Last Thursday, I was in the office and a coworker asked me if she could interview me on our monthly large team call the next day. Nothing crazy, just some fun “get to know you” stuff. The call is on Skype and sometimes people use the video portion to show their faces. It was requested that I could turn my video on during the interview.
“No problem,” I said.
“Be sure to wear a suit, Rex.” She was joking. It was on a Friday and I’d be working from home.
Wouldn’t it be funny if I actually DID wear a suit? That would get a bunch of laughs. Me, working from home but still in a full suit.
Wait, I’l take it up a notch… I’ll wear my TUX (I bought a tux a few years ago. My brother-in-law works in the garment industry so I got one at cost.)
Oh that’ll be REALLY funny. “Now it’s time to interview Rex. What’s that? He’s in a tux? That’s hilarious!”
So Friday just before the conference call, I put the tux on. The shirt had the studs in the button holes already so it was easy. Shirt, jacket, bow tie… eff it… even the pants, even though they wouldn’t be seen.
So the call started and I was ready to make a big splash. We had a guest speaker first who would be about 20 minutes. I barely heard her because I was so excited for my big reveal. Oh, it was going to get tons of laughs.
Waitaminute… it WAS going to get laughs. On a WORK call. With my TEAM.
What the Hell was I doing? Nobody in their right mind would do this! Was the guest speaker still talking? Yes! She was! Abort the plan! Abort! Abort! This is not a drill!
Away I dashed, gently but quickly taking off my jacket, bow tie then shirt. Where was my plain, long sleeved, gray pullover? There it is! On it went! With ten minutes to spare until it was time for my interview.
My God… am I that desparate for attention that I was willing to permanently taint my image in my coworkers minds? Ok, yes, I’ve said some pretty silly yet tame things in the workplace before, but this would have been plain GOOFY.
Attention is great, but how about just some “hey Rex has got it together” attention.
And I certainly didn’t want people who were in the office tell their neighbors “Hey, look at Rex! He’s working from home… yet wearing a TUX. What a clown.”
I did NOT want to be “that guy.”
As long as I can remember, being funny was who I was. Snappy comebacks, being a wiseass, goofy movements, repeating others’ jokes. It is my identity. Unconscious. I’m good at it. I even did stand up and improv for a while.
But I have to control it, save it for the right time. I’ve gotten into trouble and ruined opportunities because I was so Hell-bent on being funny nothing else mattered.
But at what cost? The cost of me being anything else. What could be there if I don’t have to be funny? What other identity could I have? It’s ok to not be funny. “Not funny” doesn’t mean “serious”… it could just mean focused on whatever I’m doing.