The First Day of Office in a Foreign Land
Have you ever dreaded going somewhere? I dread going to new places. At the age of 29, I found myself in a recruitment company. It was my first ever job where I was to start as Internal Communication Executive.
I had already had two sleepless nights wondering whether I would stick to this job or will quit on the first day as I did in my previous three jobs. I was very young when I joined the first ever company and I just didn’t like being an adult. That’s what I remember telling my dad when he asked me why I quit. I remember telling him that I wasn’t ready to be an adult, he smiled and we never spoke about that experience again. For the next jobs, my excuse was that they were way too far from home; I think that was my excuse, I think that was my excuse if I remember correctly. The fact was that I just didn’t like being out of my comfort zone, where I wasn’t the princess who could throw tantrums, as I did at home. I was just another employee who had no special rights or leverages and that was more than enough for me to resent the whole process of working for someone.
Although it was a tough record to break, I mean I was a 29 years old who had never ever worked in life and had quit three jobs on the very first day. Anything was possible in my case. I knew I’d walk out of this one too if I did not get the right vibes but I also knew that I was finally ready to be an adult.
Picking out clothes for the first day at a new place is a task in itself. You do not want anything that is too bold or too boring at the same time. Finding that perfect outfit that defines you and presents the right image for you is an ordeal but I think I nailed it.
The first day at any new place is always a bit awkward, clumsy and I would say even pretentious to a great extent. I reached the office building a bit too early because I did not want to be late and I was politely guided to my seat by the operations head of the company as he was the only one there when I reached. He was surprised that I was in so early. I said I didn’t want to be late and he just gave me that look that said that doesn’t mean you have to be in that early.
Gradually people started coming in and I saw my direct manager giving me a huge grin. After that, I saw a familiar face. No, I did not know her but she was a girl of Indian origin and we had exchanged a few polite messages before I joined. She walked right up to me to say welcome and also to make sure that I was comfortable. She also admired the dress I was wearing and asked me where I bought it from and that moment I knew I had banged the first-day look.
Starting a new job is difficult but it can be frightening when you are abroad and you start working in a place where you are the person of color. Gradually everyone was in and I was introduced to all. I was to be trained by a guy who was I guess just 5 feet tall or maybe less but a thorough gentleman, a great soul, and a complete clown. In my view, he was the life of that small office. I was introduced to the other members of my team with acute details. There was one name I kept hearing but that person was on maternity leave. I wondered what was so special about this person who was there despite being physically absent. But I brushed off that feeling that made me feel wary about her, who apparently had some personal connections too with someone in the company. Isn’t it that classic case? We often hear such stories where people link someone with someone without knowing the facts behind any story. Anyway, my day was going just fine. People were fairly nice and got on with their work after talking to me for a bit.
At lunch time, that girl with India origin took me to the canteen with her where I felt like people were staring. I for a moment wondered if I was actually in England. I was quite used to people staring but it was my first in England but then I realized it wasn’t because I was a woman but because I was not as white as them. Some smiled faintly and some were over congenial, nevertheless, they all had clean intent to know the new prisoner of this cage called ‘office life’.
The day was spent getting to know the processes and also the people. Throughout the day they were struggling to pronounce my name right and eventually they came with their own version of my name. It took me some time to get used to this name but I was accustomed to it by the time the clock his 5.
It wasn’t so bad after all and I had not quit, in fact, I was looking forward to the next day as I had had too much fun. Mostly because of that short bundle of fun who was training me. That day I realized one thing that things are as scary as we make them in our head. After all, it was just another day but the first day of my life that I spent working as a normal adult and had fun while working which was the more shocking element of my day for me.