Hello my wonderful readers, it’s me, Casandra. I hope you haven’t forgotten me in the past seven days. I know I missed my normal mid-week post this week and for that I am sorry. I do have a pretty solid excuse though: I started my full time job this past Monday, and going from working just over 20 hours to working over 40 between two different jobs has definitely been a major shift.
In fact, I had a bit of a crash this week.
I use the word crash because some time ago my therapist and I had a conversation about the power words can have over your mental health. I used to describe my bad days as breakdowns and she was quick to correct me. While mental breakdown is not actually a medical term, it is used in clinical settings to describe an acute mental disorder. By using this word all the time I was implicitly linking a bad situation or a bad day to something much worse and detrimental. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of full on breakdowns but for the most part a bad day was just a bad day.
And last Wednesday was just that.
A bout of binge eating snacks I wasn’t supposed to have, writing panicked messages to my best friend, and a teary phone call to my mother and I realized I had been carrying far more inside my head than I should have been. Fears and anxieties had built up in just a couple of days, and pretending that everything was just perfectly fine had done more harm than good. I needed to talk about it, to go through the fear rather than avoid it. So that’s where I’ve been these past seven days.
Now that I’m back, I want to share my experience wandering into the working world, especially since I know many of my readers are venturing in themselves or are a few years away from leaving campus to find full time employment. I’ve learned some valuable lessons in the nearly two years since I graduated university and they were hard lessons to learn, especially because they challenged much of what I expected of myself after graduating.
So here’s three not so little lessons I like to remember when struggling with a new job:
It’s perfectly normal to have to find temporary work
In this day and age where stable full time positions seem to be the thing of fairytales (I know how lucky I am) it is important to remember that you haven’t failed just because you jumped into a position outside of your field or if you are working a few hours on the side in the same job you did before college. Finding a job can be really difficult. Actually, even finding temporary part-time work can be extremely challenging. You just do whatever you’ve got to do to keep going. Whether that’s selling clothes, flipping burgers, or in my case telling ghost stories, it’s okay to do whatever you need to do to get by.
I remember how frustrated I was after graduation, feeling like my degree was just a flimsy piece of paper in a $50 frame from Michael’s (I was far too cheap to buy the official ones from my school). It took me months to find a job and even then it wasn’t something I could have ever done for a prolonged period of time. I then went completely outside of the focus of my studies and went back to hospitality because it was what I knew. It was frustrating at the time but I realize now it was what I needed to do to get the ball rolling. Whether you’re in the position for weeks, months, or years, it doesn’t really matter: don’t let the weight of not working in your field weigh you down. In fact, know that you are doing amazing things even if you never end up working where you originally thought you would.
You won’t know everything right away, but you’ll figure it out
This is the lesson I needed to remember the most this week. I think you get so used to the flow of school that it’s easy to forget work doesn’t have that same flow. You won’t file into the same classrooms where teachers or professors will be waiting with a lesson plan or a syllabus. There won’t always be an exact due date for each project or an outline of how to do your work. A lot of stuff you’ll have to learn on the go. Sometimes someone will be there to show you how to do it and other times you’ll need to work it out yourself. That can be really intimidating, especially if you’re like me and you’re afraid of failure.
But that just brings me to my last reminder:
Mistakes are going to happen, it’s how you deal with them that matters
It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, sometimes things are going to get messed up and sometimes it will be your fault. Other times it will not be your fault but the consequences will still end up falling to you. It’s important not to get wrapped up in mistakes, whether or not you caused them. You cannot let a mistake beat you or scare you out of future work. Own up to any mistakes you make and see if you can fix things. If you can’t, see if you can find someone who will be able to help you rectify the situation. Always move forward. Adapt your methods to try and minimize the chance of the same mistake happening again but be aware that others will come.
Mistakes are part of life and since your job is part of your life as well it is only to be expected that mistakes will happen there too. Things will never be perfect but you can work hard to minimize the damage. More importantly, don’t let a mistake paint your opinion of yourself. Everyone messes up sometimes, big and small, you can come back from just about anything. Be kind to yourself, especially when things keep going wrong. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s what truly matters.
Those of you who read my posts but don’t know me personally may be surprised to hear that I would not usually consider myself an optimist. I’m not the most pessimistic person on the planet either but I do have a tendency to be a cynic. Still, it is healthier and more productive for me to look ahead with optimism and hope in this scenario. It will help unravel the knots in my stomach as I face each unknown. I hope you too can find the optimism in whatever journey you’re on, even if it’s scary and new, never forget it can lead to something beautiful.
The truth is, I’m still in the process of learning these lessons myself. Some days I feel the weight of expectations pushing down onto my shoulders, crushing me with each passing moment. I need to remember these truths just as much as anyone, especially now that everything is new again and I’m feeling a bit lost. Perhaps that isn’t a bad thing.
“There is little difference in being lost and exploring.”
— Dan Eldon
Rolling into week two I’m feeling a little more sure of myself so hopefully that won’t mean another absence from my regular posting. Besides, I have some really fun shares coming up for you so stay tuned!