Tag Archives: work

First Day of Work

In honour of my new temp job…

first day of work


Shy Batman

I’ve been AWOL for a few days as I’m starting up a new business which is taking up most of my time. It’s an odd experience as it depends entirely on people joining, so I have to go out of my way to convince them it’s a good idea.

On the one hand, I’m essentially the face of the company and I have to be happy-smiley-confident-I’ll talk to anyone.

On the other hand, I’m painfully shy so there are a lot of moments when I wonder why I ever thought this was a good idea.

first impressions

I’ve got a business meeting this week with someone I’ve never met before but who could be hugely important, and yet again my social awkwardness has arrived to trip me up at the most inopportune time. I’ve spent years reading studies on human behavioural interaction to try and understand what seems to come naturally to other people, the kind of subconscious social cues that I feel I should have learnt by immersion rather than second hand.

I think it’s nerves more than anything make me second guess my behaviour now.

I remember being so conscious of everything I did or said when I had to talk to people in my teens – don’t fidget, don’t cross your arms, speak slowly and clearly, don’t avoid eye contact but don’t stare, mirror the person you’re speaking to but not too obviously, discuss the weather because it’s an inoffensive topic and not because you have any particular meteorological feelings, don’t tell people they’re stupid just because it takes them 3 times longer to reach your conclusion – but in the last few years much of that has become automatic.

I forget sometimes, when I’m around the people I’m used to, and then that uncertainty sneaks up on me out of nowhere. It can still sometimes seem like a lot all at once, trying to remember all the social cues as well as keeping up the flow of conversation. It’s become a lot easier to manage in recent years, and I think that is mainly down to my acceptance of it. With age comes perspective, and I realise now that stuttering through the odd sentence or forgetting the odd word or even having to explain something that seems remarkably simple to me (but not to the entire rest of the world, it seems) is not the disaster I once imagined.

That said, I have no idea how this meeting will go. It’s a genuine business meeting which is really important, so I have to make a good impression. I have to leave this man thinking that I’m capable, intelligent and responsible, and splitting my focus between explaining my business plan and remembering to make the appropriate amount of eye contact may be difficult.

This is why I hate first impressions – the physical image of a person will stay in your mind for years and could potentially taint your entire relationship. Not only that, but conversation in person is spontaneous. Emails, texts or even Facebook chat can offer a little time for contemplation, for the beloved edit and rewrite, but speaking is immediate. The words are out with little to no time for planning and if something goes wrong, the only option to correct the error is to continue talking. You must push the poor little conversational canary further into the condemned mineshaft of misunderstanding, at the same time hoping for the fresh air of mutual perspective while also dreading the moment the bird croaks on its own confusion and silence falls.

See what I mean? I could never have come up with that metaphor without time to think.



NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that you start on the 1st of November, aim for quantity over quality, and by midnight on the 30th of November you have a novel of about 50,000 words (about 175 pages).

It doesn’t matter if half of it doesn’t make sense, you’ve got as long as you want for edits and rewrites so the important thing is that you finish it. It’s a perfect project for anyone who’s ever thought “I could write a book, it can’t be that difficult!” or “Look at Twilight, if that can hit the best seller list anyone can do it!”

From NaNoWriMo.org :

In 2010, we had over 200,000 participants. More than 30,000 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

Sure I’m running a choir, organising a concert, starting an agency, planning several photo shoots and I’ve only been in my new job a week, but who can resist a sell like that?!

interviews & new job

I’m looking for a new job at the moment and so far I’ve been on 4 interviews, 3 with employment agencies which took less than half an hour combined and 1 for a specific job which took almost an hour. The search has been made more difficult by the fact that I left an average, finance office job to find “something more creative” but I’m still not entirely sure what that will be.

I haven’t been on an interview for 5 or 6 years so it feels like a new experience to try and package myself in a way that will come across appropriately hard-working and conservative but also creative and personable.

Strangely enough, I think running a choir over the last few months has helped with this. Every week I’ve had to stand up in front of a group of people who I (mostly) don’t know and teach them music that I’ve written. The first week was terrifying but I’m slowly getting used to it. It’s a strange feeling when 10 years ago even talking to a new person made me feel physically ill.

Back to the job interviews, and I think I’ve found a company I could work for.

barometric pressure headaches

I’ve been learning all sorts of fancy new words for the “beat me over the head with a cricket bat, why don’t you” headaches that occasionally knock me on my ass. It turns out, all those times I thought “I wonder if the rain clouds are giving me a headache…no, that’s ridiculous,” I could have been right!

There have been studies that show barometric pressure can bring on headaches and migraines in some sufferers. No one’s entirely sure why yet (yay, science!) but up to 2 or 3 days before the weather changes a headache can set in as a result of the change in air pressure.

I’ve also learnt about “visual auras”, “fortification spectrum”, “scintillating scotoma”, “dysphasic auras” and the “postdrome phase”. More specifically, I’ve learnt that these are all the fancy doctoring words that apply to my weird hallucinations and unusual behaviour before & after a full-on migraine.

And what does all this add up to? It means that next time I have to leave work in the middle of the day, I can tell my boss I’m having a scintillating scotoma visual aura and possibly a dysphasic aura and that I need to go home and rest until I’m through the postdrome phase.

Like I’ll remember that.

The above picture is an artist’s impression of a scotoma that can appear before a migraine. It starts out tiny, just in the corner of your vision, flickering like static on a TV. Gradually it gets bigger and bigger, becomes a circle, moves toward the centre of your vision and finally you can’t see the face of someone standing right in front of you.

Creepy, huh?


“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and doesn’t stop until you get into the office.” – Robert Frost

“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” – Galileo

"Starry Night" by Vincent Van Gogh