Being the new girl is always a tough role. In anything. Even if the job is a peach, something you wanted very badly and are dead proud you got, it’s still tough being the new girl. You know from your first arrival that you are being judged. And it’s not because your new colleagues are hardball meanies fixing you with a laser glare from their all-seeing eyes. They’re nice. They’re not the problem. You’re the problem, to yourself.
It’s because being new and feeling new, you see yourself in a new light, you see everything you do tinged with that ‘newness’, see yourself afresh from their perspective. And it makes you worry you’re a complete lummox. Even though you got the job over lots of other people. Even though everyone is being completely lovely to you. Even though you’re learning what you need to learn. Even though you haven’t burnt the building down or erased all the files on the shared drive or accidentally called someone’s family portrait “hilarious” to be met by stoney silence. Even though you’re already making office jokes and you’re all hooting like sisters and brothers. You still fear you’re a massive idiot.
And you absolutely should. You should think you’re an idiot. You are an idiot. We’re all idiots.
I think it’s perfectly healthy to start a new job clawing at your skin with self-loathing. To reduce yourself to a base starting point and soar slowly and quietly from there. Because who wants to employ someone who comes jogging into the office on Day One like Rocky, punching the air. Who wants someone from Glengarry Glenn Ross shouting can-do phrases into your face? Who really wants someone approaching their desk with a post-it note accompanied by a Beyoncé hair flick and a butt-thrust of At-Tit-Ood? I don’t want that. Do you want that? (Maybe I do want it. Wednesdays get very boring as a rule. Maybe you do need that.)
Anyway. You see what I mean. There is doubt in all corners of being ourselves, and being the new girl or boy is when we are hardest on ourselves because we want to be so awesome at everything, instantly, and we can’t. Because we are new. We go back to our first day at nursery, where we want to suck on a rusk and have an afternoon nap because all this learning is so sleepy-making. To our first day at junior school where we are too afraid to ask to borrow a pencil sharpener. To our first day at senior school where you look up at all the big boys and girls and see them floating along with total self-ease, not knowing that they have lots of doubts coursing through them too. It’s the first day at youth club, or Brownies or Scouts, or Uni. It is when we arrive at something and say to people we don’t know “Hullo. Erm. This is…me.”
We should always be new at something. And there is always something to be new at. That’s a bit exciting isn’t it? Despite the fact we put ourselves through a harrowing psychological obstacle course of our own fashioning, it is still wonderful to be new. To learn new things. To not be top dog but know that hard work makes it possible to get better, to succeed and climb.
I have got a new job. I love my new job. I love my new colleagues. I love what we do and why. I love the building I work in, and I have made my desk pretty. I know where all the important things are, like the fire exits and the kettle and the stationery. I think I’ll be good at this job, when I’ve learned all the new stuff and got smooth at shifting all the gears. I may even start sashaying around with a Beyoncé butt of power, just to liven up Wednesdays. And for now I am going to try and enjoy the exhilarating discomfort of being new.