10 Things I’ve Learned in a New Job
Last week I finished up the book, Share Your Stuff, I’ll Go First by Laura Tremaine. At the end of each chapter, she places a list of 10 things, most likely from her popular podcast, 10 Things to Tell You. I loved the concept of creating lists for all sorts of reasons. Normally, I am not much of a list-maker, but hers were fun and, frankly, a great practice in writing. Last week I was in the shower – where I do all of my best thinking – and hopped out to grab my phone and open the notes section to start jotting down the list that was formulating in my brain: 10 Things I’ve learned at O.Henry. I wanted to share it here today because I think it’s a really useful and fun journal exercise to make a list of 10 whatever-you-feel-likes!
Photos from last Friday morning, when a friend and I visited the midtown Greensboro murals. This one is my favorite because it really captures how I was actually feeling that morning. It had been a stressful week and I was thrilled to get out of the house and do something fun with a friend.
- You can start a sentence with “but.” And many of the rules you learned in middle school English don’t apply. Incomplete sentences, check. If it helps to create the impact and emotion of what you’re writing, you can break all the rules. Watch me.
- But em dashes – who knew? Where have these elusive little hyphen-like creatures been all of my life? If I taught middle school English – which could happen – I would have an entire semester dedicated to the art of em-dashing through life.
- There are places of employment that don’t expect – or even want – you to be just another part of an oiled machine, practicing sameness and routine, day in and day out. Which, frankly, is my idea of hell. Rolling a rock up a hill for all of eternity or endlessly folding a denim wall that customers keep destroying are one and the same. Not today, Satan.
- People actually think I’m funny. And I get paid for it. For so long, I’ve made my way through life laughing at my own jokes. The good: I can entertain myself for hours on end. The bad: I’m often the weird lady chuckling in a corner by herself. At least these days I can stick in ear buds and pretend I am laughing with someone on the other end. Even in my own home, I’ll repeat something hilarious to my husband Chris only to be met with a look of “is there a punchline?” That leads me into a downward spiral of thoughts like: Am I lacking a sense of humor? Or is Chris? It’s gotta be him. How did I get in this lack-laugh-luster marriage? OMG we’re going to wind up divorced over irreconcilable differences of opinion on what’s funny. And I’ll have to get back out in the dating world. And no one will find me funny. I will die alone, in a corner, chuckling to myself. My headstone will read: What’s so funny?
- Believe in magic. When I interviewed for this job and was presented with the question, “Why do you want to work here?” I answered honestly. The universe led me to O.Henry through a neighbor showing up in my driveway. I simply followed the signs and felt like they were leading me here and I had to answer the call. After I hung up from that Zoom interview, I kicked myself for telling it like it was. Luckily for me, my editor has faith in the cosmic woo. What I said could have easily landed me on the “NEVER interview again” list but instead it put me on the “gift from the universe” list. She trusted it. Whether I am still a gift remains unknown.
- Graciously accept gifts from the community. Especially when it’s homemade spice cake.
- You have a gift. And when you’re willing to place your humble brown-paper package of an offering under the tree amongst the sparkling and hospital-corner wrapped presents from others, that’s when the real magic happens. The company as a whole shines brighter and bolder when we all offer up the best of what we have without fear of it not being good enough.
- Who needs filters? Say what you think. Be honest with others and, mostly, be honest with yourself. When surrounded by lots of creative voices, it’s easy to want to emulate. But keep practicing with your own voice and trust that inner knowing that’s whispering for you to write your truth as only you can.
- Always say “thank you.” Never ever have I worked in an environment where everyone says “thank you” for the littlest gestures or emails. I’ve received calls from co-workers just to express their gratitude over something I did because, hello, it’s my job. And you know what? You can bet I won’t be going anywhere any time soon. Unless I get fired. OMG. Knocking on wood. Where was I? Oh yeah, thank you. (And please don’t fire me.) Those two words will create employee loyalty and they speak volumes about the kind of people who run this ship.
- Everyone has a story. And their own way to tell it. I’m still writing mine.