I’ve done it. I’ve been employed by a real company long enough that I can now leave it, and work for a new, also real company.
During this tenure, I like to think I’ve wizened up a bit. I mean, I must have, right? No, seriously, I must have, ask my mom — she needs it to happen.
My biggest lessons, thus far:
1. Though I once likened it to Greek mythology…it turns out bank account balances can have more than three digits.
2. Except for right after you move to New York, find an apartment, grocery shop once and buy an unlimited metro pass…then three digits returns to a seemingly impossible luxury.
3. It takes a while to figure out exactly what time you need to wake up in the morning, but once you have, you’ll get up at that precise moment every.single.day. Never will you stray from this minute. For me, 22 minutes is perfect. 22, not 21. 21 is a crisis.
4. It is possible to simultaneously love and loathe free time. I love it because it’s rare and I’m tired and my computer crashed this week so I’m behind on emails and I’ve got that fahhhreaking presentation later and what I really need [NEED!] to do is take a minute and find myself in a mug/pot of coffee on the couch. But then I loathe it because…wtf do you do with it? How was I never bored in undergrad? So much free time. I think I actually transcended the space-time continuum with the amount of unobstructed, obligation-free time I had — especially that one afternoon when I made 100 homemade, vegan, almond joys.
5. There is NO gossip like work gossip. I mean, you heard what she said, right?
6. Just because you are gainfully employed does not mean you suddenly acquire the other necessary skills of adulthood, like the Ability to File Taxes or the Ability to Understand Your Credit Score.
7. Friday afternoon from 4:00-5:00pm is often more fun than anything you do over the weekend. The anticipation. The stolen glances at the clock. The way the 45-year-old down the hall plays the Best of the 80′s radio on Spotify…it’s a magical combination and the closest thing we get to Christmas morning as adults [are we calling ourselves that now? are we?].
8. When you spend eight hours a day less than ten steps from an unlimited source of free coffee, it only takes a few weeks before you’re a shade or two shy of meth addiction.
9. It doesn’t matter how many times your bosses, parents, or bank tellers urge you to start putting money away for retirement, it still feels like you’re lighting a significant portion of your paycheck on fire.
10. oh TAXES. I get it now.
11. Sometimes, you want to define yourself by what you do from 9-5: “I tend gardens, therefore I am a gardener.” Yes, you are a great gardener [go you!], but you’re so much more than that! You may also find your self-worth becoming inextricably tied to your salary. It’s important to remember, should this begin happening to you, to smack yourself clear across your face. Twice, for good measure.
12. When in doubt, shut your mouth. Shut.your.mouth.
13. For sheer, unadulterated adrenaline, replacing one of those enormous Poland Springs water jugs has to be right up there with base jumping.
14. There are two kinds of people in the world: the people who hold full-time, demanding desk jobs and manage to not gain weight and people I don’t irrationally hate.
15. You better hope you work with some cool people — so far it’s been the best [only?] way to make friends post-college. Stop staring at their cubicle and talk to them! They’re yours for as long as neither of you get fired…or leave [sorry Alyssa!].
16. The buzz words you used to laugh at — they start falling out of your mouth fairly quickly. One day you find yourself in a meeting dropping “synergy” this and “future-focus” that, with a completely straight face. Your boss nods. Brilliant, he thinks. Suddenly you’re hyper aware of what you’re saying. The meeting ends. Numbly, you shake hands with everyone and walk, slowly, back to your desk, dumbfounded by what you’ve become. Two more hours until you can go home.
17. No matter how many afternoons ended with your forehead glued to your keyboard in defeat, you’ll be sad to go. Packing up your desk will be no fun. Many thanks to Sports Illustrated and everyone who made it as rewarding as it was — if all else fails, we’ll always have Vegas.