Why I'm Glad I Started My First Job Young

Learning on the Job: Why I’m Glad I Entered the Workforce as a Newbie

I was ill-equipped and unprepared, but that's why I'm glad I started when I did.

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When I was 21 years old, I graduated with a B.A. in English literature, with a minor in journalism. I was as green as they come, with a new engagement ring on my finger. While I was walking across the stage to accept my diploma, the rest of my friends were back our shared townhome, cramming for exams. You see, I graduated in only three years, in a mad rush to begin life on my own as quickly as possible. My then-fiance was a year ahead of me in school, so I took on extra course loads and attended summer school twice so we could graduate at the same time. It was a challenging and overwhelming season of life in so many ways, but looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.

Before I graduated, I'd already secured a job with a government defense contractor back home. It wasn't a glamorous position by any means, but it meant a steady income and the chance to hone my craft. The only issue? I didn't exactly know what my craft was. I knew I loved literature, but my speech impediment and general anxiety prevented me from following a traditional teaching career path. I also knew that while I enjoyed writing, the feast-or-famine nature of being a full-time writer wasn't attractive either. So, I compromised, found a position as Technical Writer 3 at the firm, and went to work.

I showed up on the first day dressed in my favorite vintage sundress. I sat through meetings, checked emails and attended training, all the while wondering what in the world I was doing. The technical jargon was foreign to me, the people, albeit kind, were way more advanced than I was, and I was beginning to doubt my competence and ability to perform. And, this was all before lunchtime.

I don't think a day went by during that initial month when I didn't find solace and solitude in the bathroom for a few minutes each morning, gathering my thoughts and my composure so I could appear at least somewhat put-together. I drove home every day defeated, wondering if I'd made a mistake by jumping headfirst into a career I knew nothing about. I was used to studying Chaucer and Shakespeare. I wasn't cut out for translating engineers, creating proposals and editing technical manuals.

Then, something somewhat miraculous and completely unexpected happened. I started to get the hang of it. I grew in confidence and responsibility and before I knew it, I was managing and training two technical writer interns who wanted to learn from me. The concept was laughable, but I was up to the challenge.

That was 10 years ago. The connections I made at that first job, the skills I developed and the people I worked alongside all worked together to carry me through my next series of professional endeavors. I stayed on as a technical writer for that same firm for close to seven years. Then, I had my first child and left to pursue a freelance marketing gig that would afford me the opportunity to stay at home with my new baby.

The hours were unnatural, as I would start on my work around 10:00 p.m. when she went down for the night. I'd work until 2:00 a.m., feed her, then catch a few hours of sleep myself before we both woke up and the cycle began all over again. I was walking through those first few months very much like a zombie, not sure if the sunlight peeking through the blinds meant it was dawn or dusk. I was in over my head, challenged to the hilt and unsure if I was doing any of it, both my professional and parenting work, correctly. I'm sure when I was just starting out, I made many of the novice marketing mistakes that we're told time and again are things to avoid. It wasn't that I was ill-trained for the job. Rather, I was slowly navigating my way through a new path, and learning its intricacies and idiosyncrasies along the way.

In many ways, this season of life wasn't dissimilar to the one I experienced when I first dipped my toes in the corporate waters. I had a few more years on me now and I'd grown in my confidence both as a person and an employee, but I was still miles away from knowing all there was to know.

That's the beauty of it, though. I'll never catch up. I'll never reach that capacity where I've learned all there is to learn or completely aced every challenge thrown my way. My children are two and five now, and I'm still discovering new surprises about the way I manage my time, prioritize, step up to the plate and pursue new opportunities. There are many days when I still feel like that same 21-year-old in a thrifted sundress, my hand shaking as I reached up to ring the bell at the towering office building.

I hope I never lose that sense of being overwhelmed. I hope I never reach the point where challenges don't scare me or I don't feel at least a little out of my comfort zone. I believe that's where real life happens and where real growth occurs. We'll fail time and again and make more mistakes than we'd like. But there's something to be said about showing up anyway. About pushing through the murk with the knowledge that something greater is on the horizon. I'm actively in pursuit of that progress and I'm grateful every day that I said "yes" to the first job offer that came my way. Was I ill-prepared and unequipped? Certainly. Are those the very elements that propelled me to expand my potential? Absolutely.

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My Dad Is And Always Has Been My Side-kick Hero

Have you seen your dad put someone in a headlock?

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Since Father's Day passed, I have thought a lot about my relationship with my dad and how much it has changed over the years. Even though I would say we have a great relationship now, it hasn't always been like that. When I was in my younger teen years, I wasn't always the nicest kid, especially to him but as the years progressed I've realized how lucky I am to have such a loving father.

One of the oldest memories that I have about my dad happened when I was around five or six. We were living in a community that had a pool so my dad would take us there after he got home from work. One day, he took me to the pool alone. Since I was in swim lessons at the time I thought it would be fun to jump into the deep end of the pool, which was around nine feet. However, as soon as I jumped into the deep end, I started to panic. I was thrashing around in the water when my dad jumped in and swam me over to the side of the pool. My dad saving me from almost drowning has made me always feel safe in his presence.

In another water-related incident, when I was around seven or eight, he also saved me after our jet ski flipped in the middle of the sound. He was driving me and one of my friends around when I started to slip off of the jet ski. He reached out to grab me, which ultimately lead to the entire jet ski to be flipped over. I distinctly remember how panicked I was just floating in the water. Yet again, my dad's presence beside me was what made me calm down and feel safe, even in the open water.

My dad happens to own a restaurant in Fife, Washington called Louie G's Pizza. I have worked there since he bought the restaurant, which has been a blessing. However, part of the responsibility of owning a restaurant/live music venue like Louie G's is dealing with drunk people. There have been times when I'm working, where I have felt uncomfortable because of drunk costumers, but I always know that my dad is around the corner just in case anything happens. I have watched my dad throw people out of the restaurant for being inappropriate towards staff or other costumes. I even watched him put a guy in a headlock once after he tried to punch another customer.

Being in college has made me miss my dad, terribly. I try to call him as often as I can, which is usually every day. I'm so happy that a day like Father's Day exists just to celebrate people like my dad. Even when I wasn't the nicest to him, he still loved me unconditionally. So here's to all the fantastically Fathers who love their children with their whole heart.

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The Beauty of Releasing Anxiety Over the Future

What you learn when you learn you don't need to know it all

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I come from a long line of women who worry. We stay up late at night wondering if we got it all right that day. We stress over the details and sweat the small stuff more than we should. Surprisingly, for the amount they fret, my sister and mother are the epitome of calm. They're collected and graceful, whereas I'm a constant bundle of nerves wound tighter than a brand-new yo-yo.

This year, however, I resolved to change all of that. I determined that 2019 would be the year I released all the anxiety and fears around the future. It would be the year I stopped concerning myself with matters of tomorrow and focused instead on the beauty and blessing of today. We're only six days into this new year, but I have already felt that gigantic weight lifted. Why, you might ask, did I choose this particular year? I will turn 32 this April and I've had plenty of turns around the sun to think about getting it right. I've had time to relax, time to recharge and time to start anew.

So, why this year? Put simply, I can tell this is going to be one unlike any other. We're moving out of our home in the next few months, in preparation to begin an enormous remodel project on a nearby family home. As we do so, we're going to be living with my in-laws, our oldest starts kindergarten in the fall, and we're both planning to ramp up our careers by taking on new challenges.

In short, I could easily approach these new obstacles with a jittery heart and nerves that are shot before the day even begins. Yet, each day has its own struggles and if I were to look at this year as a whole, I'd be overwhelmed by the extent of it all. Between school, sports, work and this project, there is no shortage of concerns to worry over, issues to fret about and worries to wonder on. It is for this very reason that I'm stepping out on faith and giving the headaches over, relinquishing the lock-tight control I once held over my own day-to-day chaos.

The thing is, I can see where it's all going. I can already see our dream home that will sit on the lot behind the cornfield. There are two creeks on the property, a sod field in the back, and Japanese cherry blossom trees that I can't wait to watch come alive this spring. I have dreams of eating popsicles on the back deck while the sun goes down in the summertime and I can see the kids running in the huge, open front yard, the one that takes us 10 minutes or more to walk up and down the driveway. I can see the measures we are taking to make the home as energy-efficient as possible paying off with lower power bills. I know the garden we plant in two years will be our biggest and best yet.

I know this will be the home my children remember growing up in. We'll take prom pictures here and first dates will end on the front stoop. Still, the process of getting there, of going home, is a long and laborious one and I could easily crawl under the covers and seek to escape from it all if I think about it for too long.

Instead, I'm getting up early in the mornings these days. I'm having quiet time to reflect and recharge my faith. I'm reading more text and devouring fewer screens. I'm taking more walks (another resolution) and spending at least a little bit of time in nature every day. I'm looking my children in the eye when they speak to me rather than rushing by them on my way to the next, more important thing. I'm making a gratitude list at the end of every day with five things that blessed and inspired me. I'm going to bed earlier and sleeping more deeply, my heart fuller than it's ever been.

I'm releasing my ambition to plan every day to a tee. I'm letting life happen and enjoying the ride of letting go.

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