You might have thought that you left your adolescent days behind once you walked across the stage at your high school graduation. You’re years or decades past that day, after all. But the fact of the matter is we never truly leave high school behind, for better or for worse. Here are the top 10 ways that your office is just like high school, even though you’re supposedly all grown up now.
1. The Rumor Mill is Strong
Chances are, your fellow workers are just as big gossips as your best friends from back when you were a teenager. When it comes to who’s on the manager’s short list for an upcoming promotion or who’s going to be chosen to lead an important client meeting, everyone is gossiping and chatting and whispering all day long. You simply can’t escape the chatter even if you want to.
2. There's Real Drama
Everything was dramatic and life-or-death back when you were walking the halls of your high school. Guess what? Nothing has changed at all when it comes to the level of drama at the company that you work for. When there’s a crisis or problem, you can be sure that everyone from the most junior intern to the boss at the top of the office food chain is absolutely freaking out. The stakes are pretty high at work and no-one wants to be the one making mistakes or costing the company money or getting fired. You’re probably super dramatic when it comes to your position, too, especially if you love your job. Everything that goes right and wrong will mean more to you and be a much bigger deal than if you hated it and weren’t invested at all.
The drama back in your teenage years wasn’t all manufactured or made-up, of course. Teenagers deal with all kinds of real and awful stuff, from heartbreak to their parents’ divorce to getting rejected from their top choice of colleges. And now, you’re older and wiser but you’re not immune from getting upset over getting negative feedback from your boss or being snubbed by the new hire in the lunch room.
3. The Break Room is the Center of the Universe
Your high school lunch room was the most important place in the world. It separated the popular kids from the losers (who weren’t losers at all, of course, just poor kids who were hopelessly misunderstood) and told the school’s social story. Those cafeteria scenes in teen movies, where the jocks all sit together and the band geeks all sit together may be a bit exaggerated but they’re not honestly all that far from the truth. Similarly, your office break room is the most significant place in the whole office. It’s where employees bond, chat, laugh, eat lunch, hold meetings, have presentations, etc. Some things never change.
4. You Watch the Clock
Back in the day, you waited desperately for the clock to strike 3 p.m. so you could go home and eat junk food and watch TV. You’re an adult now but you’re still waiting for the clock to strike five so you can go home… and, well, do the same thing. No matter how much you love your job, you’re usually okay with the work day being over, let’s just all be honest here.
5. There's a Social Hierachy
Even the most professional and formal of office atmospheres have a Queen Bee and a lowly underdog, just like any high school social system. Your boss or manager is most likely at the top, and interns or new hires are at the bottom. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles. You may have wondered why the most popular girl in senior year or the Class President seemed to hold all the cards, but now that you’re older and see how offices operate, you realize that there’s always going to be someone on top and someone way on the bottom. There’s no fighting it.
6. It's a Small, Small World
A high school and an office have one big thing in common: it’s a tiny place. Nothing can be kept secret for long and so you shouldn’t attempt to keep something important to yourself. Just as you didn’t want to tell your friend that the most popular girl was spreading a nasty rumor about her, you might be protecting a coworker from something they did and neglecting to tell your boss. Well guess what? Your friend eventually found out and was pissed that you didn’t let her know what was going on. And your boss today isn’t going to react much differently.
7. Money is Power
In the working world, money is power, or so they say. That’s why your company’s investors or board members seem to hold all of the power, no matter how powerful your boss appears to be. And the powerful kids of your teen years held the power, too. They could convince the entire grade to skip the last day of school before winter break or to pull a prank on the principal or English teacher. Money was still on the table back then, if you think about it: your most popular classmates most likely came from pretty wealthy backgrounds.
8. You Play the Comparison Game
Remember when you were in eleventh grade and you longed for the shiny, long blonde hair and blue eyes and perfect figure of the most popular girl in your grade? You couldn’t help but compare yourself to all of your classmates, for better and worse. Sometimes it made you feel bad about yourself and you wished you could measure up. Other times, you felt better because you got an A plus on a test when someone else only got a B minus. Whether we know it or not, we can’t help but compare ourselves to our peers, and that happens both in high school and office settings. Now, you’re jealous of a coworker who got handed the lead on a new project that you desperately wanted, or you feel superior to the person sitting beside you because you were the one getting praise from your boss. So not much has changed – you’re just getting paid.
9. You Daydream
Many of us find ourselves nodding off during English or History class. But we weren’t sleeping – that would get us into a lot of trouble, and no one wanted after-school detention. We were daydreaming. A common high school past-time is staring out the window and wondering what your future will look like. Will you get into the college of your dreams? Will you land your preferred job? Will you get married and have kids? It’s not much different now – you’re just daydreaming at your desk instead of in a classroom.
10. Sometimes You Just Want to Get Out
If you loved high school, that most likely means that you had a nice group of friends, some interests and after-school activities, and generally had a pretty good time every day. If you hated it, you probably still enjoyed the academic part of it, and got good grades. No matter where you fit on the spectrum, you had those days where you wanted to just graduate already so you could get out. Today, you may love your job, but you still fantasize about just getting up one day, quitting and walking out. Usually when your boss criticizes you or asks you to change something that you really don’t want to change.
You may have thought that you left high school behind when you walked out the door on the final day. After all, you went to college or university and now you’re in the working world. You’re older, wiser and more mature, so how could high school possibly be relevant anymore? These top 10 ways that your office is like high school, prove that we never leave those old days behind.
Do you recognize any of the above signs? Do you feel that you’re in high school again?