No one ever talks about the trials of their first job enough.
I’ve previously worked in retail and while it was my first job, I feel as though I’m only just stepping into my FIRST job, working as a content creator for a digital agency.
See what they don’t tell you is how nothing you studied will prepare you for the office workspace. The deadlines. The pressure. The hesitations. The insecurity. The conflicts. And then you’re tackling all of that ON TOP OF having to “find yourself” as the self-love gurus put it and trying to make sense of the world whilst gripping onto the last few shreds of youth and lack of responsibility you have left.
I most certainly wasn’t ready. I was hoping my degrees would have equipped just enough to get by and I had the arrogant idea in my head that everything that fell out of my mouth was pure gold. This, given the occasion, could be true but in moments like these, you have to learn how to put your pride aside and put your head in the game for the benefit of not only yourself but the benefit of everyone on your team.
I’d never really had to do that before as previously my employers and colleagues usually gave me a pat on the back with every word and action I gave and I was rarely challenged outside of my friend group (yes, when I say outside my friend group, that includes the men I have dated). Keep in mind that challenges don’t always come as roaring disapproval of your thinking or opinion, because more than often, challenges just come as people, situations or opportunities that are unlike or unrelatable to the self you have built.
Consequently, these challenges made me rethink and re-evaluate the ideas I had around the woman and leader I want to become. Of course, there’s the age-old saying that we don’t change ourselves to fit into the spaces of others, however, in our nation most especially, “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” roughly translating to the notion that we are a people who thrive on a culture of community.
All that meant is that this little lady had to go to the drawing board and, as Queen B would put it “revisit, reshape, re-plan and start again”. I had to find ways to remain as passionate and as fiery as my soul craves, without dimming my light, to be able to create a space for others to feel comfortable to open up and teach me things I would never learn otherwise. True, you can’t please everyone but there’s gratitude in the fact that’s a lesson too.
And I’m still learning. I mean, it’s one of the hardest lessons I’m having to learn but now and then, I get to see one amazing creation go live and I get to watch people interact, be entertained and have their lives changed. If anything, the best thing I have taken away from my job experience thus far is growth is hard but nothing beats the rewards.
Written by: Princess Khumalo