Last year, I avoided the multiple annual company lunches that were scheduled for various groups. The lunches weren't as easily avoided as I'd thought they'd be: After not showing up for the first one in 2015, the Chief Exec's secretary rescheduled me and rescheduled me, and I ridiculously had to keep dodging, 3 times in total. I simply did NOT want to go last year. Why? Because I'd heard there was a "going around the table telling what you were working on and suggesting changes" THING --- THING being "perform" rather than actually giving ideas because they were really wanted. School. Judged on sucking up. That type of thing.
This year, I couldn't NOT go, because I didn't go last year. For 2 or 3 days before today's lunch, I actually agonized and re-visited the Excel chart of what I'd worked on all year, trying to memorize my "lunch speech" re all of the projects I'd worked on, what I was in the process of doing right now... Stressful to me. Although I know I can, indeed, "present well" when forced to, I don't like to --- just on principle. To me, that I do my work well is all that should matter.
What ended up happening was: There wasn't some big "explain yourself" speech required around the lunch table. I had to say my name and what I did for the company. Fine.
An hour or so later, the boss asked for "ideas." By that point in the lunch, I felt comfortable enough to mention casually that it would be nice if a recent major book that I'd edited for the company be listed on Amazon (instead of merely being hyped at local book fairs). The fact that I spoke up about this minor idea directly to the boss was a breakthrough for me, personally: A minor idea that wasn't shot down. Wow! (Childhood, childhood --- When I knew I was smart, but wasn't ever allowed to open my mouth at home without being scorned for anything that came out of my mouth. Ugh. I, at 51, still am outraged at my parents for how they constantly, gratuitously, sickly put me down.)
So... minor as it may be to others accustomed to feeling free to express themselves to "authority figures" --- I had never before felt free. And today I was allowed to say a minor opinion without sanction. Thanks, Workplace!
Is it possible that I can, indeed, relax a little and be myself in an "official" setting? I don't have to get tense and combative to protect myself and my "inner feelings"? Wow.