Those truly awkward moments of starting a new job
When I was 18 I quit my job at a bookstore and began working at the ultra-cool vintage resale store, Buffalo Exchange. Naturally all of my coworkers were fantastically well dressed, knew their brands and were at least five years older than me. While I had always loved clothes, I wasn’t well versed in the ins and outs of fashion. This became outrageously obvious one day in the break room, when one of my coworkers, sifting through the pages of a catalog, looked up at me and said, “Lord, I love Anthropologie.” “Wow,” I thought to myself, “she dresses so great and she’s interested in anthropology; how cool is that?” Excited to hear more about her anthropological interests,
I asked, “That’s so cool! Is that what you’re studying?”
She politely laughed and said, “No, honey, that’s a clothing line.”
Being new to something pulls at a lot of different awkward vulnerabilities, and it’s tough being the newbie at first! The good news is that everyone has had their first day at a new job, and though it may be painful at first, we always adjust.
Before you get too stressed out about this new chapter in your life, know that we’ve all felt the following things on our first days at work:
1) You forget your lunch
Because it took you 4 ½ hours to get out the door this morning, terrified that an unexpected natural disaster may occur, causing you to be late on your first day, you rushed out the door forgetting your lunch (which is of course a salad and yogurt, because that’s just, like, what you eat all the time because you have an extremely balanced diet because you’re a respectable adult who can feed themselves. . .yeah).
2) You always dress like this (yeah, sure)
Wanting to look sophisticated and professional, you spend 48 hours straight trying to find the perfect first-day outfit. Something that says “I’m reliable, but an independent thinker,” something you most likely put on a credit card. When you walk into the office, everyone is wearing t-shirts and jeans.
3) You’re just waiting for direction
The first day is a party favor bag of nerves, ambition and awkwardness. Not wanting to seem overly confident, you patiently wait for some direction on where to start. This turns into you silently standing around like a baby deer dropped in the middle of the woods at midnight.
4) “WTF is this keyboard?!?”
Your old keyboard was silent and flat, but your new keyboard is bulky and sounds like a typewriter. Your wrists feel weird, your fingers feel weird and you’re typing in a way not unlike a cat batting bath water from the ledge.
5) Nobody remembers you actually work here
Refilling your coffee mug in the break room, a coworker unwittingly mistakes you for a lost and wandering client, forcing you to explain that you’re just new. Do you really look that clueless that you could be confused for a stranger who absolutely does not belong in the break room?
6) Phones are hard
Whether you’ve got your own phone or you’re sharing one with coworkers, answering and maneuvering new phones feels like the most terrifying experience in your life. Do I just say hello? I hope no one is standing by me when I answer my first call. Meant to put person on hold, hung up on them instead. Trying to “smile with my voice,” actually sound psychotic. Paging an extension of a coworker, you say your name only to be met with “who are you?”
7) No one has names
The first walk through the office is a blur, and you can’t remember a single person’s name. You wait until you absolutely have to know someone’s name to sheepishly ask, and even then you continually call Jeff “Jim,” or everyone has hard to pronounce names.
8) You’re stuck asking this: “Excuse me do you know the key code?”
Though it is only four numbers, and you’ve been told 18 times what it is, every time you walk back into the building you can’t remember the front door lock code. They’ll never keep you as a long-term employee if you can’t even make your way back to your desk! (Pro tip: save it in your phone, just don’t identify what it is!)
9) You get your first social invite. Cue stress.
Someone in the office is having a fall BBQ and was thoughtful enough to invite you. On the one hand you feel so excited you got invited, on the other you’re terrified of showing up by yourself. Maybe you should just have one glass of wine before walking over. . .or two? Uh oh. Or, perhaps you find yourself unable to talk about anything other than your cat and spend the rest of the night awkwardly forcing people to look at pictures of her, to avoid having to small talk. Starting a job is a hard for all the weirdest reasons. Don’t worry, though. If you can hold out (and hold out on showing too many pictures of your cat), it gets so much easier.
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