I Don't Wanna Go


The nonprofit advocacy organization I work for frequently holds meetings in the bushes - at Buddhist retreat centers and such. These meetings are all-staff and last 2-3 nights. The food is not to my liking - vegetarian or vegan (oats and goat milk, etc). I'm afraid and uncomfortable in camp-like nature settings (bugs, bears, lizards, darkness).

We also have to share rooms with our coworkers from around the state. I'm uncomfortable with this. I love the job, but I'm a city girl and I feel pressured to go and pretend to enjoy myself. I have anxiety leading up to each meeting and I do not enjoy myself.

All of the white & suburban people seems to be ok with these events. Some city people love it too. The other city people are going with the flow. My coworkers tell me to be open-minded. It's just a few days. I want to raise the issue with management white/suburban, and I'm scared of looking like I'm not a get alonger. Please tell me how to have the conversation.


Mandatory group activities can be challenging for anyone, particularly if leadership has not done a good job of gaining the trust of all. Off-site excursions can be extremely difficult because they require the most vulnerable to extend their "at work" personas into off-work hours.

Not only are professional obligations interfering with folx’s off-duty lives, but the most vulnerable do NOT have the ability to turn off or escape from having to keep their “masks” on due to the expectations of others. In essence, these "adventures" aren't safe spaces for many because organizational norms end up dictating what would normally be off-work time and behavior. Folx are not only required to engage in the planned activities but are also expected to do so in ways that mimic workplace oppression.

Any on- or off-site engagements that require people to suppress their ability to communicate their needs honestly and authentically is a failure from the start.

Mandating the sharing of space with coworkers in environments that haven't been previously negotiated is a surefire way to erode any established trust. If sharing intimate space, including sleeping and restroom arrangements with coworkers is not a required function of one's roles and responsibilities, then such excursions should be opt-in only.

Leadership teams that don't consider the varying levels of comfort and safety individuals may feel when asked to participate in such activities are doing a disservice to their employees at best and causing harm at worst.

Also, this type of activity should be avoided if the only option is to share intimatespace with someone one only knows from work, particularly if it involves sharing space between the most privileged and the most vulnerable within the organization.

Raising your concerns about this issue with leadership is indeed a challenge, especially given the cultural differences between the parties. You mentioned that your management is mostly white and suburban. But, I’m not sure about your demographics.

To be completely honest with you, this won't be an easy subject to navigate. What you're doing will probably be perceived as a personal attack on their lifestyles and could lead to you having to deal with management’s unmanaged feelings, putting you in a position of having to defend yourself.

Now, with that said (forewarned is forearmed), I'd recommend being honest, because why should you feel uncomfortable and unsafe in silence?

I'd suggest stating your truth. It may be held against you, but it may not. This might provide an opportunity for leadership to develop a more inclusive lens through which to make future decisions. It will also offer you a chance to see if stated values and goals align with decisions and actions. It will give you another data point to evaluate how much you genuinely "love the job."

Good luck and best wishes. Together we CAN build a supremacy-free, coercion-free, discrimination-free, and Exploitation-free world!

Submitter Demographic Information

What role are you in?: Individual Contributor? [Executes vision/mission/core values]

What business sector are you in?: Other

Which 1 of the following domains does your question belong?: Retaining

Retaining Domain Areas: "Managing Your Feelings"

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