Yesterday I went to work ... for the first time in 11 years, 7 months and something like 18 days. Its been a loooong time since I have had to get up early, be presentable and somewhat competent and be accountable to a 'boss.' I have volunteered a lot over the years but working is entirely different. As a volunteer I have always tried my best to be punctual, informed and efficient but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I was invincible. If I made a mistake or was late or something, what are they going to do? Fire me? I don't think so!
When you are working for free your job is virtually stress free but yesterday I was employed. I spent the day doing the kind of thing I do as a volunteer regularly but yesterday I felt a lot more pressure to 'be good' at what I was doing, to excel, to be at the top of my game. Let me tell you something, when you've been sitting on the bench for almost 12 years performance anxiety becomes an issue!
I spent the first hour of the day psyching myself out about how much I didn't know and second guessing the whole decision to pick up some casual hours. By the time it was break time I felt like I was in sixth grade again, all awkward and out of place, with no one to hang with at recess. I stood in the corner of the lunchroom, sipping my coffeejuice, all by myself like a dork until the music teacher rescued me. She asked me one simple, normal question but that's all I needed to remind myself that this work thing is no big deal. I am still me and a school's a school and kids are kids.
When the bell rang I went back to the classroom feeling pretty good and thank goodness the kids went easy on me. How do I know they went easy on me? They told me. When I left the classroom for the day, Taylor, one for the grade six boys I was working with asked, "Will you be here tomorrow?"
"Nope, I was just helping out for today because Mrs. Lambert wasn't feeling very well."
James, the other boy I was helping, said, "Too bad, since you're new I made today pretty easy but I had some ideas for tomorrow, if you were going to be here."
I chuckled, said good-bye and walked away ... thanking my lucky stars for this casual gig!