Welcome! Honest Lies is the personal site of a 25 year old graduate electrical engineer living in the UK. Covering every day life, books and various other randomness. Read more about me and the site here.

“All I feel is emptiness here, searching for what you want me to say. I’m terrified…”

Something I’ve found difficult to adjust to in the 9-5 life is definitely where the lines exist in interactions with coworkers. They aren’t friends, but you see them daily, and it’s confusing as hell trying to thus figure out how to interact with them.

When I first started work I admit, I shared too much. I’m always like that when I’m trying to integrate in a group – I’ll say anything, if I think it will make someone like me or find me interesting. It’s a terrible habit picked up from being an immigrant child trying to fit into a school where the only other foreigner was my own sister. I wanted to impress, I wanted to be interesting, I wanted to be liked. I would do anything, even lie, to try and fit in. So, I always do this. But I realised I was doing that and I tried to back track, to withdraw and become more careful. But I was embarrassed and I felt awkward. I am aware of the lines I have crossed, the mistakes I initially made as I tried to settle into this working thing.

I worry about what my co-workers think of me, what they might say about me over their cups of tea on their coffee breaks or worse, to my line manager.

I know the world doesn’t revolve around me, but people do tend to chatter amongst themselves in offices don’t they? People talk, whatever their intentions for it. It’s the worst thing about office life for an introvert – a big open plan space, lots of people, and the unsettling feeling of constantly being watched that comes with that.

It is awkward and confusing. You spend more time with these people than your own family, you have to be nice to them, you need to make a good impression and appear a good team worker, but at the same time you need to be on your guard because you’re the graduate/junior, and you don’t know what they will report to your line manager about you. You need them to trust you to do your work more than you need them to like you, but how much does liking you come into play with trusting you to deliver?

I have taken to keeping my head down and working as quietly as I can, and only asking work questions and brushing off personal enquiries as best I can, or giving light, featureless answers. I do try to show interest in my co-workers, but carefully, generically – sticking to the safest topics I can think of. I think this is the right way forward. I don’t want to become friends and I don’t want to develop those kind of emotions in my work – I want a separation between work and my personal life. I am scared about getting too attached to this one job and getting attached to the people around me would, I imagine, feed such an attachment.

Of course, sometimes I go to site, and this often involves long drives. Stuck in a car for hours with a single coworker. It’s terrifying and I find myself rambling sometimes, and I don’t like that. It’s hard to know how to navigate travelling with coworkers.

Recently, I attended a team dinner and that was another level of confusing. I have another team dinner invite sitting in my inbox and I’m not sure if I should accept. It feels like I need to draw lines. If I start engaging like this, I am scared that line between work and personal will get blurred, but only for me who doesn’t have the experience or the worldliness to know how to navigate work social events without getting attached or saying the wrong things, or blurting out something awkwardly personal….

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

Today I decided I was going to take a day trip to the Yorkshire Coast again. The difference this time was- I was going to drive it. I set off very early in the morning, grabbed a Starbucks, and then headed across to the coast. I had just a single high-speed road to take before a set of narrow, twisty country roads so it wasn’t beyond my abilities – that, and the roads were very quiet early on a Sunday morning. It was just very long.

Gannets
My trip started with a visit to the RSPB Bempton Cliffs. Context: The RSPB is the Royal Society of Birds. The Bempton Cliffs are a long stretch of sheer cliffs part of the Yorkshire coast which serve as a key nesting site for thousands of sea birds, many of them rare (especially in these parts) such as Puffins and Gannets. I have been wanting to go there for the longest time, because I want to see puffins (because who wouldn’t want to see Puffins.) Although the drive did get stressful on the approach to the cliffs, because of aforementioned twisty country roads, I got there OK and even managed to park OK. It was just past 10 when I had arrived, so the drive was just over an hour and a half. Bearable, especially with my excitement about the puffins to motivate me!

At the entrance to the nature reserve a very nice man from the RSPB talked me through my visit and what I could expect to see and he provided a helpful handout – for free no less – with detailed illustrations of the birds to help identify them.
I entered the reserve and began my walk along the cliffs, stopping at all the viewpoints to look for puffins. There were thousands of birds coating every available surface of the cliffs, sitting on the water and flying around the cliffs. (They were incredibly noisy too.) There were a lot of people there too, and I felt quite inadequate compared to the sheer number of them carrying all manners of binoculars, tripods, telescopes and DLSRs with what looked like a meter of lenses attached to them. A lot of people there were clearly Very Serious about birdwatching, and were planning to spend a long time at it. (I even spotted a man asleep, and snoring, on a bench and I imagined him spending his morning at a viewpoint, taking a noon nap before carrying on.) I felt a little sad when they could spot puffins and no matter how much I scanned with my camera on full zoom I just couldn’t. Looking for tiny little puffins among all those thousands of birds was a very strange, frustrating game of ‘Where’s Wally?’, with the picture far away and constantly shifting.

PUFFINS!!!
But, I did manage to see some puffins. Maybe not as many as I wanted/expected? But I was so close to the ones I did see which was absolutely amazing. I definitely agree with the RSPB information that they are slightly comical in looks, but I also found them incredibly cute. I could also see Gannets, Kittiwakes, Herring Gulls, Guillemots and Razorbills. (Basically all the birds listed on the sheet bar two!) I saw the very young, very fluffy babies of the gannets and kittiwakes, nestled in under a parent (Interestingly, and luckily, when I look over my photos I can zoom in and spot things I never picked up with my own eyes – an extra puffin, more babies. It’s pretty cool and I can see why most people were carrying about such heavy equipment – their photos must be incredible.) It was absolutely amazing and it would have been worth the drive just for that, but my day would get better.

My sister is in holiday in Scarborough with some girlfriends at the moment. So I asked her if I could crash their holiday for the day so I could see her- and she said yes :) I drove into Scarborough from the Bempton Cliffs, getting a little lost trying to find the car park I had chosen thanks to my GPS going wonky, but again just about managing it. I met my sister and her friends at a small, out of the way restaurant where we had food like hot sandwiches, burgers, chips, salad and nachos for lunch. It was all freshly made, very simple but flavorful and reasonably priced. 10/10. After a filling lunch we made our way to the beach, where we set ourselves up for the rest of the afternoon. I waded into the water with my sister for a bit, but then we both just lay down and chilled in the sun. Although the day had started out a bit grey, and I had started out wrapped up at the cliffs, it turned into a gloriously bright and sunny day and I was hot even after shedding all my extra layers.

It was really relaxing, lazing about in the sun with my sister and her friends, talking about nothing in particular and soaking in the warmth.

We then went into one of the arcades and wasted only a small amount of money playing the 2 pence a go games, then we did some quick souvenir shopping and headed back to the car. The walk back to the car was unfortunately uphill most of the way and I don’t think anyone was impressed with my choice of parking. :/

Although this was my first time taking passengers, thankfully the nerves about that didn’t get me too much and I drove everyone back safely to their accommodation. I pretty much dropped them off then set off back home. The drive back was way more tiring and I had to stop for some caffeine – even though it was late and I knew it would affect my sleep, I was getting worried for myself and my concentration. After getting a shot of caffeine in me I was OK for the rest of the drive. Thankfully the roads remained quiet and I got home in good time. I am interested to see how I will sleep tonight, if I will manage to wake up tomorrow morning, and how driving will be tomorrow… I’ve had a great day though and I’m feeling pretty proud for all the “driving firsts” I ticked off today, successfully.

“And the river grows inside of me”

When it comes to driving there are three things I am most afraid of – a collision when I’m driving (I see the aftermath of these too often on the road to work), hitting an animal when driving (see road kill too much too), and crashing into one of my co-workers cars when parking at work. (Well, I fear crashing when parking all the time, but most keenly at work. I do not want to have to face one of my co-workers everyday knowing I smashed up their car. It’s not something that should or does happen.)

Guess which one occurred yesterday?

I drove into the work car park and there was a small crowd of people gathered at the smoking point there, a couple of them hanging in the road. I was too aware of them. I didn’t position myself properly and as I drove in to the bay and felt myself coming too close to the car next to me I didn’t stop and correct it I just thought it should be ok because I wanted to get parked and away from the stares of those people. The two standing in the road, their jaws dropped as they watched me smash into the car next to me. I can’t forget the look on their faces. It was loud, it was obvious, it must have looked quite aggressive. I somehow managed to correct myself and get into the parking space, turned off the engine, then I covered my face with my hands and wished fervently for the ground to swallow me whole. I felt so stupid and embarrassed and scared. I tried to phone my dad but couldn’t get through, then I googled, became even more scared from the results, tried again and again to phone my dad and finally got through. The tears came then. I sobbed down the phone at him, but thanks to him I at least had a plan (and some reassurance, too. I badly needed that…) After the phone call I gave myself some time to cry and panic some more, then I forced myself to calm down. I took pictures, I went to reception and asked them to look up the details of the car owner, who was thankfully not part of my immediate team at work, and she came out and I had to tell her I had damaged her car. She took it well, seeming more surprised than anything else (who can blame her. Its a ridiculous situation) I took her email. Later, much later, after I had time to process and phone my insurance I sent her my details and the photos.

Now I wait. She hasn’t responded yet and she wasn’t in the office today. I don’t know what comes next.

I can’t believe this happened. I feel deeply embarrassed. I’ve spent so long learning to drive and I’m still…not very good at it. It was very hard to drive back from work yesterday, and then to drive again today. I feel vulnerable and scared. I’m worried for what I’ll do, what wrong judgement I’ll make next.

Mostly, have I mentioned that this is extremely embarrassing?

In the end though, as embarrassing as it is at least it is just embarrassing. At least I didn’t flatten some poor innocent animal or drive a car off the road or get driven off the road. I didn’t even dent either of our cars – it’s superficial paint damage only as far as I could tell. Nothing was hurt but my pride. (And, I fear, my reputation at work. I don’t think anyone else knows about it but I fear it becoming known…)

Checked on my fish tanks this morning to find that my Betta fish had built a huge bubble nest. Overnight. It certainly wasn’t there last night….But look at it now! He has sort of built these nests in his old tank but never at this scale- it was usually nothing more than a small clump of bubbles. Look at this thing though! I’m a little taken aback by the size of this, and the timescale of it (overnight!!). I’m taking this as a sign he really likes his new tank.

(Technically this is a breeding behaviour ingrained into the fish. They build these nests to keep the eggs in and keep said eggs oxygenated – yes, the males look after the eggs. According to some websites, Bettas will build these even in sub par conditions as it is such an instinctive behaviour. But then other websites say they’ll only build them if comfortable and happy. So who knows, really…the internet is a confusing place for research. I should probably buy a book or go the library…easier to Google though! 😅 )

Copenhagen Day 4/Hamburg Day 1

German ICE Train
Tuesday 11th October 2016, 21:48

I am now in Germany! I got a direct train from Copenhagen this morning and arrived four and a half hours later in Hamburg in the afternoon. I was a bit nervous about the journey before hand – I had been keeping an eye on the information boards at Copenhagen central station to see where/which platform the Hamburg train leaves, but I couldn’t see a Hamburg train at all. Thankfully I managed to get to the station early enough that I could ask at information. They confirmed my platform number, seat reservation and the directness of the train. Sure enough, Hamburg HBF was listed at that platform as the service after next. I waited around, munching on Danish pastries which tasted much the same, very disappointedly, as those you get in the UK, feeling quietly excited for the journey to come. As soon as the Hamburg train became the next I went to the platform, I got out my phone and readied to video the train coming in. I was so curious as to what German public transport was like.. the train came right on time. It was a fairly small train, but then it has to be I suppose as it has to fit on a ferry (wait for that), and there didn’t seem to be too many passengers. There was a mix of people travelling but most actually seemed Danish or German.

First Class Seat in German ICE Train

Inside the Train
I had treated myself to first class as it wasn’t more expensive than standard, so settled in to my spacious seat…after taking many pictures. I was so excited. And impressed. The train was spacious and clean and well aired and at a comfortable temperature. We got going and sped our way through Denmark down to Rodby, at which point the train was driven onto a ferry. I don’t know the logistics, but there is a compartment/section on the hull of the ferry with tracks, and somehow these are aligned to the tracks on land, they must be, as we drove slowly but surely into the hull of the ferry. There were trucks being driven in either side of us. It was so surreal and so freaking cool.

Disembarking from the train, some views from the Ferry
As soon as the train stopped we disembarked and climbed up to deck for the crossing. The ferry seemed huge. There was the hull with our train, and two columns of trucks either side, and what seemed to be two levels of cars above that. Then there was an indoors level with restaurants, shops (duty free even, but only about…I think it was 18 minutes into the journey? Clearly we had to pass into international waters first / beyond the authority of Danish maritime authorities) and seating areas, and then a top area divided into indoor and outdoor seating. Sadly it has been a gray, cloudy and damp day so the views were rather dreary and it was drizzling. I started to feel a little seasick, so overpaid for some coke and chips. I sat out on the deck in the rain, sipping coke and breathing in the cool air, tinged by diesel fumes and cigarette smoke, but clean enough and still better than indoors for my queasy stomach. I must have looked a little crazy sitting out in the rain but oh well. Soon enough we were called to embark. I didn’t waste any time and joined the small trail of people heading back to their cars and to the train. I managed to get some pictures of the train in the hull but as much as I was curious as to the logistics if it all I was wary of lingering, fairly certain there would be no headcount. There was none. The train started up and was driven off the ferry in about five minutes after we were called. There were trainspotters watching us coming us off the ferry and I badly wanted to see what they saw. I don’t really understand how DB Bahn was pulling this off. It was the coolest nonetheless.

Train in the hull of the ship, tracks on the base of the ship

Puttgarden was our next immediate stop and our first in Germany. It was then another rush through Germany down to Hamburg. I felt tired and queasy and although the scenery was pretty, with surprising wildlife (herons, deer, birds of prey) I kept dozing off. My first class seat was very roomy and very comfortable . Although the train got a bit busier at Puttgarden it was still lovely and quiet.

Danish Scenery versus German Scenery. :| There were a lot of wind turbines on either side.

We arrived into Hamburg at 14:21 after leaving Copenhagen at 9.37am. I disembarked and went up to the main station and immediately had my senses assaulted with the rush of people and noise. Hamburg is crazy. So much busier than Copenhagen was, though I do recognise I was in Copenhagen predominantly over the weekend, and Hamburg now in the week. Thankfully it’s well sign posted so I could find the tourist office and pick up a map and some leaflets. I hadn’t really planned this part of my holiday at all and wanted to do some while resting and being still.

Sad little hotel room.
My hotel was thankfully just over the road from the station. It’s great location is pretty much it’s only standout. The room is cheerless and sparse. Tired and lacking in any kind of decoration. There isn’t even a coat hook, or a nice seat. There is a bed, a table and stool and a wardrobe. There is an aging bathroom, clean enough, but also so tired looking it makes you feel a little tired and depressed to see it. What a sad, dreary room. It’s no smoking but it was definitely smoking at one point – there is the unmistakable smell of it sunk deep into the surroundings. Worse, the door is flimsy, the lock flimsy, the front desk never seems to be manned, so anyone could come up here, give the door a good kick and get in. There’s no safe or locker. It’s a tiny bit worrying. Oh and the walls are thin and I am acutely aware of my neighbours. It’s like being in student dorms again. Oh well… the location is amazing and that’s what I need. (Also the room is warm. The hotel in Copenhagen the heating refused to come on making for a slightly chilly stay. So now I am warm. Yay for small victories?)

Hamburg Art Museum

Hamburg Art Museum
After a little planning I ventured out for a quick poke around the art museum. There was no map available, none I could see, so it was quite confusing and a little overwhelming trying to make sense of the maze of rooms. I found myself going back on myself and getting lost. It’s a weird experience getting lost in a museum. After that I went to check out Lake Alster but I felt tired and still fairly queasy so although I did see the lake I didn’t do much walking around it as planned. I headed back instead, treated myself to a bratwurst and chip supper takeaway. Then holed up in my sad, dreary little room to finish planning and rest.

Hamburg HBF