For just over a year, I worked a basic 9 to 5 office job for one of the county’s biggest building societies. It was an eye-opening experience for me, not only because I learned to grow up and actually adult at life, but I also found that I had changed quite a lot, and for the better. I’ve always been a reserved person, but working in a large team of people, surrounded by hundreds of others, I have realised growing up isn’t the worst thing in the world.
#1 I developed a thicker skin
Naturally, I’m a very sensitive person, sometimes I don’t take well to criticism and there have been times in my life where I have just cried because things aren’t going my way. Well, that’s exactly what happened at my office job. It was my first real job and I cried almost every day for about three weeks. However, as time passed, I began to notice a change. As much as I hated my job and my manager hated me, I really didn’t care. Insults and digs didn’t bother me anymore and that has stayed with me today.
#2 Businesses aren’t all fair and proper
When I first started working, I was absolutely horrified at the way some people behaved. But I figured they would be punished or disciplined for their actions that were clearly against the rules set out to me on my first day. Well, it was quite the contrary. In fact, the managers were worse than the employees and for a company that deals with the finances and mortgages of other people, it didn’t sit well with me. It’s surprising to see how some of the biggest establishments in the country are not as pristine as they make out.
#3 Not everyone is going to like me
Not that I assume everyone I meet is going to fall in love with me and want to be my best friend, but I figured the human thing to do is be civil with the people you work with. Well, a whole year in employment taught me otherwise. In the office I worked in, if you didn’t like or get alone with someone, you made it clear. My manager wasn’t my biggest fan and this affected my colleagues’ view of me as well. I got to a point where I finally accepted, not everyone is nice, and not everyone will love me.
#4 It’s okay to cry if you feel sad
As mentioned, I can be very sensitive so it’s not hard to get me to cry. However, I always felt bad for stressing out about my job and crying at work. Part of me wondered why no one else seemed as awkward as me. Of course, anxiety played an enormous role is my attitude to the job, but I was in a toxic environment for a year – it’s normal to feel down about it. Towards the end of the job, I just learned to get on with it, but this is a lesson it took me a while to get used to. And if I’m sad, yeah I’ll cry!
#5 Stand up for yourself!
Because I’m such a shy person, I just tend to adhere to authority, and as this 9 to 5 was my first job so I didn’t really know any better. My manager wasn’t the nicest person on Earth and often found that she was handing me jobs that were way out of my job description. This happens from time to time, and I’m happy to do it when needed, but cleaning a storage cupboard all day and refusing to give me any work when there is work to be done is a step too far. And so, one day I decided to say something and stand up! This made no difference In her attitude, but I feel much better than before.
#6 There’s always a positive
There have been many times in my life when all seems to be going wrong and there’s no up. However, working in full time employment has helped me to learn that bad days have a positive, even if I can’t see it until a week or a month later. It’s totally normal to feel down, but it’s really important to remember not to stay down. No matter how horrific a working situation got, I always forced myself to remember: “you can only go up from here”.
#7 I find motivating myself easy
After working somewhere I called “hell” for a year, I have no problem doing many of the jobs I do today. For example, there are days where I really don’t want to blog – I just want to lay in bed at watch Parks & Rec all day while stuffing my face with mini marshmallows. Similarly, I currently work for two amazing charities, Clothing Solutions and Beaneezy (please give the Facebook pages a like if you can!), and sometimes don’t feel up to doing all the reporting and finance stuff, but then I remember: would I rather be here or at my old job? And now I have no problem motivating myself!
#8 It makes a great horror story
Telling people about my experience always leaves them with horrified expressions on their faces. I get the “how on Earth did you stay there for a year?!” question which always makes me laugh. In a way, I guess it’s like a (very weak) survivor story and because of my experience I feel like a much stronger person today. I’m able to face most challenges head on and prepare for the worst, rather than shrivel up in fear every time.
#9 My skills were refined
I’m quite the introvert so putting myself out there isn’t the easiest thing in the world. While working at the building society, I learned to improve my conversation and social skills because I spoke to so many different people every day. Working on a computer each day also helped me improve those skills, from touch typing to using keyboard shortcuts. I no longer work in customer services, but working in an investment department and talking to customers frequently gave me the confidence to speak to more people – a valuable skill!
#10 Hello confidence!
Before starting the job in Leeds, I was incredibly shy, awkward and weird around people I don’t know. Nowadays, I’m still the same shy weirdo but I don’t freak out or panic as much in a public situation. If someone talks to me, I don’t say the first thin my brain thinks of, I’m able to respond like a human and that shows an increase in confidence for me. Despite not being at a place where I can rock up to a photoshoot and pose like the next Tyra, I’m a lot more confident taking photos in public and speaking to new people.
#11 I have a sense of ambition
I never thought of myself as an ambitious person. Honestly, I can be very lazy and occasionally find it difficult to get motivated. While working in the building society office, I learned I didn’t like my job. I just wasn’t enjoying any aspect at all, and didn’t look forward to each day. I know it’s normal for people to hate their jobs, but most the people in the office just stayed because they couldn’t be bothered to job hunt. On the other hand, I was the complete opposite – I hunted for jobs every single day and applied for hundreds, so maybe I do have the potential to strive for more.
#12 I know how to use public transport/navigate rush hour
This is something I would have never known how to do unless I experienced it. If I went to London, I wouldn’t be as fearful of using a busy underground or bus station because I have experience using Leeds’ transport during the busiest hours of the day. When I first started, I didn’t know up from down; but towards the end, I turned into an employed zombie like many of the other strangers in suits, tutting at those who can’t swipe their travel card properly and hold up the queue. It’s a good understanding to have!