Do you remember the days of tubing in your childhood summers? You began by choking on the exhaust of the boat as you escaped the no-wake zone. When you made it to open water, you saw your dad give the “it’s time” thumbs up through your sex-laced, blue-tinted Oakley shades. Thumbs up, Dad, thumbs up.
DON’T SCREW UP YET. Your body is awkwardly straight as the boat moves faster than you can handle. PULL YOUR WEIGHT. You use all the power in your short little arms to pull your baby-weight body up to the top of tube. I’M FLYING! I’M AMAZING! THIS IS MY CALLING! You’re a star and so damn athletic. You glide over miniature waves; fly over the golden waters; pass the other lame kids in boat-pulled life-savers. My god, you’re awesome. Oooowwwww, OUCH. SHIT. THERE’S SO MUCH WATER IN MY NOSE. IS THIS HEAVEN? DID I DIE? WHERE ARE MY BOTTOMS? MY ASS IS SHOWING.
Tubing is a lot like your first job with one crucial difference: in tubing, your dad is there to rope in your half-naked body. Let me explain:
1. The “thumbs up” phase.
This takes place during the first month of your first job when you think: Man, these people don’t even know how good they have it; God, I’m such a genius. I have plans for this client that will BLOW THEM AWAY. Oh yeah, and I’m going to work out every day and eat right too. Yeah, I’m a little nervous but that’s expected; it’s not because I lack confidence. Ugh, my outfit looks so good. And my ideas, they’re so invaluable…I’ll definitely be promoted within a year. Just you wait.
2. The “don’t screw up yet” phase.
Of all phases, this one is perhaps the most awkward. Think: your manager coming up to you, telling you that your shirt is see-through and asking if you knew this? It’s likely that you had no idea; that you had never even worn the shirt before, and had actually been forced to get dress in the dark this morning because your lights went out. It’s important during moments like this to focus on the good feedback you’ve gotten: like the thumbs up from the creepy guys on the 2nd floor who can probably see up your skirt because you’re on the seventh floor.
During this phase you’ll get far too intoxicated at your first team happy hour, you’ll accidentally oversleep, agree to date a co-worker, send a poorly written e-mail (or twenty), and take a poop near your boss. Just breathe.
3. The “pull your weight” phase.
This phase reveals itself when you’re finally getting into the swing of things. You use all of your might, past work experience, and willpower to get shit done. You are exhausted and overworked but you are once again optimistic. Who goes home before 7PM? Not this guy. THAT’S your attitude. The only problem with this phase is that it’s the most fickle too — disappearing and reappearing at its leisure.
4. Beautiful; the “I’m flying” stage.
This will occur when you’re about to reach your one-year anniversary and you’ve fully mastered your current projects. This is also where you start working out again (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you stopped). This is when inside jokes between you and coworkers are finally secured, when getting a shout-out at the quarterly staff meeting is commonplace. You even got a compliment from the client — just one, but damn it felt good. It’s when you’re sure that your annual review will bring something golden. I’m too good at this point not to succeed and I’m on top of the fucking world, you think, and so you wait expectantly.
5. The “my ass is showing” phase.
It follows your yearly review, from which you left feeling disoriented and confused. No raise? No promotion? Apparently the “client doesn’t like your tone of voice”? And you need to “clean up your emails”? In keeping with the tubing metaphor, it’s at this point that you’ve officially been pantsed. All you have left to do is to float back to your cubicle. Your Oakleys are gone and you feel very sensitive to the light; you are ashamed and exposed. WHERE’S THE ROPE? DAD? DAD?!?! Anyone?!
Hop back onto the tube and into the cube, kid. It gets better.