1. You are going to make a mistake.
It’s okay. You’re new. You don’t know everything. Your supervisor is going to come to you and tell you that you haven’t done something. You forgot to wipe the windows or check the bathroom. It’s okay. Just say you forgot and thank them for reminding you. Whatever you do, don’t argue. If they didn’t tell you to do something and then asked you why you didn’t do it or something like that, just remember: who cares? Honestly, it may feel like they’re being unfair, but you’re not in trouble. They’re just reminding you, and they make mistakes, too, so let it go if they didn’t tell you to do something and then asked you why you didn’t do it. Okay? Just take a deep breath and treat them with kindness and patience. But more importantly, treat yourself with kindness and patience. You will get the hang out of it. I promise.
2. Be approachable.
I know you’re nervous and you have a headache. I know there’s three dollars in your wallet and you’re starving. I know you’re terrified they’ll make you go home because you wore the wrong thing or they noticed the blue streak in your hair. Take a deep breath and get out of your head. Because the whole time you were standing here worrying about everything, you’ve been staring into space with a furrowed brow, scaring away any potential friends and looking generally unhappy. And above all, you don’t want to look unhappy. If you’re nervous, be nervous. Who cares? Looking nervous is better than using all your energy to remain still and ending up looking like you don’t care about this job or that you’re unhappy with it. It’s better than looking irritated or unhappy. And smile. You are happy to have this job. You don’t have to hide it. Stop thinking so hard and just enjoy where you are and what you’re doing.
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
It’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal. If you make a mistake and apologize profusely or keep talking about it, instead of brushing it off and saying you’ll do better next time, then your employer starts to think it’s a big deal, too. It’s a happy middle. You care, but it’s not the end of the world. Address the problem. Ask questions. Stay in the moment. If you’ve made a mistake, fix it, and move on. It’s just a job! You have this moment and the next to move forward and do better.
4. Be honest.
If you’re offered 40 hours or you say you can work at 3 p.m. when you get out of class at 2:45, just tell the truth. If you can’t handle that many hours, then say so. Communicate. You have to communicate with your employer or they won’t know. Giving yourself 15 minutes to walk back to your car, change, eat a snack, and drive to work just isn’t enough time. What if class gets out late? What if you can’t find your nametag? Give yourself space to be human. Treat yourself the way you would treat a friend. And be honest, communicating what you can or can’t do. Otherwise, the resentment from not being heard will build up, and you will quit. Address problems as they arise.
5. Have fun!
You got a job! This can be fun if you let it be. Make friends and be happy you have something to do! You’re being productive, making money, and being purposeful. You’re here because you have a job. That can feel really good if you think about it. It’s nice to find your place in the world, so enjoy it when you’ve found it. It may not be your dream to wait tables or clean windows, but this is where the universe wants you right now, so embrace it.
August Pfizenmayer is the founder of Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and mental illness advocate. She loves reading, sweets, and warm weather. She writes confessional poetry, personal essays, and articles. Her poetry was published in the 2014 edition of Georgia State’s Undergraduate Art and Literary Journal called Underground. One of her current projects is a collection of prose poetry available on Wattpad. On April 11th, the next volume of The i’Mpossible Project will be available for pre-order with her story about life with schizophrenia featured in it. It will be in stores November 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.