Work Generation

– Alexia M. Larcher

Like many other introverts, I am ambitious. I grew up poor and I swore to myself that I would be financially independent as soon as possible and make enough money not to have to worry about simple things like buying clothes and owning a room of my own. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to finish my bachelor degree and know enough about selling (and I’m prone to get badly nervous when I sell, honestly) to repeatedly use it to get a job. Of course, this means I go out of my way to acquire information about business as a whole and business culture more specifically so I can get through my day so I can keep said job.

At the same time, I recognize that my work experience is not all that different from other members of my generation in North America. I have had a superfluous number of temp jobs. I have been told that I should work for free, also known as gathering internships under my belt, which I could not afford because of the above-mentioned upbringing. I have little job security to speak of. I have little to no seniority too. I can’t expect to ever have either. I have been underemployed all of my working life so far. Due to the lack of seniority, I have had a hard time trying to get jobs which would not underemploy me, but I go out of my way to learn something from every job I’ve been in. I’m eager and impatient to start my “career”, but I don’t know when that will happen because of the way many companies deal with employees. It’s definitely been their market for a while now. I have savings because I’m disciplined in that regard, but I know I can’t expect to retire and I worry that I will never be able to even buy a house. So in many ways, I am not so different than most of my peers.

All that to say that all these changes can hit introverts hard. Work is one of the few not-so-optional life activities asides from dating where we meet so many strangers on a regular basis. You’re always meeting new people if you can’t find an employer that will let you stick around and grow on them for a while. You might be placed into situations where you don’t get a second chance because you have two weeks to persuade people you’re “likeable enough” to hire you permanently. You have to impress more people than before because everyone works in teams and the gods help you if you happen to be put in the same team as someone who spends their 40+ hours a week talking non-stop. At least we know where the washrooms are by now.

So whenever I start a new job, I make checkmark lists. Have I been going out of my way to sleep well, a known mood-booster? Check. Did I meet as many people on the team as possible and did I like them? Check. Do I know the area well enough to spot prime nap places (naps in the sun after dinner make for a great dessert)? Check. Do I know how many people I will be dealing with? Check. Have I decided on a post-first-day introvert activity? Check. It feels a little ridiculous, but the lists make change a little easier for me to deal with.

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