If you are reading this and you are in your first job out of school—things are going to happen that you are not prepared to deal with. We don’t prepare you for this, and we need to so you have tools at your disposal when stuff gets weird. I’m working on this one..for now I just have my little blog below.
I have a lot of stories, and I know better than to publicly blog about them. I don’t have regrets, but I do have some hard lessons learned. I hope you don’t make some of the mistakes that I did, but if you do–let them make you stronger. Here are some of my tips. Share yours in the comments section below.
1. It’s not worth it. If someone does cross the line–in a major way–you need to stand up for yourself. But sometimes we take small stuff personally. Whatever you are upset about right now is a small in the scheme of things. Learn to breathe deep, take some space and let it go. Learn to back down. Learn to walk away. You will be the bigger person in the end. Sometimes it’s just better to walk away–that means find a new company, new colleagues or new business contacts. Starting over is better than fighting over scraps.
2. Learn to close one eye. Sometimes you need to learn how to close one eye when you see things at work that you don’t like–or qualities in people that you find unattractive. This kind of sucks, and you should make sure you have friends you can meet up with after work–you two can grab Pinot Grigios and laugh about how the real world is so crazy–you can’t even make this stuff up. Whatever you do don’t gossip at work and don’t fight with people. Get yourself a supportive, hilarious, accepting group of girlfriends. Laugh it off. Cry it off. Then go back to work the next day and keep it in til you see them again. Every woman needs good girlfriends. And don’t get rid of them when you get a boyfriend.
3. Men. Do not confuse your relationships with older men. There will be men that are mentors, and there will be men that are not mentors. Some of them are in unhappy marriages. Have compassion, but stay away. If you find you have what is known as “older daddy issues” don’t worry about it–but get a therapist. Don’t let unresolved childhood stuff ruin your professional life. If you didn’t notice this in Mad Men and countless tv and movies, older men like younger women. Young women tend to seem/be naive. That doesn’t mean you need to engage in that trend. Become known for your mind and your work, not for being flirty or short skirts and high heels. There is no shame in needing a male figure in your life, but do not confuse your needs, and under no circumstances should you date your boss (I never did this, but I feel compelled to remind you not to do it).
When you learn to ignore what you don’t like, you’ll find yourself attracting more people that inspire you and make you light up. As you progress in your career you will find more people who share your values. At the same time manage your expectations of other people. Don’t idolize people just because of their titles. Respect their knowledge but understand they are human too.
When you see the way people behave, let it go, have compassion. Forgive but don’t forget. You can always leave and join someone else’s camp or even build your own camp. Who wants to write a guidebook with me for Peggy Olsen?