It is a well-known fact people have different temperaments, which is taken for granted in psychology, interpersonal relationships, and even in capitalistic economies. Respectively, each person responds to external stimuli in their own unique manner. Someone would self-confidently solve problems, organize work, and take responsibility; others would rather stay behind the curtains and act in a less straightforward way. There is no preferred model of behavior; any approach to life is reasonable until it is natural for a particular person. But, despite their temperaments, all people get nervous in certain situations. One of the most typical cases when even the most self-confident individuals may feel like a fish out of water is the first day at a new workplace.
Personally, I assess my temperament as a cross between being an extrovert and introvert. Sometimes I am active, communicative, and feel like the center of any company; another day, I am self-absorbed, thoughtful, and unwilling to talk to people. Unfortunately, when I suddenly find myself in a large company of new people, I usually act in the second way. This happened on my first day at work; even more, I behaved like that for the first three months of my employment. I was hired by a news agency right after my graduation; working in media was my dream, and I gladly accepted the offer from the agency’s HR manager, though the salary was not satisfactory.
My new workplace was an open office for about 50 journalists, each hunting for new material, interviewing public persons via phones, making business calls, and rushing in all directions. My chief editor briefly explained my tasks to me for the first day and vanished in the surrounding chaos. I was left alone with my computer and a list of newsmakers to work with. The chief editor did not even provide me with phone numbers of people whom I needed to call to verify certain information before publishing it on a website. Besides, everybody around me seemed to be too busy to be willing to help a newcomer like me. To put it short, all I felt in the first couple of hours of my employment was anxiety.
In my opinion (and based on my personal experience), the first day at a new job is difficult for many individuals due to several reasons. The initial reason for feeling unease is a natural embarrassment that is accompanied with being in a completely new surrounding. Each office, each company is a kind of an ecosystem with its own micro-climate, communication and survival laws, already formed groups and relationships. A new person usually is unfamiliar with the local customs of the new company they start to work at, so the first period of time they have to spend as aliens. Next, new work—especially if it is one’s first workplace—often implies that the newcomer is being tested and watched with special attention; this adds responsibilities and stress. Finally, the newcomer if often extremely critical of themselves because of being alert of even the smallest flaws or mistakes; they have to learn vast volumes of new information and obtain numerous skills.
The first day at work is often similar to initiation tests in distant, primeval tribes. A person is thrown into a collective of completely new and unfamiliar people, who already have their own working micro-climate established; the newcomer is almost inevitably seen as an alien in it. A new workplace also means increased responsibilities and expectations from the fresh employee, both from the employer and from the newcomer themselves. Also, on the first day of a new job people seem to realize the amounts of new knowledge and skills they need to master, and this may be rather discouraging for them. All this makes the first day at a new job a serious and highly stressful test.
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