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So a bit of backstory real quick.

Back in school I was really shy and pretty socially awkward but mostly with people I didn't know really well or wasn't friends with them. Among friends, I was really comfortable. After high school and cutting some toxic people out of my life completely, I have changed a lot. I'm a lot more extroverted in general, I feel really good talking with all sorts of people I don't know and I believe I can handle almost any situation perfectly well, expect breaking in to established groups where I don't know anyone. If I know just one person all is fine, everything come naturally. But when this person is missing , I feel lost and kinda I'm being reminded of myself in the past, which feels kinda horrible.

Fast-forward to today, since 3 months ago more or less, I started working at a university laboratory as a intern and being evaluated for starting a doctorate. The whole situation came out of the blue and I feel really lucky for this chance but I also feel like I don't really deserve it, for no particular reason. In addition while I was "accepted" for my doctorate I can't start this year because of a single class I still haven't finished, in my undergraduate studies. While I still work here , I just haven't officially started my doctorate. All this leads us to a weird position.

From the first day I felt uncomfortable, cause working at an environment like that was really novel to me .And while most people are young (late 20s , I'm the youngest at 22 ) I wasn't sure how to approach them. I talk with everyone but I feel still fell a bit awkward and distant from everyone. While the vast majority seems like cool people, they have all been working together for a while and I feel a lot like an outsider. In addition , I feel like I'm being given a lot of leeway and a lot of second chances especially considering I didn't manage to finish my bachelor on time and have to wait until next year to start officially. Also two other people who started at the same time as me seem to have integrated much better than me.All of this has caused me a lot of anxiety and made me much more timid and shy , like I used to be in the past, at least at work. At other situations I'm still the same outgoing self, and I'm happy about that.

In particular one day when we all went out to eat and I volunteered to drive. While driving I was much more cheerfull and talkative, than when I was at the lab ,which lead to another co worker (f/28) saying something to the lines of ,

"See even Mikailo , is more outgoing during summer " and I replied.

"Yeah , I am much more tense and shy at the lab than my usual self" to which she said.

"Yeah, It's just you seem very antisocial and you don't look like you enjoy talking to people." , which took me by surprise and felt it was really harsh and unwarranted especially considering the tone. I realize I haven't given the warmest of intention but I felt this went too far and it really made me feel horrible.

At the same time we picked another coworker I met for the first time, friend of hers, who even before leaving the parking area was whispering to her comments about my driving , considering I've heard nothing but praise for my driving , I hardly think it was that bad , it warranted rude criticism , even before leaving the parking area.

Besides the event itself, all this situation made me wonder , if this is how they all see me, and the situation is that bad.

What I really want to ask, are my feelings of "isolation" at work normal and will they go away with time or is my current predicament my "fault" and I should look at fixing my behavior. Also how should I have handled the situation in the car and my further relationship with that person.

Also, I'm interested and I want to be friends with people here, I just don't think I doing a great job.

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    I'd love to post an answer for this question, but as currently written it's not a great fit for the site and is likely to be closed. Can you focus your post so that it has a question aiming at a specific goal which involves interpersonal skills? "Is it normal" and "what should I do/have done" sorts of questions are off-topic on this stack. – Upper_Case Aug 28 '18 at 16:40
  • Since you had that conversation with her, why don't you approach her and ask for her help? You can say that you are not comfortable people you work with to feel you that way, but on the other hand you have a lot of things on your plate so you are a bit stressed or so... Although you are saying that you are extrovert, you remind me a lot like myself which I consider myself as a introvert :) I also didn't manage to overcome this feeling, but I realize that I can live with it. – lowselfesteemsucks Aug 28 '18 at 16:51
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I feel really good talking with all sorts of people I don't know and I believe I can handle almost any situation perfectly well, expect breaking in to established groups where I don't know anyone. If I know just one person all is fine, everything come naturally. But when this person is missing , I feel lost and kinda I'm being reminded of myself in the past, which feels kinda horrible.

Especially if the members of the group know each other for a long time, your feelings are normal. I startet my first Job after my apprenticeship a year ago, working together with people that know each other for a long time.

You can hardly participate in a group conversation, since they are probably talking about topics you don't know much about, or don't even wan't you to talk too much, because they don't know you yet.

The best way to break the ice for me was to have conversations with individual members of the group. You can start the conversation with the person about something you have heard from him during a group conversation. For example his family, that he likes to visit festivals, plays football ...

If you get to know the people more and more it will be much easier to be part of the conversation. It is however normal that this takes time.

"Yeah, It's just you seem very antisocial and you don't look like you enjoy talking to people."

Many people have heard something like this, including myself. Sadly what you think is not always visible to others, so they think differently. There are some basic things to look out for, for example seeking eye contact, standing upright and smiling a bit. What really helped me was to tell myself "I feel good, I like beeing here and am open to talk to people." during those group conversations.

The sentence itself from your co worker is indeed rude to say to you infront of others and I understand your shocked reaction. It is good that she talks with you about it, although it would have been much nicer to say that directly to you, not while other people are listening. You could have asked what makes her think like that, and that you are surprised.

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So let me get this straight: You're 22yo, working with older [SIC] persons, in a lab, and while not yet working on your doctorate, have your foot in the door? Sounds to me like: 1) they should be uncomfortable, and; 2) you are deserving of some high praise for your amazing achievement. Kudo's to you.

Comparing yourself to others is inherently unfair to you. Each person, regardless of environment (work/school) has their own experiences to draw from (e.g. your experience at your age has brought you to this place now).

With respect to the car incident:
1. IMHO, Never drive co-workers.
2. The comment from the co-worker, while harsh, could be used as an opportunity to reflect (or even inquire for more details). Of course, you could just feel horrible, but as you sound like a scientist, I will suggest that you treat this as any other "experiment" ... learn and leave the feelings out.
3. Given (as you say) the tone, maybe the person you were driving, was just a b-----. This tends to be supported by the comments when picking up the other worker. If so, this is less a reflection on you, than on her/them. (See #1)

...Is this how they see me... is of lesser importance than doing quality work. Your Professor is not likely to consider your work relationships in lieu of your work quality.

Finally, I understand the difficulty and frustration of trying to balance these two areas. To this I can only offer:

  1. Keep your eye on the prize.
  2. Pressure makes diamonds.

Good luck.

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