What To Do When It Feels Like Everything Is Already Going Wrong At Your First Job

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It's an uphill battle, but you got this.

Navigating the very beginning of your career is a daunting task, especially when it feels like you’re doing everything wrong. Now, I’m no expert—I’m just like you—but there’s a few things I’ve picked up while on my first job.

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Overwhelmed at your first job? You’re totally valid. As a fresh grad only months into my own first job, I don’t know how many more silent wails of “I’m just a girl!!!!” I have left in me. Having to deal with a completely new routine, all the crazy pressure, and the lightning-fast speed of work is precarious terrain to be traversed.

I’d also like to preface this article with a disclaimer that first job experiences are not one size-fits-all. I’m fortunate enough to be able to have my job and deal with it in ways that I can, and have the choices that I do. For many, a job is simply something that sustains them. And in this economy, that’s already so difficult. So, this advice may work for you, it may not, but regardless, I hope you’ll find a way to get through it all—fulfilled one way or another.

Something that’s been drilled into my head by social media, my friends, my family, and more recently, one of my bosses, was that your job is not your life. You are not your job. The work you do, love it or not, does not define you. It also isn’t a measure of your worth. But whether you’re working simply to earn money or because you absolutely love what you do, it gets tough. If you have some advice for me, feel free to share it because God knows I need it, but for now, I have some of my own.

DEEP BREATHS

First thing to do when faced with something upsetting or overwhelming—take a breather. It works, I can confirm. Pause for a moment and take some time, no matter how little you have, to focus on something else or figure out your next steps, whichever works for you. Often, when we’re dealing with a challenge or when things pile up, we become a panicky mess of jumbled thoughts and feelings. Just take a deep breath, and prepare yourself to move forward.

TRUST THE PROCESS

Here’s the thing—you’re new. You’re green. You’re not a failure. You’ve been thrust into the world of labor and no matter how prepared you or other people think you are, no matter what industry you’re in, it’ll always be a difficult learning curve. You’ll face challenges that everyone faces, and some will be unique to you. You will make mistakes, do things badly, get reprimanded, and fall short of your goals, among many other things. But here’s another thing—you will learn, and you will grow. You’ll get surprised one day that things seem to be easier, you’re getting things done faster. This is your first job! Allow yourself room to breathe and grow.

FIND YOUR PEOPLE

Whether they sit beside you in the office or they work in a completely different division, friends in the office will get you through your 9-hour shifts. They can offer moments of reprieve, humor in the hardships, and a shared understanding of your situation. Feel free to laugh, rant, complain, make TikToks, or find peace in company.

TREAT YOURSELF

It’s important to be smart with your money, no matter how much you earn. But it’s also important to find ways to keep your morale up and give yourself room to enjoy a life outside of work. Those little glimmers of joy you find in your iced coffee halfway through the day, in the first dinner you take your family out to, or even in those shoes that you saved up for—you deserve all the good things after doing your best. Don’t ever think you don’t deserve the good.

DON’T BE ASHAMED TO EXIT WITH GRACE

Trust your gut. Don’t dwell too much on what other people will think if you quit—no matter how long you’ve been at your job. At best, they’ll understand. At worst, you’ll simply have to explain yourself. And if someone thinks of you badly even after you do that, that’s on them.

If something deep within you just isn’t sitting right, don’t be afraid to cut your losses and move on. Whether you had a great time or a terrible time at the job, you most likely will have learned a thing or two—and at least you have that. Onto better things!

BUT DON’T GIVE UP SO EASILY

I am, admittedly, a notorious quitter. I often quit even before I start, convincing myself that I can’t do something so there’s no need to try. And I see so many people—friends, colleagues, strangers on social media—underestimate themselves in similar ways. Expectations placed upon me and the fear of not meeting them makes me go “what if I quit like rn…” almost every week (which is a common experience for sure), but I know that’s not the best decision for me right now. There’s so much more to do, to learn, and to experience.

Just know the road will have its bumps. You’re going to have to do a bit of growing up and make decisions, trust in yourself and the people you work with, and just take it one day at a time. Now let’s see if I can take my own advice. But you and me—we got this.

Continue Reading: 5 Things I Want to Tell My 18-Year Old Self Before She Starts College

5 Lessons I Learned From Being Pickpocketed In Paris

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Attenzione pickpocket!

Last year, on a metro train in Paris, two pickpockets hatched a pretty elaborate scheme that led to my wallet ending up on the floor and anxiety coursing through my veins.

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If you’re like me—chronically online—then you know the “attenzione pickpocket! ” lady on TikTok. Monica Poli went viral on social media almost exactly a year after I was the target of pickpockets on a metro train in Paris.

@cittadininondistratti2 #CITTADININONDISTRATTI #PICKPOCKETS #VENICE #BORSEGGIATRICI #cittadininondistratti #VENEZIA #BORSEGGIATORI ♬ suono originale – Cittadini Non Distratti

Getting stolen from is just a terrible thing. The hassle, worry, and stress of it all is just awful. But I got my wallet back pretty quickly, which is more than most victims could say. I’ll get into it later, but I remember feeling livid, indignant, and honestly, a little bit awed. I could not believe the pickpockets pulled off something like that.

Because I know the drill! I’ve traveled before. I’ve been to France before. My parents have constantly warned me about all the possible dangers lurking on the streets of Europe. I know all about the Italian rose scams and the Parisian taxi scams, and most of the other scams in Europe targeted at unwitting tourists. What I didn’t know was how elaborate pickpockets’ schemes could get.

THE INCIDENT

So there I was, on a train bound for the heart of the city, holding the pole because there were no more seats. My parents and sister were somewhere nearby. The doors open and these two young women who look like college students step in and position themselves behind and in front of me, grasping the pole.

The blonde girl in front of me has a giant tote that’s digging into my side, and the brunette behind me is holding a big jacket up against the pole. I realized later it was to block other passengers’ view of my bag.

I remember feeling irritated because why the hell was this blonde pressing backwards against me when there’s a perfectly good few feet of clear space right in front of us? She was so close to me that I thought about moving away to that clearing in the train car, but the bumpy ride made it impossible not to stumble.

Which is why I was unsurprised when the blonde, as the “distraction”, stumbled when she let go of the pole to fiddle with her bag. I—in my infinite, naive, kindness—grabbed her elbow and asked her, “Are you okay?” That’s probably when the brunette behind me unzipped my bag and took out my wallet.

@london_content Always be aware.. #pickpocketsitaly #pickpockets #milan #london_content #fypシ #fyp ♬ original sound – user2117519005342

Later, my dad told me that he sensed something was up immediately when the girls stepped in, which is why the moment we stepped out my dad told us to check our belongings. You can imagine the panic that flooded through my body when I saw my bag was unzipped and my wallet was missing—the same panic that led me to step back into the train alongside my dad who demanded my wallet back.

The girls pretended it just fell even though we and the entire train car saw the brunette toss it to the ground. We made it back outside seconds before the train doors closed, and I simply could not stop thinking about the incident for the rest of the day. You can bet I’m even more cautious of my belongings and surroundings now as it taught me valuable lessons I took to heart.

THE LESSONS

Always keep an eye and a hand on your belongings.

@miakellyyxx

♬ Attenzione Pickpocket – Remix – Wack Beats

This is why my phone is always in my hand. I tend not to put it in my bag so I’m always aware of where it is. I still remember how it felt, cold in my jacket pocket as I gripped it tightly on that train. I was, admittedly, a little less aware of my bag openings because I was distracted by the blonde invading my personal space. When I shared my experience online, my friend from Paris advised to always have a hand on your zipper. Not just your bag, but its zipper. That way there’s no way it can be opened without you feeling it.

Trust absolutely no one.

@alextrouvailles i had naive TOURIST written on my forehead but follow me for travel tips/vlogs anyway 😍 (why did i stand there and have a convo in 3 languages like they dont rob people lol) #paris #fyp #france #parisscam #travelvlog #parisian #traveltiktok #eiffeltower #traveltips #parisaesthetic #parisitinerary #traveltips #touristtrap #travel #pinterest #summer #europeansummer #french #europe ♬ Every Summertime – NIKI

I wonder if the blonde girl laughed at me later for falling for the “catching her when she stumbles” part of the scam. Anyway, trusting no one even if someone seems all nice and well-intentioned is a pretty good tip, especially to strangers in public. Sometimes we have to sacrifice being kind for our safety and the safety of our belongings.

Be not just vigilant, but hyper-vigilant.

@kirstenslater0

Where’s the attenzione pickpocket lady when you need her!

♬ original sound – user2117519005342

Paris is a pretty popular spot for pickpockets–the throngs of tourists make for easy pickings. But even if you think you’re aware of your surroundings or you’re in a pretty safe space, don’t let your guard down. If you think you already know everything about keeping your things safe, think again. It’s so easy to be distracted, especially when you’re purposely being distracted.

Try not to look like an easy target.

@kateinmontreal How to avoid getting pickpocketed in Europe! #europe #pickpocket #pickpockets #traveltips #europetravel #travelsafety ♬ Attenzione pickpocket x montagem – jovynn

On TikTok, there’s a current trend of videos of people showing the necessary steps they take to protect themselves from pickpockets and thieves. They turn their rings and watches inward, or put their expensive bags and sunglasses in canvas totes. While I personally won’t do anything too out of my way like that (granted, I don’t really dress extravagantly anyway), it’s generally a smart idea to not be too flashy and blend in, especially in new, unfamiliar places. Tourists are pickpocket fodder. So those TikToks may be onto something, but don’t be too obvious! Don’t give away that you have something valuable.

Beware of unusual behavior—trust your gut.

@_gisellemouk side eye and then quick grab x @Eliza Pearce #pickpocket #paris #eurosummer2023 #fyp #bestfriend ♬ what is love – edits

Both my dad and I felt uneasy on that train ride. I may have not known why at first, but I knew something was up. If any sort of doubt or questioning crosses your mind, take it seriously. Get out of a spot or situation that makes you feel like something’s wrong. Make any necessary moves to stay safe, because it’s better to be a cautious overthinker than to risk losing something you value.

Stay safe out there, and help others out too! Be the “attenzione pickpocket” lady (minus the racist views) the world needs.

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5 Things I Want To Tell My 18-Year Old Self Before She Starts College

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Besides about the global pandemic, of course.

Don’t we all wish we could’ve done some things differently?

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In all honesty, I think my 18-year-old self should give me some advice. She still has some light in her eyes. I truly embody the Taylor Swift lyric “How can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22?” and I wonder what my 18-year-old self would think of me now. But with time comes learning, and while past is past, I still wish I could reassure my younger self that everything would be alright.

At 18 I was on my last year of high school, about to enter my dream program at my dream university, so excited at all the new that was about to happen.

Well, all this “new” came at me like a truck. To be fair, a pandemic was new. It was just the opposite of exciting. And after my first low grades and a rejection that truly, unfortunately, shaped my entire college life, I was henceforth sick and afraid of the new. But here I am, looking back, changed by time like water smoothing stone, hoping everything I learned could help someone else.

SO, TO MY 18-YEAR-OLD SELF:

Resist the urge to underestimate yourself, but keep the humility.

First things first—you’re going to think you peaked in high school. And that’s kinda not true. Kidding aside, college is a shark tank of all the smartest, most ambitious sharks that want the same things you do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, to think you can get swallowed up by all the doubt and shrink into yourself, believing that there’s no space for you to explore and pursue your dreams. But don’t.

You’re where you are because you, and other people, had faith in your ability and your promise. So keep that faith locked in. There’s enough space in the world for you to learn, to chase your own dreams, and to do what you love.

You can’t give up the moment it gets hard. You can handle more than you think you can.

What to learn Before Starting College

Speaking of underestimating yourself, I’ve always been so guilty of simply passing over opportunities because I think I can’t do it. Or that it’s not “worth it.” I’ve said “okay na yan” more times than I can count. I lower the bar because I’m afraid of pushing myself to the limit only to fail. But I know that you can’t see the view from the top of a mountain without making the climb.

And I don’t tend to regret many things, but looking back, I know I was too complacent and never pushed myself or my work to its best. Unfortunately, I find that I still do that sometimes. But we work through it. You power through the anxiety and the fear of failure, and you’ll strike gold.

Open yourself up to the possibility of enjoying and learning from new experiences.

What to learn Before Starting College

Some of my favorite classes were electives that I took because I was drawn to it, despite the potential of a bad grade, or classes I thought were unnecessary. Some of my lowest grades were in those kinds of classes, too! But as a self-proclaimed nerd, I found that the learning was worth any bad grade. Also, some of my favorite experiences in student organizations were in positions I didn’t even think I qualified for.

I learned so much from those classes and org experiences, and not just about the lessons and the kind of work I did, but about myself and all the possibilities I had in front of me. How would I feel if didn’t let myself be open to the possibility that an experience, while presumably out of my comfort zone, could be great for me? I’ll have spent so much time wondering what if or being ignorant about something that could help me understand myself and the world I wanted to partake in.

Surround yourself with good people, and be the kind of good people you want to be surrounded by.

What to learn Before Starting College

My thesis partner, whom I knew since freshman year, once said to me that they regretted that we only became close during our final year, and while the pandemic (and unfortunate circumstances at the time) did fracture newly-formed friendships, I was lucky to have found friends that will stick with me long-term. I don’t have to tell you to be a good person or a good friend, but you do have to choose friends wisely and with an open mind.

“Time goes fast. Eat it up, but chew slowly.” – Emily Wickersham

This is a shot of the driveway I got lost in the very first time I stepped on campus—the same driveway I spent about 20 minutes in every day both my freshman and senior year before going home. I don’t think it changed much, but I definitely have.

Four years of college went by just like that, and I’ll always feel a sense of resentment at having a full experience ripped away from me. But what the last few years have taught me is that you just have to take life day by day, moment by moment. Life changes and we grow old fast. Before you know it, you’ve graduated and you’re thinking about all the regrets you have and all the things you should have done and writing about them like you’re a 60-year-old with all the wisdom in the world. Regardless, while “make the most of what little time you have” is generic and clichéd, it’s always sound advice.

In all honesty, all that this sentimentality leaves way for is me wishing I knew better before. But the important thing is, I know better now. And hopefully, you do, too.

Continue Reading: So, You Just Graduated From College. Now What?