Got questions about life? Love? Parenting? Work? Write to Whit’s End, a new advice column by local husband, father, teacher, coach, former executive and former Marine Corps officer Al Whitaker. Each week Al will address readers’ questions about anything ranging from school issues, coaching problems, relationship quandaries and more! His experience is vast, and he holds a degree in psychology, too. To submit a question, email WhitsEnd@baltimorefishbowl.com.
As a 27 year-old female with a successful, professional career, I generally feel confident in both social and business environments. However, as I now finding myself somewhere between the two, and I’m not sure how to handle the situation.
Recently, I detected a more-than-just-work interest from one of my male colleagues. He is my age and has been at the firm for less than a year versus my three, so I guess he is still relatively new. The reason I mention his time on the job is that so few of my peers, who could give me their read, know much about him outside of work. Whenever we collaborate on a project, he smiles and just sends out positive vibes, all of which gives me that feel-good, tingling sensation. (Maybe I’m blushing, but I’m not sure.)
Since I have no way of knowing what his feelings are toward me, my dilemma is asking him to get together and risking poisoning the well at work or doing nothing and wondering what might have been, perhaps to the point of damaging my focus at work.
Sometimes (but not regularly), a group of younger employees (around our age) will go out after work to happy hour, which could present an opportunity to get to know him better. On one hand, I think that if he were interested, he would have already have gone, but on the other hand, maybe he doesn’t want to seem pushy. So, I guess what I’m wondering is whether I should just let it happen, or as a confident, successful person, take control of my destiny.
First, before we go any further, let me address the issue of controlling one’s destiny. Sportscasters use the phrase ad nauseam without really understanding what it means. For the record, one’s destiny is what will happen no matter what; so, by definition, you cannot control it. We know from Greek mythology, especially, that individuals who try (think of Odysseus, of The Odyssey fame and Oedipus, of Oedipal complex fame) just make the gods mad and make the situation worse.
However, because you are a confident, successful professional, you want to take control and make the situation better. Realize that you can’t take control when other people are involved, but you can improve your odds.
When I say your odds, what I mean is the chance that you will get to know someone whose company you enjoy—wherever that takes you. “Only connect!” as E.M. Forster’s character Margaret Schlegel passionately exclaims in Howards End, an exhortation by the author to make personal relationships paramount. So, try to genuinely get to know him as a friend, first, by asking him to join the group after work; second, by not agonizing over all the pros and cons of a romantic involvement with him; and, finally, by leaving that destiny business to the professionals who can actually do something about it.