Welcome … to the Real World
By O Morris
I graduated from college almost a month ago, received a great job offer, and happily accepted it. Needless to say, my parents are thrilled and, to be honest, so am I. They threw me a huge party and showed me the plans to turn my old bedroom into the movie theater they’ve always wanted. Well, today is Monday and I start my new job in 30 minutes. I am setting in the parking lot sweating around the waist and totally terrified. I think I might even throw up. What can I do?
Breathe. Close your eyes. Take a moment to reflect on all the hard work and sacrifice it took to bring you to this very proud and powerful moment.
Be grateful. If ever there was a time for gratitude, that time is now. You started something and saw it all the way through to the end. You have tenacity. You have grit. You are a force to be reckoned with. You are a phenomenal human being. Millions didn’t make it, but you’re one of the ones who did.
There are countless in this country who would do anything to find themselves in your extremely enviable situation. Bask in that. Revel in that. Do the happy dance, the stanky leg, the jerk and the twist! (Okay, ask your mom about those last two.) Then take an honest analytical look at what’s really going on in your car right now.
You’re freaking out because this isn’t an exam anymore. College life is over. The solidarity of the “cram” is gone. The campus is gone, the overbearing professor is gone, not to mention ’Freaknic, Daytona Beach, Cancun and every other crazy spring break college destination you had the privilege of taking part in while still remaining in the land of the living. You probably should fall on your knees beside your car laughing, remembering the crazy stuff you did all while not in dire need of a defibrillator app on your phone.
The rite of passage called “college” is officially over, and you have now joined the ranks of the gainfully employed. Well, my darling, that sound you heard this morning was the alarm clock. It’s the real deal. Time to wake up and smell the coffee. A new chapter is starting in your life and it’s a wonderful thing.
I know you’re frightened. But take heart. We’ve all been there, and we’re all here for you. Listen, you’re afraid because in your mind you will now be expected to know it all. You think that all the things you crammed in your head to spit out on a test will now be asked, and you might have to answer “I don’t know.”
You’re scared to death that you don’t know how to do this job. In short, you’re afraid of failing. As you sit, shaking alone in your car in that parking lot, all this stuff is just manifesting in your head. But you are in the very best of company. Because you’re afraid just like everyone else who is sitting in a car waiting to start their first job fresh out of college. Everybody! The good news is nobody expects you to actually know anything at this point outside of some basic fundamentals.
Your first day is going to be HR, orientation, and meet-and-greets. You will have ample time to learn how to actually perform your expected duties on this job and settle into a nice and comfortable groove. In addition, you probably won’t be the only new hire, so look for the other nervous people in the room. I assure you they won’t be hard to spot.
So gather all your courage. Shake off your fears, get out of that car and head for the front door. You didn’t tell me your chosen profession, but it really doesn’t matter unless you’re a brain surgeon. And even they don’t spend their first day hacking off heads. The bottom line is that any place that hires a new employee expects to train them.
I feel your pain. Like you, I spent a total waste of time going through a similar two-hour melt down in my car in the parking lot before MY first job as a nurse. But my first day turned out great, and so will yours. So gather yourself and enter. If you use good manners, listen and look at people when talking to them, you will be just fine. Remember, you’ve already been hired. THAT was the hardest part. Good Luck!