Disclaimer: This post is more about my experience within an office/corporate environment rather than the company I work for – I want to keep that ambiguous to avoid any confidentiality/conflict of interest issues.
Keep in mind, I’ve been working in this office for two weeks now, so I’m kind of jumping back and forth in time as I go. Some parts I’m describing as a story, while others I’m just talking normally – whatever suits my fancy for this post, but just go with it (don’t question me, woman, man, whatever you are). Enjoy!
In all my life, I never thought I would work in a place that almost touched the clouds.
Nor did I ever really consider the idea of working for a big corporation, but here I am. Curious, yet confused, yet curious.
I remember shuffling in on my first day. The main entrance of my building looks as sheen as marble – crafted with white, glossy floors and black stone accents framing the walls. There’s two doors on either side of the room, both made of thin glass, allowing you to observe the “work” occurring inside.You’d think it’d seem a little magical, but unfortunately, tired faces in suits and slacks are quite the opposite.
I remember the scent too – from the moment I walked in, I noticed the cleanliness in the air. But it was a sterile type of clean, a hint of chlorine recycled through metal shafts and ducts five times over. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feel welcomed by this sterile, marble beauty of an entrance, but quite honestly, I knew I didn’t belong there. Rather, I knew I was out of place.
Not only am I one of the youngest faces in the vicinity, but men and women alike, born and bred professionals (so it seemed), moved with a gait that I could never hope to match.
Confident. Classy. Capable – could I be any of these things?
Interestingly enough, the safest, most interesting place to me was the elevator going up to my floor. My building has six stories (if I remember correctly), and all different types of businesses are housed in this one building, meaning you see all different kinds of faces pass through (although hardly any of them matched my own).
In that small space you shared with others getting ready to start their work day, there was something more — something a little intimate about our short experience together. We’re all in the same place, going to different sectors, but have the same way of transportation to get there. In this space, you can smell expensive cologne, hot coffee, lavender herbal tea, and the remaining drift of cigarette smoke. All these things, all these human things, regardless of our different destinations, define a strand of ourselves, and how we muster through our days.
The closeness too allows you to see the equally tired look in everyone’s eyes, but also that sparkle of hope that the day will go smoothly. I notice this too when I’m in the elevator alone – you can still pick up the remnants of coffee, food, or perfume, and for some reason, it reminds me that I’m not alone.
I’m coping, managing, and working too – and there’s a twisted beauty in realizing that everyone else has just as much on their mind as you do.
But let’s get to my floor; floor 5, to be exact.
I walk out and am greeted with glass doors. Rows of office cubicles hide behind the entrance and I enter with my special ID badge (pretty cool, I know).
Quiet, working faces focused on screens dot each cube I walk by, and eventually, I find a cube of my very own.
Let’s just say I adjusted to the cube nicely. After I brought a multitude of figures from my favorite TV Shows and video games, pictures of friends, my trusty PlayStation mug, gemstones for good energy, and some artwork to hang on the walls, I knew I was set.
I made it my own as soon as possible, because damn it, if I’m going to sit there for eight hours a day, I may as well give my space some flair. Which it turns out, that we have a lot of space provided to us in comparison to other offices (but this is my first office job, so I know no better anyway).
After a few days of adjusting to my new space and to new friendly faces, I knew who my lifesaver was going to be. And who frankly, already is: The break room.
Why? – Because free coffee. And tea. It’s a necessity. I would be a goner without it, and you know why? It’s not because I have to get up at 6:30 AM to get to work for my 8:00 AM shift (okay, maybe that’s part of it), but because of how mentally draining it is to stare at a screen with fluorescent lights above you for eight hours straight. Granted, I’m in training right now, meaning I have a ton of information being thrown at me at once, which would exhaust anyone, but man, I’m not used to it. Oh. And the awful traffic. But I’m just gonna skip that piece entirely (because we know just how much I love it).
I went from being a waitress, flying around to several tables on a Friday night in a very low light setting, to a totally sedentary desk position that has lights so bright I feel like standing directly in the sun. For 8. Hours. (Help). Let’s just say I’ve left work with a few tension headaches, but I’ll hopefully get used to that in time. I just ordered a pair of glasses for myself that help protect your eyes against strain from light. Because seriously, when I come home, the blood-shot, sunken in, pasty pale, saggy purple look is real. But again, most of life’s big transitions are a struggle ya have to get through. And this being my first career job, I’d expect it’ll be probably the biggest transition I’ll ever have in my life. And I’m still alive – so that’s a win.
But hey, I still have plenty of moments that I can stand, stretch my legs, get some more coffee (because God I need it), and talk with coworkers.
Let’s just say I was lucky too, because I’m not the only new hire in the office – it’s been really nice to be utterly confused and perpetually exhausted with a handful of people rather than to suffer alone. Commiserating is God’s greatest gift, if I do say so myself.
ANYWAY – This place is different. An office…is different.
Going and sitting at my desk and just going for it is probably the most disorienting thing ever for me. I’m so used to being actively monitored in a job/school setting, that this stark difference made me realize that I’m seen as a responsible adult now.
I’m expected to come in and do my work effectively, because I was hired under the impression that I’m an educated professional that actually cares about their work, thus making me a trustable source.
Say what? I can’t even buy groceries alone, please God, don’t leave me alone in the dark, more like don’t leave me alone in these fucking fluorescent lights! GAAH!
I guess the whole “self-governed” aspect of this work environment is a bit of a ‘trigger’ for some of my biggest insecurities. When I was in college, I was governed to be successful. Of course, I did much of the painstaking work on my own to prove my worth, but there was still a solid guidance.
In my career now, there’s still guidance, but there’s this expectation for you to kind of manage yourself…which, as I’ve said about myself multiple times, I’m my own worst boss.
I have so many personal projects and ideas that I never pursue, and now I have to hone all that excess self-motivating energy into my career, because I’ve got to put food on the table somehow, right?
Well, I suppose work is still kinda different in that I’m motivated by potential to move up and by the need to meet business quotas, etc, but still, I’m not used to the freedom.
Like, I remember shakily asking my manager if it was acceptable to change my wallpaper on my computer and they just chuckled at me, like – “Of course you can change your wallpaper! It is YOUR computer after all!”
By no means do I want to break some foreign corporate policy that blue galaxy wallpapers somehow look too similar to competitor propaganda, thus making me a spy that will be banished to the office dungeon with no coffee and 500 times the blinding light – Yes, these types of thoughts span my brain sometimes – especially on my first day before I had my music on my computer. It’s actually pretty quiet in my section of the office, so day one, all I could hear was the occasional click of a keyboard, the hum of the air conditioner, and the sound of my very misplaced heartbeat. I thought I was going to drown in the silence until I finally broke by asking if listening to music was acceptable – which it was (*plays cinematic video game music while training to feel like a badass as I learn the ropes*).
I also find myself reaffirming…well..myself a lot. When meeting new people in the office, I don’t know how many times I’ve said I’m either:
A. A nerd
B. A recent college graduate
C. A “Insert some random blerp of unique life experience that somehow makes me seem more competent”.
Simulated confidence is a dangerous road. It’s either I sound like an arrogant asshole if I’m too confident, or seem like a meek new hire if I’m not confident enough. Which of those two options am I actually the closest to? Eh…more of the annoying overachiever type, so somewhere in the middle probably. Even my trainer said to me the other day – “You’re a bit of an overachiever aren’t you?” and I look at her and am like “Me? Naaah.” as I furiously take notes on each word she says.
I’m sorry. I can’t help it. College trained me well. I just graduated from there. I’m a nerd. Uh, and I was, uh, part of all these honors societies, and I tamed dragons once too, back in the day, ah yes. Also, I’m 22 years old. Haha #youngin, please don’t hate me, I’ll go back to my desk now.
That just about sums up my experience so far: for a more solid taste of reality in all this, everyone I’ve met has been really supportive of me and I’ve made a lot of great progress in my training. Each day is another day closer I get to helping others, and I’m both thrilled (and terrified) to have the opportunity to touch the lives of those who need it most: college students.
They can trust me. Because I was just one. And I was a nerd. *Wink*.
Start a new job recently? Tell me about it in the comments or shoot me an email!
With everlasting encouragement,