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Sunday, 2 September 2012

On Being New

I'm in a very interesting professional position right now. I'm very new in a role that takes a short time to understand, but a very long time to get proficient at. I have days when I think I'm moving forward, and days when I wonder if I'll ever get the gist. I am surrounded by more experienced people, many who have been in the job for decades, and right now they are quicker, slicker, and worthy of a lot of respect. The overwhelming majority have been brilliant in those moments when I've struggled, when the airwaves go crazy and everything happens at once. I hope that one day i am able to be as helpful to newcomers as many have been to me, because boy does it make a difference. I guess that working with a newbie is a bit of challenge if you've been at the same coal face for years, and I expect there's a lot of repressed frustration when the person beside you is slower and kind of chugging along, not quite as smooth and creamy as themselves. Hats off to those who've been patient with me, or who've given me some sound and non judgemental advice at the right time. I'm grateful beyond all measure. It must be very hard remembering what it's like to be new at something when you've not been new for years. I can remember a little of what that feels like when I tutored newcomers in the old job. I always adopted a gently gently approach, doing everything possible to get the trainee to take the psychological heat off themselves, because in all honesty this is the heart of the battle. Most, if not all people find it stressful learning something new, and the expectations we heap on ourselves often outweigh those expected by others. I've found the biggest battles during the last few months have been inside my head; frustration when I get it wrong; confidence drain when I wonder what colleagues must think of my clumsy efforts; and unrealistic expectations I heap upon myself. Truth is, I expect it's going to take a year before I'm even close to feeling at ease in this role, and that feels like a long way ahead right now. I've been out of training for less than a month, see.
Is there a point to this blog? I suppose I'm reminding myself that I have to be a realist, and perhaps if it helps others in their attitudes and approach to newcomers then it won't hurt. Learning something new is often gruelling, with a lot of internal an external factors at play. I think we need to be kind to ourselves, and hope that others show kindness, too.

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