Humanities & Social Sciences placements

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' students share their placement and year abroad experiences.

A guide to the anxious person's first day!

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📥  2015-16, Politics, Languages & International Studies

Do you ever stay awake at night, looking at the ceiling, with a deep sense of anxiety deep inside you don’t really know where it comes from but you can’t chase away?

anxiety

 

For me that is quite regular. I am a pretty anxious person, and the deepest subconscious fear of being inadequate and out of place reveals itself in a myriad of other smaller, less ferocious but just as biting fears.

Before my first day of work, they expressed themselves in three main ghosts haunting me:

First of all, there was the fear of the Great Unknown: the first day itself, and not knowing what to expect from it. It mainly manifested in an anxiety of what I would have to look like to result acceptable and possibly giving a good first impression to all these new people I would have had to meet.

The day before starting I went for a round of shops trying to find the perfect outfit for smart casual (which may truly be the expression I hate the most in the whole English language), not too formal nor too casual, completely desperate and lost and basically feeling like I was an awkward teenager in high school again. Deciding how to wear makeup and my hair was just slightly better. (I'd expect this is mainly a female fear, given by the context of a society which sets impossible, contradictory standards.)

The second one is closely related, and it derives from getting to know and wanting to be liked by all these strangers. I am not terribly good with small talks and I am generally quite shy with people I’ve just met, so I was really afraid of resulting cold and not witty enough.

While the first two are around the same old question that I asked myself pretty much since I developed a conscience of the self, "Will they like me?", the third one is probably the most irrational: ”What if I don't know what the heck I'm doing? What if they thought I'm a completely different person when they interviewed me? What if, after all, I'm really just not qualified?”

Someone recently told me that this is actually not the normal way to react to things, I was shocked!

Someone recently told me that this is actually not the normal way to react to things, I was shocked!

These fears are actually quite easy to dismiss with logical arguments: even if the first day you completely mess up, it's not a tragedy. They'd probably find it just funny and endearing, and chances are that if they had interns they have seen all of it before. In any case, unless you mix up flip-flops and a Valentino pencil gown it can't go excessively bad. They are also used to new interns being shy, giving how intimidating a new environment is, and in many cases the first really professional ever experienced.

And finally, you are there for a reason. They hired you after a hard screening. They saw in you something that convinced them. That is a fact beyond paranoia and low self-esteem, and which is always worth remembering.

There is one final fear that I had when being offered the job: what if I’m gonna bore myself to death? Even before accepting, I knew Public Relations wasn’t my path in life, and I was really anxious I would have ended up hating what I had to do.

So how did that go? Well, some days are in fact extremely heavy and quite boring, and time never seems to go by. Sometimes it takes 3 coffees just to get to the end of the day, and with each I wish there was a cigarette included. But other days are quite fun, and there are times I really enjoy what I am doing, for example when I get to write or translate something interesting or I have a good idea for a nice design. Basically, I am satisfied with my job whenever I feel I learned something, or it had an impact on my abilities and I was able to show what I can do.

To someone that had the same fear of being bored for a year of their lives, I would say that eventually you start enjoying the smaller things, getting satisfaction in the details; maybe it’s a brain self defense mechanism, but it is quite effective. As well, there is life beyond work, and there are few things more pleasant than a cold beer and a good rant with friends at the end of a particularly tiring day: the lowest point means you enjoy the peak even more. In the end: you will survive.

You can always count on wine for some support!

And you can always count on wine for some support!

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