Big Girl World: Lessons Learned In My 1st Full-Time Job
Next week marks my 1-year anniversary at my first big-girl full-time job! This year has been full of ups and downs, but I’m grateful for them all. Today, I want to share with you 5 lessons I’ve learned on the job!
Flexibility is key.
I work in social services, where I case manage 50+ low-income families at a head start program and help them become self-sufficient. I learned very early on that everyday is different and there is rarely a dull moment. There is always a phone call to be made, home visit to do, files to be updated, and deadlines that seem to come on a daily basis. As much as I would love to come in each day knowing exactly what I am doing every hour, it never works out that way. I learned that the easiest way to conquer the day is to be flexible. While I do have goals I want to accomplish daily and utilize a to-do list, I make sure that my schedule isn’t so rigid to the point that it can’t handle change. I try to get the most important things done as soon as I come in, so that I’m able to handle whatever comes my way throughout the day.
Speak up for yourself .
If you know me, you know that I am very “relax, relate, release” and try to keep the peace at all costs. I hate confrontation and try to avoid it when possible. Though I still love peace, I had to learn everyone is not the same and will take advantage of your kindness if given the opportunity. In the course of a year I’ve experienced a handful of occasions where I had to put my foot down and stand up for myself. I even had to send my first corporate clapback email (and boy was it liberating). Sometimes the corporate world can be dog eat dog and everyone is looking out for themselves. This is new to me, be it that I am a team player all the way and will do what I can to make sure the whole team shines. While it is still a work in progress, I am putting my foot down when needed and speaking up in situations that in the past I would shy away from; if I don’t stand up for myself I can’t expect anyone else to do so.
Representation is important
In my previous job, I was the only minority. I would often be the center of attention and the chosen spokesperson when it came to culture, hair (even to the point of people being okay with touching my hair without permission), and the African American experience. Now, I am surrounded by melanin and it is beautiful. Though it is a predominately African American center, we are a gumbo filled with Latino Americans, Caucasian, and other cultures too. It is nice having to not explain why your hair looks the way that it does, why your clothes fit the way that they do, or why you don’t order takeout for lunch everyday. Although the majority of us may look the same, we are all different and can show that our culture can work together, and that’s where the beauty lies.
When I first started in my position, my coworkers couldn’t understand me. They couldn’t understand why I was so positive and smiled all the time. I was deemed the cheerleader of the group because I was always the one to share encouragement, even in the hardest of times. Even now, on a daily basis I’m asked why I’m dressed up and/or who am I trying to impress. In any instance, my answer is always, “That’s just who I am”. I don’t have to conform to what others do or how others think I should act or dress in order to do my job well. I give encouragement because it’s in my nature. I dress well simply because I want to do so. And that’s not changing. For anybody.
Find joy in the little things
The truth of the matter is, any job is filled with its’ own stresses and challenges. No matter where you work, everyday will not be perfect. Sometimes, in order to keep your sanity you have to stop to smell the roses. Maybe it’s bringing a book to work and sparing 10 minutes to read a chapter. Or it’s putting your earphones in and getting lost in your own world. On some occasions, when I find myself getting too stressed, I take a break from my desk and visit one of my classrooms to get a dose of hugs and laughs. Sometimes my kids will pull a flower (or weed) out of the ground during the outdoor playtime to present to me as a gift, which is always a gentle reminder to just breathe and be. Life is too short to be stressed 24/7.
These are just a few lessons I’ve learned in one year. What is one lesson your current job has taught you? Let me know in the comments below!