Last week, I started a new job.
Now, I am no stranger to the “first day of school.” In the restaurant industry, it was a miracle if I stayed at a place more than nine months due to burnout and boredom and other reasons (with the exception of my most recent restaurant—shout out to Crave Fishbar for such a wonderful environment for employees!)
But this? This is different. This is my first real 9-5 desk job (technically I worked at Random House as an intern in college but I don’t count that. I spent an entire summer basically reading).
I’m working in a law firm as a temporary marketing assistant until I go back to school. I am in uncharted waters. I have no idea what I’m doing.
I hate not knowing what I’m doing.
See, when I don’t have it all together, when I’m not fully in control of or don’t have full ownership of my role, self-doubt starts to creep in. Like a caustic acid, it eats away at any semblance of confidence I have. The termites of my mind gnaw at my mental supports until they start to collapse. I fall apart.
And I panic.
So there I was, in my second morning of orientation, happily chomping on a blueberry bagel, when the Trainer started talking “legalese.” And all of a sudden, I was completely lost.
Panic set in. Oh my god, I have no idea what she is talking about. I am going to suck at this job. Scratch that—I don’t think I can do this at all. I was caught in a complete and total panic spiral.
I called my boyfriend at my lunch break. I was practically (read: actually) crying on the phone, I was so consumed by my anxiety. “I don’t want to work at this job anymore,” I sniffled.
“Kristy. You know you can do this, right?”
I paused for a second. Did I?
A large part of me was skeptical at best. But a small, tiny voice within me whispered yes. And I reached for that voice with hungry hands and grabbed it and held it. I held it and stroked it and like a snuggly kitten, it settled in my lap and warmed my whole body. I took a breath and said “yeah.”
Just as suddenly as the storm started, it was over.
Because yes, I can do this. I couldn’t see myself through the anxiety-induced fog, so I had forgotten all of my strengths—my intelligence, my competence and, most importantly, my resilience. It took an outside perspective to remind me this time, but I hope that next time (because, let’s be honest, there WILL be a next time) maybe it won’t take so much persuading to remind me of who I am.
So, I’m a few days in and I still don’t have any clue as to what I’m doing. But hey—I’ll figure it out as I go.
I can do this.
Kristy Cloetingh is a Philadelphia native who is currently trying to figure out her place in the world. Her passions include reading, singing, dancing, nature, yoga, chicken fingers, and puppies. An anorexia survivor and mental health warrior, Kristy has made it her life’s mission to remind every single person that their bodies and minds are worthy of unconditional love and respect, regardless of size, shape, or whatever “normal” is.