On Having A Real Job

July 3rd, 2013 § 551

A few years back, my mom woke up one morning to discover she had lost hearing in one ear. Just like that it was gone. She went to see a specialist, as one does when you suddenly wake up with four and half senses. And you know what the specialist  told her after he had finished his investigation?

He said, “There’s no silver lining.”

This might sound strange, but my mom and I have laughed about that many, many times. I love her for it too. It can be straight up funny when people say it as it is.

Life after graduating college, life when it’s first being calibrated to Monday through Friday, 9-5, is very much like being hit over the head from behind and having an ear, nose, and throat doctor say to you, “There’s no silver lining.”

I find it fascinating that we don’t talk more about this. We hear about the terrible two’s (which in my experience is actually the terrible three’s), we talk often about the terrible teens, but somehow we fail to mention the terrible twenty-somethings as a legitimate phenomenon. In fact, I feel that almost everyone in my life-stage identifies to some extent with feeling confused, misled, unprepared, and/or generally disillusioned about life in the “real world” (as some people are apt to call it). For awhile it made me want to ambush every soon-to-be college graduate I know with flashing lights and a road sign reading “Warning! Worst time of your life ahead!”

But it’s inevitable.

So instead, I present a brief informational guide to having your first office job…

Welcome. You’re about to feel stiff, mentally-fried, and in total shock about what just happened to your life.

(1) The first signs that you’ve entered this life stage will be powdered coffee creamer, fluorescent lighting, and direct deposit (and thank goodness for that since you’ll have so little time to spare that a trip to the bank feels like sitting in an airport with a 10-hour layover).

(2) You will quickly notice that office dynamics are much less like a classroom, and much more like a perpetual family reunion with 3rd cousins you haven’t seen in ten years. You don’t really have anything in common with these people, but you’re obligated to make small talk over day-old bagels in the break room.

(3) The first four weeks after your first two weeks, you will feel like time is smiting you mightily for every second of your life you’ve ever wasted playing Tetris. In fact, time will tick by so slowly, you’re almost certain you’re twenty-times less fertile than you were eight and a half hours ago. This is when snacks are most vital. They will become your mini finish-lines, your reward for making it two hours without bursting into tears or allowing your eyes to roll back into your head. Almonds at 10am. Pretzels at 2pm. Cheese-stick at 4. If it’s a fancy-pants day, perhaps a greek yogurt. Never will a snack feel so like the hope of an impending sunset.

(4) You will know you’re getting adjusted to things when you are able to have regular bowel movements even though you spend eight hours a day in a swivel chair. This is one of several important reasons to pass on the day-old bagels in the break room. I’m telling you these things because I care about you.

(5) The transition is complete when you spend your day-off in satisfied relief that you accomplished both a dentist appointment and an oil change.

(6) Some things will get better. Some things will not, and you’ll get used to those too. But when it comes to the day-old bagels in the break room, there is no silver lining.


The truth is I’m actually learning to love the work that I do and to be filled with gratitude every, single day that I get to be a small part of women flourishing. It humbles me. And someday when I become the exquisitely disciplined woman I’ve always dreamed of, I hope to write extensively about this. Until then, there are certain things about life spent punching the time-clock that are too absurdly funny not to attempt to capture.

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