Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hi, I'm New Here.

The last time I waited this long to write a new blog post was three years ago when I wrote a story about finding Carrots in a pot that were grown by my dad.

At that time, the subject matter was so visceral and raw... so personal and poignant... that I had difficulty mustering up the confidence to upload a photo, put fingertips to keyboard, edit, click Publish and reveal my exposed nerve endings to strangers on the Internet.

It took me such a long time – weeks, months – to get to a place where I could sum up my feelings about what was going on. But all along I had the image and the title (a photo of my dad's carrots and the title of "Carrots") in my head, ready to go.

Well, the same has been true for me during my writing hiatus this summer and fall. The above image is a little cartoon I drew in my journal while flying on a little jet to Rapid City, South Dakota back in June. The only time I genuinely write in my journal is when I am on airplanes, and for that trip I was really into it because I had not been on a flight for quite some time.

The reason for my lack of flying on airplanes was that, for the first time in six years, I had a new job.

This week was my four-month-mark at my new job. It was on October 11th. I knew that was going to be the actual date because three months prior I had been sitting at my new desk at 7:00 PM on a weeknight, looking at a calendar and hoping that I would not feel so lost by the time I had been working for four months instead of just three weeks.

I love my new job. I love the people, I love the culture, I love the fact that mixed-up-old-me finally made it into advertising at a prestigious agency.  

But despite loving all these facets of my new work life, the transition has been a personal struggle. At a time in my life when I just want to be seasoned, I'm fricking new again.

Anything new in life is exhausting. It is exhilarating, it is terrifying. You name it, and that new life experience is a paradox of fun and fear:
  • Making out 
  • Driving a car
  • Getting drunk
  • Getting a 'D' on a test (this didn't happen to me until college - Interpersonal Communication. Freshman Year. Sorry, Professor Caudhill.)
  • Getting married
  • Buying a house
  • Having a baby
During the same week that I started in advertising, my boyfriend and I moved into a condo. There was a transition between moving from my apartment to the condo when we slept on a couch in an empty room with three outfits hanging in our closet. It was incredibly sparse, to the point that my new empty office cube felt more homey than my hollowed-out apartment.

One of the hardest things about being new in a job is being unknown. Nobody knows you are funny or that you do good impersonations. No one (seems) to know that your last name is spelled with an "SEN" instead of an "SON" because you are Norwegian.

For the first few weeks, I kept thinking about my old job, like a lost relationship. 

I would go on my old company website and see if I could discern where my former colleagues might be traveling. At my new job, I would tell stories about traveling to Russia, China, India, and Brazil, hoping to show my new co-workers that even though I had no idea what I was doing in this new job, I had a certain sense of mastery at my previous place of employment. Fortunately, those former co-workers are still my good friends, and if I want to know where they are traveling nowadays, I can simply ask them at our monthly happy hour.

I think that all of us can benefit from the experience of going from big-fish-in-small-pond to little-fish-in-big-pond intermittently throughout our lives. Even though I am still very new at this job, I can already smile at a few stupid occurrences from when I was even newer.

I've kept it no secret that I was proud of my Delta Diamond status when I achieved it back in 2010/2011. It seriously was the same type of achievement for me that some might feel for completing a masters degree or buying a new house. I was just so impressed with myself for having flown all over the world like that and I got kinda cocky about it. MAN was I in for a rude awakening when I got to a new career where I would be flying on multiple airlines for business travel.

Back in July, I had a flight on United or US Airways (I actually cannot remember which airline), and, having zero status, much less even familiarity of the check-in system, I was a total idiot at Minneapolis International Airport. I was late for my flight to Colorado, and at one point, I SWEAR I heard a woman's voice on the loud speaker say, "If you are on the 8:18 flight to Denver, please raise your hand." So I raised my hand, right in the busy main floor of the airport. People started looking at me. I even muttered under my breath, "But she said to raise your hand."

To top it off, I sat in the last seat in the last row of the aircraft – O, how the mighty had fallen from First Class on Delta. 

I was on my way to a rural farm in South Dakota. I very much enjoy my new industry, which is in agriculture, but this means that I am usually traveling to small towns where we are literally hundreds of miles from a Westin or a W Starwood hotel property.

That night I stayed in a Super 8 motel. 

It was during our intolerably hot summer, so I was grateful for the air conditioner pumping in an icy breeze. But as I rose from my bed at 5AM in the morning to head to the farm, and I made some instant coffee to fill my Super 8 styrofoam cup... I started to miss my old boss. It was at that moment that I just wanted to call her, tell her about my travel experience, and thank her for the amazing opportunities I had to see the world through her business.

For a moment, I was homesick for my old job.

I was worksick.

In the time since, my advertising agency has been one of the most gracious, welcoming places I could ask for. It puts on live music concerts, celebrates the Olympics by letting us be in (our own) Olympics, and frequently serves impromptu all-agency hot breakfasts just because. I feel lucky to be working with so many smart, fresh, dynamic people in an environment where joking around and occasionally swearing (for emphasis) is completely accepted in a large presentation.

I have books and books stacked up on my desk with the promise of knowledge on Advertising, Account Planning, Agriculture, and Stress Management, and I always intend to read these during my "free time." But truthfully, I am often kind of a zombie on the weekends. During the work week, the happy hours are more frequent and the pace is much faster in this new world for a thirthysomething like me.

I meet a lot of super-scary-smart Millennials in my work and I am sure I sound like a broken record when I try to remind them of how lucky we are to work on what we get to work on. I think they know this, too, but again, maybe they are just so digitally smart that they cannot stay at the same pace as the rest of us. I learn so much from them and I hope they sometimes learn from me, too.

The one thing that I've learned from being new again is that, wherever you work, it's a big fricking part of your life. It is OK if you do not like what you do, but you better have some aspect, be it your colleagues, your office, your drive to work, your handsome paycheck, that keeps you feeling alright in the world.

I am not one of those people who would say, "I HAVE NEVER WORKED A DAY IN MY LIFE BECAUSE I LOVE WHAT I DO." I just honestly think that for a dysfunctional being such as myself, the only way I could say that would be if I created art everyday and it made people happy. Maybe someday. But, my point is, even though I don't have that perma-happy work mentality, I do have deep gratitude for meaningful employment.

Incidentally, I had to sign a piece of paper saying something about my behavior on Social Media and what I will and won't say, and that is half the reason I have been too stuck to write a blog post. So, my challenge will be to continue to find ways to be honest and real to myself and to you.

It is the only reason I write... To make sense of life and to try to convince you that we all go through the same experiences... Just in different bodies, with different titles, different names, and different business cards.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back Ms. Andersen. Oh, how I've missed your posts!!