March 29, 2013

26 Things I Learned During My First Year Of Real Employment

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Thought Catalog Flickr
Thought Catalog Flickr

1. Bank account balances can be comprised of more than two digits.

2. Once you determine exactly when you need to wake up to make it to work on time, you will get out of bed at that precise moment every day with no time to spare. For example, I get out of bed 31 minutes before work starts. Not 30 minutes; 30 minutes is not enough time. Waking up 30 minutes before work starts is a crisis.

3. Exactly which holidays are federal holidays and which are just the stupid ones.

4. I appreciate my free time so, so much more. When I was an undergraduate in college, I had seemingly inconceivable amounts of free time — when I look back on it, it’s astonishing. I think I actually transcended the space-time continuum with the amount of unstructured, obligation-free time that I had. What did I use it for? I created a fake NFL team in Madden (The Murderballs) that I played with through the year 2028, and once I completed an entire coloring book while stoned. You’re welcome, humanity.

5. There’s no gossip like work gossip. I mean, did you hear what that bitch said?

6. Management and HR people talk in vague, cryptic terms like, “We’d love for you to turn-key that training session for us,” “Let’s talk about this offline,” or “We need to streamline our best practices.” They also keep making odd references to something called “healthcare” that I haven’t gotten to the bottom of yet.

7. Even if you’re good at your job, you spend a lot of self-destructive time agonizing over the fact that you actually suck at your job. Unless you’re me; I really do suck at my job.

8. You start quantifying major expenses by the hours and days of your life they cost. Like, “In other words, the front brakes, the four new tires, and an alignment will cost me approximately six days of my life? Terrific! Would you like any major internal organs while you’re at it?”

9. You can drink some beers on a weeknight and just kind of chill — every time you drink doesn’t have to end with crushing cans on your head and hoarsely screaming the lyrics to “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Instead, you can recycle your beer cans while singing Billy Joel at a moderate, respectable level.

10. It’s good to go out with work friends because it gives you a chance to indulge in incredibly particular “shoptalk” that no one else you know could possible find interesting. Sorry, but your roommate does not give a crap about your suggestions for improving inter-department communication.

11. There will be times when you need to choose between utilizing the precious free time you have left and getting some sleep. Always choose sleep. Always.

12. Hopefully you work with some cool people, because work is one of the only ways to make new friends once you hit your mid 20s. I’m one of those weird people who still hangs out with their friends from high school, but it’s nice to know I can hang out with the people I work with if I get really, really, really desperate. They’re like my “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” friends.

13. If you’re consistently five minutes late for everything, it’s not considered an eccentric sort of punctuality.

14. Invariably, at any company event that serves alcohol you will have one too many and spend the next day mentally replaying all of the conversations you had and trying to remember if you said anything bad.

15. When you become gainfully employed, you do not magically acquire the other superpowers of adulthood, like the Ability To File Taxes or the Power To Not Have A Futon For A Bed.

16. There are two kinds of people in the world: the people who hold demanding fulltime jobs and find time to work out, and the people I don’t irrationally hate.

17. For sheer adrenaline, replacing one of those big Poland Spring water cooler jugs has to be up there with base jumping.

18. People can be so much cooler than the first impression they give off. You’d think I would’ve learned this before I turned 25, but I think I was too quick to desperately cling to people with the same interests as me in high school and college. It’s rewarding to develop bonds with people that you never would’ve expected to get along with at first.

19. How to answer 95% of questions I’ll ever get in a future job interview, 95% of which are predicated on the fact that you’ve had previous employment.

20. When in doubt, STFU.

21. Friday, from 4:00 to 5:00, can be more fun than anything you actually do over the weekend: the anticipation, the possibility, the way that 42-year-old woman down the hall is playing the 80s Pandora station just a little too loud… it’s the closest you can come to Christmas morning as an adult.

22. It doesn’t matter how many people tell you that starting to put money away for retirement is incredibly profitable and prudent, it still sounds like setting your paycheck on fire.

23. If you spend your entire workday mere steps away from a constant source of free coffee, within weeks you’re really just a few subtle shades away from being a crystal meth addict.

24. Oh, TAXES — now I get it.

25. At times, you may find yourself falling into the trap of defining yourself by what you do from 9 to 5: “I keep bees, therefore I am a beekeeper.” Yes, but you’re much more than that (you’re also very weird, you weird beekeeper, you). You also may find your self-worth becoming distressingly reliant on your salary. If you find this happening, remember to smack yourself in the face.

26. As lame as it sounds, I feel accepted at my job in a way that I never have before. This strange collection of twenty-some peculiar individuals, bound by nothing more than a common profession, is like some bizarre family. Although they are all exceptionally skilled and qualified, they’ve somehow seen value in me and praised me beyond all due justice. They plucked me out of the massive sea of unemployed college grads, most of whom are more marketable than myself (I’m not being humble; my 1-page resume was quintuple-spaced), and gave me a job, something to be truly thankful for. Most of all, I think they actually like me. They don’t even make me scrub toilets or dig graves or undergo potentially hazardous radical treatments. I’m going to go ahead and stop right here before I start using the acceptance I get from my job as some kind of pathetic substitute for the crushing insignificance I felt nearly a decade ago in high school. In fact, let’s just ignore that last sentence altogether, okay? Thanks. TC mark

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