From Our Readers
July 23, 2015 7:35 am

Whether it’s your first job out of college or your fifth job in ten years, first days are hard. Like seriously hard. You’re leaving behind something comfortable and embarking on an unknown adventure—an adventure that will involve handshakes, paperwork, and small talk. Yikes!

If you’ve got a bit of social anxiety—like I do—then let me talk down that little voice in the back of your mind obsessing over every embarrassing first day moment or interaction. It’s really not so bad! The best part about a first day is that you’ve got plenty more days to wow your new coworkers and ease them into the realization that you’re pretty much the most amazing person ever.

Here are the thoughts you’re probably going to have on your first day of work.

I have no idea what I’m doing. Why did they hire me? 

Everything is going to seem super overwhelming at first. But really, nobody expects you to download all of their procedures and processes into your brain right that instant. Ask questions! Keep a smile on your face and don’t let ‘em see you sweat. The timesheet system may seem like a meandering labyrinth where a minotaur is waiting to eat you halfway through, but all the other people working there figured it out.  Just remind yourself that they saw something in you that they wanted on their team and they’re excited to have you there.

Everyone’s going to lunch. Oh no, I need to make friends here. How do I make friends again?

It’s great that people in your office are friends and enjoy hanging out! Making friends as an adult can be weird and difficult. You can’t just hand someone a BFF bracelet or pass them a note asking, “Will you be my friend? Circle YES or NO.” But you can take a look around and see if one of your coworkers has a similar sense of style, or really cool office decorations, or some other expression of their outside-of-work personality. If you spot someone, ask them to lunch! You’re new, so you get a free pass at making random requests.

I am the most awkward person ever and nobody gets my jokes. Note to self: Never make jokes again.

This is me. This is so me. I tend to replay my every embarrassing moment over and over. But you know what? So does everyone else! If you had an awkward are-we-shaking-hands-yes-no-maybe moment with a new coworker, don’t worry. They were probably too busy thinking, “I’m so awkward! Now the new girl’s going to think I’m a germophobe.” So they didn’t even notice anything slightly off-beat that you may have done. Everyone is a little bit self-centered (not a knock! just the way we’re built!) and way more likely to notice and remember their own shortcomings than yours.

Auuuuuuuuugh!!

This may be your internal monologue while trying to figure out how many deductions go on your tax forms, through attempting to memorize your usernames and passwords, all the way till the moment you get turned around attempting to find the exit. But don’t worry! If you can manage to freak out silently until you get home, then you can call your mom or your best friend (or both) and tell them all about it. Weird first days make better stories. No one wants to hear you describe how you had perfectly normal interactions, located the water cooler without any trouble, and sat quietly at your desk for eight hours.

If only I could fast forward two months to a time when I know what I’m doing!

Sadly, none of us are Hermione Granger. We cannot fill out the requisite paperwork to acquire a time turner and take a quick peek into the future to see if we eventually learn everybody’s names. But you’ll get there eventually. That time will come. You just have to focus on getting through today. Then the next day. And then the next. Soon, you’ll have more yesterdays than you can count. And don’t worry—you WILL learn all (okay, most) of the names of the people you work with.

But the most important thoughts you’ll have come at the very end of your first day. You’ll realize that all of the paperwork and first-impression handshakes are out of the way. Done. I’s are dotted, t’s are crossed. You know where the bathroom is. You’ve seen your desk and can start figuring out how to decorate it. And the absolute best thought of all? Your first day wasn’t so bad! It was actually pretty great.

Pug Mugsly may or may not be a time-traveling dog gangster from the 1920s. She spends her days communicating professionally as a communications professional in Washington, D.C., and she would like to eventually be either a writer or a pterodactyl. While she owns many pairs of bike shorts, she does not own a bike. However, she does have a chinchilla and thinks it would be neat if he were the size of a bike.

Related:

Those truly awkward moments of starting a new job
7 mistakes you’ll make at your first job (but it’s totally OK)

[Image via TVLand]

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