Group Dynamics, unit 1, chapter 3

This week was turbulent. That’s not a bad thing.

First, jobwise, because that’s easier. It got worse, because I worked for about a week, and felt like I didn’t really accomplish anything. I’m just befuddled by all this coding- I don’t know what the hell to do. I don’t want to ask for help every five minutes, because then I’m not being “independent” (plus my boss is really busy), but I do need the help.

(obvious solution, right? just ask for help! if he’s given me an assignment that I can’t do, I should ask for help. of course my next argument is “it’s not that simple,” right? well, maybe it is, and I’m just not assertive enough. well, what can you do. ask me in a week how my job is, and I’ll probably be all smiles)

Still with me? Good. This is the more interesting part: Meeting a Bunch of New People.

The other interns that I’ve met seem mostly all right. Some of them are from the PSLC (where I work), some of them work elsewhere, and I just happened to meet them because they live in New House along with the people that I work with. As a whole, they seem like pretty normal people, not a bunch of programmers. (this is because most of them actually aren’t programmers.) They seem to be winners, too- not proverbial dumb jocks or preps or any other stereotypical group that doesn’t really exist but kind of does. And there’s a decent male/female ratio, I think. That’s good. So they’ve earned my respect, and as a result, I want to earn theirs. Fair enough.

But how does this work? I don’t remember at all. The last time I met a group of people that I respected from the start who were equally unfamiliar with each other was freshman year, in Henderson House. You know, the Dorm Friends that you meet at the start of college. The last time it had really happened like that before then was the beginning of high school, and I don’t think my voice had changed yet. That doesn’t really count.

Anyway, I was desperate to appear a Cool Dude. Aren’t we all? You want to be the biggest fish in the pond, or risk being scorned and relegated to a lower pond, right? And at a lower level, it may all go back to the instinctual desire to impress the opposite sex.

(before I go on, I’d like to note that I’m talking about status as if it exists. I know, in an ideal world it doesn’t, and everyone’s equal, and everyone is friends with everyone. But come on. Think of four people of higher status than you. Now think of four lower. That didn’t take long, right?)

(oh yeah, and I’m also talking about this all as if I’m a professor. I know that I don’t know any more about people than any of you. If anything I say sounds wrong, or if you have other input, let me know. Thanks!)

Anyway, so it’s freshman year. I want to appear cool. From the first night we sat around the lounge and played the game where you add an adjective to your name (e.g. “Dangerous Dan”) and try to learn everyone’s names, I could tell who would become the “Big Man on Campus” of the house. Well, I picked two, and was half right. This guy, as Alpha Males are everywhere, was smart, athletic, energetic, genuinely interested in about everything, had a couple of areas of expertise, and was pretty good at everything. Oh yeah, and above all else, good looking, because let’s face it, if you’re good looking, you get a whole lot of leeway. (For reference, I’ll call this alpha male “Alf.")

So it went; whenever he suggested a plan, others jumped on board. I was one of them. I developed a bit of a rapport with this guy- I was a little like a right hand man, in that I’d want to do things too, but lacked the natural charisma to be the Alpha Male. I’d usually agree with Alf’s plan, and when two people do something, well, then, everyone does it. And here’s the funny thing: even if I disagreed with him, I’d end up agreeing with him. We played soccer a lot, I think. I don’t even like soccer. (of course Alf was good at soccer.)

As for the instinctual urge to impress the opposite sex, well, I did as well as I could, but clearly didn’t “connect” with anyone in the way that that happens. in movies. Such is life. It should be noted that the Alpha Male can have any girl in the group that he wants.

But then school started and Alf, being an architect, went to studio forever. He slowly dropped out of our lives, leaving a power vacuum, right? As a result, we became sort of amorphous, with no real leader. The whole group would go out to dinner or whatever, and we’d all have to go: a couple instigators who wanted to go on the trip, a couple of friends they’d ask, and a lot of barns.

(“barn” = “barnacle”- it’s someone who just tags along, uninvited, or “barns along.” Unfortunately, you can’t tell a barn he’s not invited, because, given the hive mind of college, it’s assumed that everyone’s invited to everything all the time. Also, barns happen all the time- I don’t want to suggest that they are unique to this power vacuum that happens when an Alpha Male leaves a group)

Anyway, I apparently have a lot more to say than when I started. I think I’ll try to chronicle what exactly happened freshman year, and then how it relates to what’s going on now. I’m seeing the exact same things, and it’s weird and frustrating and fun again. I’ll try to pick this up later.

The point of the whole story, though, is that now I have to balance the new friends with the old friends, when really I’d love to just hang out with my existing friends all summer. It’s so much fun. But you grow by meeting new people, right? It’d be nice to make friends among my summer coworkers. (and let’s not forget the instinctual drive below all of this, eh?)


Brian -

Man, I envy you. I learned last year how much I love meeting new people. Maybe it’s because sometimes I’m the Alpha male. Not the kind you described, but I was in Singapore (I mean, they didn’t know what hippie meant). Anyway, I like the guys at work, but we’re not nearly hang-out-outside-of-work friends yet.

Also, that instinctual part is about 87% of what I think of when I meet new people, even if, as in the present case, it means I have a crush on the one girl. Ugz bugs.

blog 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010