The biggest thing I learned this past year is that work will never fulfill me. Perhaps on a financial level, but not on a spiritual one. And this is why I'm learning to take M-F less seriously. Work is important and oftentimes necessary, and doing my best in any situation is pleasing to God. However, my purpose in life isn't to hustle or become successful.
I know I have a lot to learn, which is exciting and humbling. I never want to get to a point where I feel like I know it all, and feel uninspired to grow. At the very beginning, I had a huge head. I walked around as if I knew everything, which stemmed from my 4.0 GPA during my final semesters. But I quickly realized that GPAs don't matter in the "real world". Among that, here are other lessons I've learned since entering the workforce.
Making mistakes early on in a new job and throughout your career is crucial to success. Why? Because you learn how to handle them, and how to move forward.
I once wore jean shorts to an interview with Time Out New York. The person interviewing me barely made eye contact, and it was obvious I wasn't going to get the job. When I got home, I learned they tweeted about my outfit. I wrote to HR (while CC'ing the individual) that I was withdrawing my application. While we ended things on good terms, I learned that
a) You have to dress to impress and first impressions matter
b) I can't work for someone I don't respect
Ask questions no matter how silly or obvious it may seem
Speak up when something doesn't feel right
HR exists for this very reason. If you feel abused, harassed, or you're being asked to do something that's completely unrelated to your job, speak up. I was once interrupted on my lunch break over an important matter. This important matter was putting a handbag on hold at Barneys. You can't get fired for reporting something. And if you do, you can sue the company.
Don't feel bad for taking a break
Every employee has a right to take a break. We aren't robots. Don't overwork yourself to the point of exhaustion.
It's not always you
Since graduating from college, I've held six jobs. Some of them were awesome while others felt like a nightmare. When/if a job does feel less than ideal, it's important to take a step back and look at the situation from afar. Sometimes we're not seeing the entire picture.
For example, we may dislike our job because of the way our managers are treating us; talking down to us, flipping out when we make a small error, gossiping. We need to ask ourselves:
Why are they acting this way?
Perhaps they feel a lot of pressure to meet the requirements of their job, and they're projecting their stress onto you, or something's going on in their personal life. There could be a million and one reasons but the point is, we can't take everything personally. We need to focus on doing our jobs to the best of our abilities and if that isn't good enough, that's not our problem to fix.
Appreciate the people who are kind and helpful
Let go of perfection
You may feel pressure to do your job perfectly, and please every single person on your team. You'll fail at this because perfection doesn't exist. At the end of the day, we're just human beings. If you focus on being perfect, it will come at a cost. Staying late at the office means coming home at 10 pm. Skipping your lunch break to work on a project means missing an opportunity to hang out with your team. Not asking for an extension and handling too many assignments at once means lower quality work.
It's okay to ask for help.
It's okay to admit you don't understand something.
It's okay to look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I can't do it all."
These are just some of the things I've learned thus far, and I'm grateful to have learned them early on in my career. Simple and easy is nice, but where's the fun in that? Make a fool of yourself. Screw up. Accept a job offer that you end up regretting. Because it's in those moments you grow the most.