Let’s get this right out in the open:
There will be no space travel anytime soon, Internet.
Or, “Who are you again?”
But in my HEAD, I feel like you are staring at me – you know, in that surreptitious way, looking away quickly when I turn around, pretending you are staring into space and Thinking Deeply or waving at someone over my shoulder or engrossed in the details of the ceiling directly above my head – and wondering What Is Up.
So, whether you are wondering or not: there is nothing up.
On purpose. For an undetermined time period.
Well, because I got a new job.
It’s very exciting because it’s AWESOME. Seriously awesome. I’ll be writing, still, but for a non-profit. And it’s an organization that does work I feel passionate about and proud of. Everyone I’ve met is smart and dedicated and passionate, and I can see myself really making a difference, which is great. I feel positively giddy about the whole thing.
But I am, also, a little nervous.
You see, I haven’t started the job yet. (And of course, now that I’ve published this, I am a teeny bit worried that it will evaporate or I will find that it was All a Dream.) Anyway, I am not scheduled to start for a few days. So I am spending my free time thinking about how different it will be.
The biggest difference between this job and what I do now?
It is an Office Job.
Which means, I am sure you’ll understand, that I’ll be leaving my house each morning, and driving to an office, where I will stay – in the office – with other people – multiple other people – for hours at a time, day after day.
One of the big reasons I first considered this job – apart from the fact that it just seemed like too good an opportunity to miss – was that I need to be around people more often.
I love the work I’ve been doing for the past seven years. But… Seven years is a long time to be cooped up in a house by one’s self.
Being able to do my work from anywhere in the world has been a fabulous gift. Most importantly, it’s allowed me to maintain steady income despite the impermanence of my husband’s training.
But now that we’re staying in this lovely city, it’s time for me to put down roots. Not just by buying a house… Not just by trying to make friends… But by becoming an active, contributing member of our community. And taking an Office Job is a good way to do that.
(I know you didn’t ask me to justify why I am switching jobs. I guess I just feel a little sad to be leaving this part of my life behind. Excited, of course, but a little sad.)
So – to circle back (I seem to do a lot circling back, don’t I? I suppose that means I do too much circling away. Perhaps I need to hire some sort of tangent sheepdog to keep me in line.) – one of the reasons I’m so excited about this new venture is that I’ll get to interact with real, live people every day.
But… I’m also a teensy bit scared.
Not of the job or the people. But of no longer working from home.
Because I’ve never really HAD an Office Job before, Internet.
Sure, I worked in a doctor’s office a couple of summers. But it was my DAD’S office, so I’m sure that’s a different experience than most people have.
Then I worked for three months in a ministry, which wasn’t technically an Office Job because a) it was in the basement of a church and b) there was no real sitting and officeing – just mostly working one-on-one with the clients we served or the volunteers who gave their time. (I don’t know – maybe that DOES count as an Office Job? I am realizing that perhaps my understanding of what constitutes an Office Job comes from unreliable sources, like The Office.)
Then I worked for another summer in the marketing department of a big company. So I guess THAT was an Office Job.
But the thing is, that last one there? The most recent Office Job experience? That was in 2003.
So I am WAY out of practice.
This is where you come in, Internet!
I need you to tell me what to expect from Working in an Office. The Dos and Don’ts, if you will.
When I’ve visited clients, I’ve had to do SOME work in an office.
And it always seems so awkward to me.
Simple things… Like, do I send an instant message or an email to the Marketing Manager? If I were at home, I WOULD do that… but now she’s only three feet from me, so it seems weird and unnecessary.
But then again… the alternative is to either get up from my desk and go over to hers (is that okay?) or to speak to her out loud, where the whole office can hear.
Neither of those things seems better. They seem kind of… interruptive.
And what if two people are talking near me?
When that’s happened at a client’s office, I just tune it out. But frequently, I’ll then find out that someone was trying to bring me into the conversation, and now he’s mocking me because I am so focused that my ears don’t work.
But if I try to be constantly aware of what’s going on, well… that’s exhausting and sort of hampers my productivity.
So what’s the ideal way to deal with people when you’re all smushed together in the same space?
Here at home, I make whatever I want for lunch. Wedge salads. Stir fry. Tacos. Nachos. Whatever sounds good, or whatever I can heat up from last night’s dinner.
When I go visit clients, I either go out to lunch with a few of the staff members… or I pop out to a nearby restaurant and bring something back.
But I live too far from the office to come home every day. And eating out obviously isn’t doable every day.
Also, I don’t want to be That Girl who brings something stinky and grosses out the whole office.
Also also, I am picky, so it’s hard for me to make lunch on a good day, when I have my whole refrigerator at my fingertips.
So… what does one bring for lunch when one works in An Office?
(I have spent a LOT of time thinking about this, Internet.) (I am being 100% serious.)
And while we’re on food… I am pretty accustomed to being able to go to the fridge and grab something at any time. Twenty times a day if I choose!
But I’m guessing employers/coworkers frown on that in an office setting?
Can I bring some almonds and an apple and a granola bar to snack on throughout the day? Or is constant munching going to lead to a Weird New Girl label?
And what about the bathroom?
I drink a lot of water, Internet. Is there, like, a bathroom trip limit I need to be aware of?
What if there are other people in there? I don’t think I can do inter-stall conversation. I really don’t think I have it in me.
Is there REALLY a water cooler, and do people ACTUALLY discuss things around it?
Basically, I’ve figured out that I should probably wear some real clothes instead of yoga pants and a tank top. But other than that, I really don’t know what to expect.
So if you have ANY TIPS about Successfully Working in an Office, I would love to hear them!