the launch of the Shakespeare Metamorphosis Exhibition, where I met our Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr Mary Stiasny; Charter Day, just recently, for staff awards; and the UK Alumni Event at Tower Bridge on Friday, which I was so fortunate to attend.

It’s hard to reconcile the great things that go on with the stresses one must stomach to remain a part of it all. But it’s harder still to reconcile the version of me that people work with and the one that exists outside of work.

View from Tower Bridge (image: University of London International Programmes)

I wish I’d handled it better, or had a better response, or taken it lightly, or shrugged it off. Because in a way, I should be flattered that people see me as a ‘normal bloke’ rather than the freak of nature I sometimes portray myself to be here.

But it’s done now. So the real hope is that we (and I in particular) move on and focus on the good things: the atmosphere, the personalities, the community, and, ultimately, the experiences, which are equally new and thoroughly enlightening.

I need to upgrade my head to Windows 10 so we can find the bloody shut down button again. (I have until the end of the month, apparently!)

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