Starting a new job is exciting for many, momentous for some and an emotional roller coaster for others.
For me it’s just another place I have to gauge how long and difficult it will be to keep my personality from forcing its way out.
I have had many jobs. And I mean MANY. I started my working life at the age of 15 and am yet to have anything to show for it all except for a long and impressive (and sadly 100% real) list of job titles:
• Petrol Pumper
• Sandwich Artist (yes that was my official title – way to go Subway for jazzing up ‘salami slapper’… Dammit Subway, you condescending JERKS!)
• Bus station coffee getter and mail sorter
• Pizza Delivery Girl part 1
• Pizza Delivery Girl part 2
• Radio Station intern
• Barmaid part 1
• Pizza Delivery Girl part 3
• Barmaid part 2
• Poker Machine Attendant
• Breakfast waitress
• Barmaid part 3
• Barmaid part 4
• Teddy Bear Stuffer part 1
• Giant Teddybear Suit wearing Mascot
• Barmaid part 5
• Checkout chick part 1
• Checkout chick part 2
• Barmaid part 6
• Junior Web Designer
• Online Editor & copywriter
• Graphic Designer part 1
• Graphic Designer part 2
• Senior Graphic Designer & Animator
• Teddy Bear stuffer part 2 (times were tough)
• Flash Animator
• English Teacher
• English Tutor
• English Conversation Coach (Italy isn’t exactly a digital metropolis)
• Freelance Flash Animator
• Senior Animator
• Flash Developer parts 1-3
• Writer (on the side)
And finally, starting one week ago,
• Flash Developer part 4.
Just making this list has been both a struggle for my memory and a bit of a shock.
Most of these jobs overlapped and shared time with study, travel, relocation and relationships. I worked two, sometimes three jobs at once and it’s been a hard slog. Why so many? I learn and live quickly and with the exception of a couple of setbacks, I steadily and consistently moved on to bigger and better things. A huge part of me wishes that I could retire already. I feel like I’ve worked and paid bills and lived in the ‘real world’ for a thousand years. I’m tired. Where the HELL are my riches?
I won’t lie, when I started this journey I honestly believed that by age 30 I’d be a millionaire with a personal chef and Siamese cats would massage my feet after I’d spent a long day Scrooge McDucking it into my pile of money. I wasn’t entirely sure how I would make my millions and I never quite figured out all the details but I just assumed everything would fall into place. It didn’t. I would like to say I’ve come a long way from my petrol pumping & sandwich artistry days, but the truth is I’m still pumping my own petrol and I’m still making sandwiches. Like a boss.
So as I start yet another job I wonder with hope whether this one will be my ‘forever job’ and if that’s the case then how much personality is safe to show in order to maintain my employment and take one step closer to said riches? How quickly should I start meowing, putting up pictures of cats and adorning my desk with Super Mario figurines? If at all? Is it really that important?
Why place so much importance on your job if you are working to live and not living to work?
Many people live double lives. Many people show a different face at work. Many people have self control and can keep that shit up.
To look at me you would assume a quiet, innocent little thing. I’m quite softly spoken and have the ability to relate well to all sorts of people. Which I think is why people are so shocked when I start to come out of my shell and it becomes clear that I severely lack diplomacy, think inappropriate things out loud, laugh at my own lame dad-jokes and swear like a sailor.
Being yourself and being comfortable at work is important. You have to go there EVERY DAY. You spend a huge portion of your life there. Of course it can’t become your front room, you still have to work hard and be professional and earn your keep. But you do have to enjoy it. If you’re waking up every morning, dragging your feet, or crying every sunday night just thinking about going to work, then something has to change. Grow some balls. Change is good.
Being able to do ‘be myself’ at work, to me, is an achievement. I have worked hard at reaching my own version of success that only a lifetime of crappy jobs can make one truly appreciate: I no longer have to deal with the public, talk on the phone or watch my language. I don’t have to ask anyone how they want their eggs or listen to them drunkenly complain about how much their beer cost, or make anyone coffee. I don’t have to wear a uniform or even a suit. I am a grown up and I don’t have to talk to anyone if I don’t want to.
So when I woke up on Monday and started getting ready for my new jobby I was surprised to find myself actually putting thought into what I would wear. Normally I will do the sniff test to whatever is closest to me on the pile on the floor and be blindly scooping my hair into an acceptable bun while I walk. You have to understand that after so many interviews, meetings, presentations and events I no longer get nervous or anxious. I don’t get embarrassed, I don’t care if I’m invited to sit with the cool kids at lunch. But now, in 2014, I am aware that just the fact that my archaic skills are still being sought after is a sweet miracle in itself, so I feel lucky and privileged to be in this position. Plus I’m not that much of a slob – I still care enough to wear pants. Just.
After perusing my wardrobe in a towel for 15 minutes I decide on my cat shoes, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with a unicorn on it. Pretty understated, really. I throw on a faux-leather jacket and a scarf and I’m out the door. My hair changes drastically while en route to the office – from a simple, neat ponytail to a frayed, weathered mop. That underlying pimple I’ve been giving death-threats to all weekend has called my bluff and decided to come along for the ride. I am running a few minutes early so I stop off for a coffee and of course proceed to spill half of it in my lap, and end up in the ladies room trying to gymnast-dip my upper thigh into a Dyson airblade to dry off.
Not a great start but as I walk to my new office and things start to look up. There is a shop next door which has a cat working there. He winks at me. I decide that this is good sign #1.
I’m shown in by my boss and introduced to a billion people, most of whom are dressed like me (nobody else has cat shoes but hey, I’m light years ahead of fashion). I see a unicorn poster over someone’s desk (note to self: talk to that person), some pretty awesome toys & games around the office (good ad agencies are always colourful) and my desk is already partially decorated by its previous inhabitant. I am shocked to see next to my computer a picture frame containing one of my all time favourite artworks, a Nighthawks parody, which was my Facebook cover photo for months. I briefly consider whether they have stalked me online. A distinct possibility. I decide instead that it’s a coincidence and that it shall be good sign #2.
I am careful not to swear. At all. Rule number one: Never swear at a new job until others set the precedent. Just as I’m searching my mind for acceptable words someone yells, ‘Jason, you cock, where’s my fucking stapler’ to which ‘Jason’ replies, ‘Left it at your mum’s house after I stapled her fat ass’. Good sign #3.
Something tells me I’m going to be just fine.
Throughout the week as I settled in, made new friends and started enjoying my new little place in the world I realised..
Maybe I already have my riches.
I mean, I do have that personal chef. I married him.
I do have 2 cats massaging my feet – even if they’re not Siamese and their massages feel more like bites or squishy paperweights cutting off my circulation.
And as for Scrooge McDuck, I’ll take diving into a gigantic jar of Nutella over a pile of money any day.
Moral of this story: Being yourself = Success.