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?
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?”
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.