Today marks one whole year since I started working full time. I’ve had jobs since I was 16, working in shops and cafe’s, but I’ve been in my first ‘adult job’ for 365 days. If you don’t know, I am a digital content editor for a health and fitness magazine.
I studied magazine journalism at university, so I couldn’t believe my luck when I was offered the role last October during my gap mooooonth around Europe. It was a dream come true and I was so excited to be heading in to London to work in the media.
However, just like anything in this life, it’s been a journey filled with highs and lows and most importantly, I’ve learned a fuck ton. Not only about myself, but about office politics, other people, and the media industry. So, today I’d like to spend a little time reflecting on what these 52 weeks have taught me.
Free time is precious
When I was younger, I really didn’t like the idea of ‘living for the weekend’ and I still don’t, but I understand where all the adults were coming from now. Having spent five years working weekends and evenings, going to school/university and socialising in my spare time, I had no idea the strain a 9-6 working day would have on me.
Getting up at 7 am and not getting home until 12 hours later can really take its toll on your routine and can make it nearly impossible to get all your life admin done alongside socialising and pursuing anything else that makes you happy (i.e. this blog). Being in an office for nine hours a day really helped me to appreciate and value the time I got to spend away from central London.
It’s also helped me to get really organised as I know I only have a limited slot to get everything done. God bless Trello.
Work friends don’t have to be real friends
I often get wrapped up in wanting to be friends with everyone. It’s not necessarily a needy thing (although it is), I just like to try and get on with everyone around me, but you’re not going to like everyone you work with and that’s okay.
I’ve also learned that just because you’re friends with people in your office, doesn’t mean you have to socialise outside of the office. Keeping your work life and life life separate is a really good idea if you want a healthy work/life balance. Constantly being around the people you work with can make it pretty difficult to ever switch off.
Breaks are essential
I’m fucking awful at this. When I used to work in retail, I would always make sure I got my break and that I took it for the complete hour, without missing a minute. Now? I happily sit at my desk from 9 am to 6 pm without taking any time to be away from my computer and it’s so bad for me.
When you sit at your computer for nine hours with no break, you not only start to get restless, but you start resenting your work and you’re 100% not working as efficiently as you think you are. Something I’ve been trying to do is go to the gym at lunch. Not only does it get me away from my desk for an hour, but it stops me looking at any screens or going back to my desk after like 10 minutes (v. guilty of that).
Also, no one will ever thank you for giving up your lunch break and you sure as hell ain’t getting that time back. So, whatever you do, take your fucking lunch break – yeah Amy.
Mental health can suffer
I didn’t even know how to be anxious until I started at this job. I’m not exactly sure what brought it on, but I found myself in constant fear that I would do something wrong and be asked to leave, forever. Because I worked so hard to get into the media/magazine industry, I let my mental health suffer as I desperately tried to cling on to it.
The weirdest thing, however, is that I’ve never been given a reason to believe that I was on the edge of being ousted, but it kept happening. In fact, it still happens, but after I let myself accept that the worse could happen, I stopped constantly worrying and allowed myself to be free of weekly anxiety attacks. Just remember, your job is never worth suffering for.
Being appreciated is underrated
I am a needy character and I thrive off of reassurance. Unfortunately, as you grow up and weekly catchups with your tutor become a thing of the past, it is difficult to adjust.
Constantly seeking praise and acceptance in the workplace is something I’m so guilty of, but I think people really underrate the importance of a ‘well done’ or ‘thanks for helping me’.
I spent the first six months of work not knowing if I had unreasonable expectations or if I wasn’t in the right environment. Turns out, it was a mix of both.
People are usually too busy to say thank you but I’ve learned to stop expecting a pat on the back every time I ticked something off on my to-do list.
Saying that, it’s not worth staying in a place that doesn’t respect or appreciate you. You should always feel like a valuable member of staff and the moment you don’t, it’s time to look elsewhere.
What has having an ‘adult job’ taught you? Let me know in the comments or @amyjmcdonnell 🐦