Over the weekend, I met with a good friend of mine that I haven’t seen in a while. We had studied together at college, and he and I often partnered up to do group projects and lab work, so strictly saying, he’s someone I consider fundamental to my life experience.
Like any two people our age, we started talking about our jobs and the changes that have happened since we’ve graduated. And that got me thinking about this whole process.
When I got hired for my current job in June 2013, I had had a bit of work experience under my belt. It wasn’t anything special, but at least I had the basic skills of dealing with people and deadlines and the understanding that a happy boss means a happy employee.
I was also super excited- my dream was coming true! I had worked so hard to get here, and I didn’t need any special treatment to get into the organization, as is common in Lebanon. No, my education and my character had gotten me this job and I was going to do the best job possible to prove to everyone that I deserved it.
When I started off, I knew I was capable. It wasn’t because I had graduated from two top universities and managed to be just 21 when I finished studying. It was because I had to learn everything from scratch in an incredibly short time. And I never said no. The more the gave me, the more I smiled and took it all in.
Speaking of smiling, I’m generally a friendly person. But I learned to smile to get what I want. Even on my worst of days, I kept up a smile and a friendly demeanor, even though there have been many times when I just wanted to yell “STOP making that idiotic joke for the millionth time.”
I’d like to believe that day in and day out, I’m still proving myself and trying to show everyone, look I’m not this young kid. I know what I’m doing and I’m confident about the information and the work. I make mistakes like any person, but I own up to them. I try to pitch in with ideas for improvement. And from 8 to 5, the work is almost always the number one thing on my mind. I also like to think that I’ve built a kind of rapport with the people I see day in and day out, even if we aren’t “friends.”
Except the more time passes, the more I ask myself, is this still my dream job? Am I as good at this as I thought I was? Am I doing work worth doing and changing lives?
It is pretty tough. They don’t tell you about this whole questioning process when you’re a college student looking for work.
You’re led to believe that you have the whole world in front of you. You just have to go out and knock on doors until someone answers and gives you an opportunity. Then you work for a few years and see that this was just empty talk.
I’m not exactly surrounded by people who are in my position- and if they are, we don’t talk about it. I feel we all come in, do our thing, punch out, then get the paycheck at the end of the month. And slowly,l that starts to discourage even the most motivated in us.
You come in with so many ideas and such great potential, then you see people doing their job just for the sake of working, and you slowly become unmotivated and the “great” ideas you have fade away because you listen to people complain the whole time. And even if you do try, you get shot down by the higher powers for some reason.
I can understand that some people have no desire to advance. They get a good paying job and they stay at it for as long as nothing happens. But I can never see myself be that kind of person. I have to work for a purpose- and if that purpose is gone, I begin questioning myself and everything I am doing.
I can also never be the kind of person that sees things being wrongly done and shut up about it.
Except that slowly changed to fit the whole nod and smile mentality. Why make trouble when you can just take on more work and smile through it? But that of course leads to the whole point of this post: you crash and burn, becoming more prone to making mistakes and questioning, and no one really takes notice of you until you mess up badly.
A piece of good advice on this whole subject that I got from my friend: if you’re doing your part of the work, you have the right to speak up about what’s bothering you. He then proceeded to remind me that I was always the team leader in college and that’s the version of me that everyone got used to.
And that made me smile and forget if the work I was doing was worth it, just for a little while.