Going to a work place party

Last Friday I attended an event organised and funded by the trustees of the charity I work for. The event was a 2 course dinner followed by a prize raffle and disco. The dress code was ‘dress to impress’.

Before the event I was really looking forward to it, as it would be my first staff social. I was looking forward to meeting new people and getting to know others better. I thought it would be interesting to see people away from the work environment, to see if they acted differently when socialising than at work.

However as the event got closer and closer, I got more and more anxious. I started to worry that I would feel left out, and that nobody would want to talk to me. I worried about how difficult it would be to talk to people and understand what they were saying because of my auditory processing difficulties (APD) which is likely to be connected to the fact I have aniridia. I was also anxious about how I would get home, I was not keen on the idea of getting a taxi on my own after midnight!

The night before I got very worked up, all the anxieties came to the surface. Another of my main concerns was what I was going to wear – I’d heard rumours that people were going to wear ball gowns, and was not sure if this was serious or not. Believe it or not, I only own 3 dresses, oh and 1 skirt! So my choice of clothes was fairly limited. I settled on wearing a black dress with a gold cardigan and gold shoes, and a gold bag. My jewellery was bronze, brown and orangey in colour, which all went nicely with my reddish/brown hair. Once I knew what I was going to wear, I felt a little bit more settled. My dad helped me find some numbers of taxi firms who had women drivers, which was kind of him and again that made me a little less anxious.

My sister kindly dropped me off at the venue and walked in with me, so I didn’t have to worry about where to go.

Once inside I recognised a woman who works in reception, and started chatting to her. She guided me and helped me to find a drink of champagne as we walked around the room together saying hello to people. I thought it was very kind of her to let me hang around with her. It certainly made me feel at ease, knowing that I was with someone I knew and wasn’t just standing around feeling stupid and awkward.

Next I met my friend Dawn who helped me put my ticket in a box ready for the draw later.

It was very very crowded and noisy, there were so many people. I think I heard someone say that there were 200 of us! It was strange because I didn’t realise just how many people worked at the school and college, it doesn’t occur to you when you work in a very small department.I was on table 11 with my colleague Stuart and his finance and the rest of the people on our table were from the mobility department. While we ate our food, I chatted to some of the women from the mobility team. It was okay to hear the person on my left, but I couldn’t hear the person to her left very clearly when they spoke. I think it was at this point that I noticed my APD difficulties most, I often had to keep asking people to repeat what they had said. It’s hard to explain, I had heard them, heard what they said, but couldn’t put it in order so had to ask them to repeat themselves.

I amused one of the mobility women by telling her that with alcohol my nystagmus slows down, I don’t usually notice it but I do tend to realise when it slows down. The lady was so impressed she told everyone on the table what I’d said!

One amusing thing that happened during the meal, was when a woman came over to our table and draped herself on my shoulders and told me we’d met a few times at work and asked if I was having a good evening. I think she was a little bit intoxicated! As my close friends know I really hate being touched by people, so really didn’t enjoy the experience and just wanted to get rid of her because she made me feel very unsettled! After she’d finally left, the woman sitting next to me asked who she was, I said “I have absolutely no idea!” No one else seemed to know her either and she didn’t hug anyone else on our table just me! Very odd!

After the meal we had tea and coffee and mints and then there was the raffle. I didn’t win anything though. I’m not sure what the prizes were but I think it was either wine or champagne of some sort.

After the raffle was done, it was time for the disco. I stayed on my table and chatted to Stuart, and then a support worker I know came over to say ‘hi’ and introduced me to her husband. She ended up staying with me for the rest of the evening and it was really lovely to get to know her better. Another support worker came over and tried to get me to drink more! I don’t mind drinking a bit, but I don’t like feeling totally out of control so try not to drink too much. I didn’t dance much, but I did dance to a couple of songs, a Greece song and ‘Summer of 69’ by Brian Adams, and had great fun.

Just before midnight one of the mobility team came over to tell me she’d organised me a lift home. I was really pleased and very thankful to her.

Overall it was a really fun event and I thoroughly enjoyed myself all evening. I found I wasn’t wishing the time away like I’d worried I would be.

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