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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Learning to Let Go of A First Job Experience

Lately I have been questioning what good job prospects are out there for someone who is graduated and fairly new to the workforce.  I jumped into my first job with great excitement because I truly believed that having my newly minted degree in hand, I could go out and show off my new skills. Nothing could have prepared me for what I encountered.

Instead the job that I entered was not what I believed it to be, and I quickly became disappointed and disenchanted by this first experience. When you have been in school for most of your adult life, and have had your nose in the books, there is nothing that prepares you for experience in the real world. That lesson has been difficult to learn to say the least.

Though the job I first encountered sounded perfect, as time progressed I realized how unhappy I was becoming. I felt tired all the time, I would not make time for myself to have breaks, I would break down in tears, I became deathly afraid of making any type of mistake, and I felt like I had to walk on eggshells around my employer.

I always thought that with all the years of counseling that I have had, I would have recognized the warning signs that I was not happy, but it was like I had blinders on. I jumped in and did not pay attention to the voice in the back of my mind that said “This place may not be the place for you right now.”

I have always been told to pay attention to warning signs, and in the words of one of my mentors, “If you are feeling any hesitation, you need to stop, pay attention to it, name it, and then take action if you need to.”

Warning signs came at me every which way, but I naively believed that, “Oh its just me, they’ll go away,” but they did not. The signs that came at me included impatience on the part of my employer when I would ask, “how do I do this?” and my employer flipped back and forth from being warm to cold, joking one minute and then the next minute being outright rude, particularly and short with me when I would ask for assistance with something I had just learned. 
I thought that I was in the perfect job. I attributed the second-guessing of myself and my work to my nerves and that it would go away in time, but nothing improved. I was working my tail off, working past my allotted hours, and forgetting that taking care of myself, keeping in touch with friends, and socializing had to remain a priority also.
Getting hired at your first job can be exhilarating at first but if you find that you are questioning yourself too much, or there is a dread of “what’s going to happen next,” it is time for you to stop and reevaluate yourself and what is really making you stay at a job that is making you unhappy.
Once you reevaluate your options, you can then decide what action you are going to take next. That could mean, going to your human resource office, or if the organization you are working for does not have that option, then maybe you need to sit down and ask your employer what can be done to remedy the situation. Lastly if those options do not work, you can go to a trusted friend for advice and finally there is the option of telling yourself, “It is okay to leave.”
I think it would have been better for me to have left instead of staying on because my world crashed down around me when I went to open my email and found the message stating “Things aren’t working out, your job is finished.”
When I read that, it really tested my resolve because I broke down crying and wondered “What did I do,” After the initial tears, I became frustrated and asked myself “Why did I choose to not recognize the signs that this might happen?”
My first experience in the working world was difficult, and my emotional/physical/spiritual and mental health went a bit off kilter, because I was not paying attention to the stress I was feeling, and the warning signs I kept repeatedly getting. I know now that I never again want to be in that type of position where I am second guessing myself and letting my own self worth slide to the point that I ask myself “Is all this worth it”. 

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