It's good for the soul, right?
So - in our office it's a 'tradition' that when it's someone's birthday everyone chips in a pound so a card and a cake and something nice is bought for the birthday boy or girl. It's supposed to be a surprise, but of course, everyone knows it happens, so most people just smile and join in and act surprised and then carve up the the cake for everyone. For the past three years I've managed to avoid this, by not putting my birthday into the team diary. That means no collection, no cake, no card, and more importantly, no mass gathering at my desk expecting me to be nice and welcoming. I still donate to everyone else in the office of course, and sign the card, and join in the gathering... I mean, its the done thing isn't it? Well it was...
...there's this woma... no, not mature enough to be called a woman. A girl in our office who has been annoying me a hell of a lot recently. She is very unprofessional, very loud, and very annoying. I expect a certain amount of noise in a busy help desk environment, but she goes way over the limit. I don't like her. So I was asked yesterday "Are you gonna donate to xxxxxxx's collection, its her birthday tomorrow?" And I said no. I've never not donated before, but I thought it would be hypocritcal for me to wish her a happy birthday when in fact I wish she would leave. And I know, I'm not the most popular in the office... I'm quiet, I keep myself to myself, and I don't get involved in any extra-curricular activites (nights out, lunches etc.), so I know she wouldn't give two shits if I signed her card or not. And you know what? I didn't even feel guilty. I thought I might feel a little pang of "ooh, that's not nice, it is her birthday"... but I really didn't.
And when the presentation of cake and card and God knows what else happened today, I was sat in the kitchen, eating my lunch, reading a very good book (Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" to be precise). And was I missed? No. Did I care? No.
Stand up for what you believe in, don't bow to peer pressure, don't do something just because everyone else does it and because it's 'expected'. Be yourself. Even if you aren't seen as popular.