An awkward person’s guide to navigating your first job

Beginning a new job can be an unnerving experience. You’re the new kid on the block and you’re trying to figure out the dynamic of the company. However, when you’re shy and awkward, that anxiety never really goes away. I recently freelanced at a digital agency and it was a bit daunting because it was my first ever actual job. But I learned a few things and wanted to share them with you.

Don’t assume that your co-workers dislike you

This may not be an issue for most people but I was often worried about this for a while. In my office, I was situated separately from my own department due to lack of space so I ended up being seated with people I didn’t really work with on projects. This ultimately made me feel a bit awkward and so I kept to myself with my headphones on. The lack of talking made me feel like they were interested in having a conversation, so I ended up even more anxious. However, I soon starting having random conversations with my co-workers at the desk or in the corridor or in the kitchen. It became obvious that they were just, you know, WORKING. I had just let my anxieties get to me.

Get out of your comfort zone

I was afraid that my fear of interacting with new people was going to stop me from actually enjoying myself. So when the Friday lunchtime gaming club was mentioned to me, I jumped at the chance to join. Yes, we had a lunchtime gaming club at work. And I’m so happy that I took that chance because I was able to interact with people I didn’t talk most of the time. I was finally comfortable with being myself and having fun. I wasn’t really that anxious after that.

Getting to know your colleagues isn’t that scary

Having just finished the job, this is something that I wish I hadn’t been so afraid of doing. Yes, I did chat to my desk mates sometimes but it kind of felt awkward especially since there were computers acting as barriers in front of us. I guess I felt like I’d be bothering them. Still, I wish I hadn’t let that stop me because as a result, I didn’t really get to know them well and they didn’t get to know me well.

Have faith in your abilities

Maybe this was a side effect of this being my first actual job. I had interviewed and given this opportunity but I would still have moments of ‘what am I doing here?’ Early on, I actually believed that one day, someone would say ‘hey, you’re not actually doing a good job and we’re going to have to let you go’. Honestly, I felt like a fraud and a child playing as an adult. Then, one day, my team leader told me that I WAS doing a great job and that work was strong. After that, I was easier on myself.

Don’t back down from new challenges

My work at this job was a challenge itself. I had to adapt the way I wrote and learn how to keep things even when the content was not. I also discovered that you may have to work on some things that you did not anticipate and for me, it was official documents. This felt daunting and I kind of felt like I would screw it up. People outside of my work were going to see these and I wanted to do my best work. I had adapt my writing skills again but I’m glad I did it. Because of this, I learned that I could be a flexible writer and write about different subjects. When you’re given a new assignment, don’t think of it as a hurdle. Think of it as a chance to learn a new skill.

It’s never too late to show your true self

Beginning a new job can sometimes feel like starting at a new school. You’re too scared to talk to other people and before you know it, it’s been a month and you feel like it’s too late. It becomes easy to shut down and give up. But work isn’t like school. It’s not too late to make connections. It took me a while but I became less scared of showing my true personality. I gave off this vibe that I was quiet and kept to myself but really I love talking to people about shared interests and geeking out about things like Marvel movies and Mad Max: Fury Road (it’s so goooood!).

Don’t be afraid to try out different things

I was really lucky with this job because I entered the real world of work at an interesting company full of really great people. This was my first job and I didn’t know what to expect but working with these people has helped me gain more confidence in myself and my abilities. It’s made me interested in learning more about the industry and now I’m applying for new opportunities. And this time, I’m not so scared.

Nabeela Ali is a Scottish writer, occasional blogger and a semi-mature child trapped in a woman’s body. An ex-English and Film student, she loves films, is a cake-loving TV addict, and is nerdy for all things Marvel and DC. She loves spending her days scrolling through Tumblr, writing advice for herself and crying over fictional characters. Follow her ramblings on her Tumblr and her blog.

[Image via 20th Century Fox]