Adulthood here I come! Sort of. I’ve met 30-something-year-olds who claim that they are still trying to become successful adults so I don’t know. I may not get the hang of it until I’m retired. I can say ‘retired’ because I am now a part of the working class. Again, sort of. I have only just been introduced to the working world so it’s likely that I am only being treated kindly by it because I’m still learning the ropes. Grace period and all that. But the point is that it feels good not having to wake up for school. These days I get two extra hours of sleep. There is no difference between me and Bill Gates. I have arrived.
So I finished my coursework in school and once I finish this internship I’ll be set to graduate. I would prefer to just tell people that I’m interning (so that they don’t immediately assume I have a lot of money) but that always brings so many complications with it and it’s also unnecessary information to give someone that I’ve just met. So when they ask what stage of life I’m at, I just say I’m working at a private psychology practice and when they ask what I do there I say I’m a research assistant. Which isn’t a lie. It’s just not wholly truthful. I spend a lot of my regular day on the internet. Are there interns that don’t do social media work? I mean, apart from some of my school mates, International Relations majors, who are doing their internships at the department of immigration and from the conversations I heard them have, I should be glad that the ‘unserious’ course I did is treating me a bit better. All they do is filework. And get ordered around, the poor future diplomats.
My supervisors on the other hand are the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They come in at 10 am and leave at 4pm. They bring snacks to the office for everyone. Sometimes one of them even gives me a ride home. Drops me right at the gate like she’s my Uber driver. When they want to give me some work they first ask whether I’m too busy, as though I am not there to do whatever work they want me to do. Once I sent some work to one of them at 1 am when I had just completed it and she fretted about it the whole of the next day as though she had committed a serious violation of my rights by giving me a deadline. And on my first day they told me that if I ever got really held up with my writing and wanted to work from home, that would be perfectly fine. And they weren’t saying it sarcastically, that’s the wonder. Do you see why I say the working world is treating me kindly?
And I didn’t even tell you the best part yet. It is this: We are only four people in the office. I only have to talk to three people during my day. I’m telling you, there is no other meaning of bliss. Had I not found this place I would have gone to work at a school, under their counseling department. It’s an international school so you’d think that I’d have plenty to do because they take mental health more seriously than the rest of us who prefer to let suicidal teenage girls burn down schools. But no. When I went there to ask for a job description I discovered that all I’d be doing there the whole day is talking to teenagers about the importance of improving their grades in math. And I’d be surrounded by thousands of students and teachers every single day. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
But I lie. The best part about working where I’m working (or interning where I’m interning) is that they are decent people who pay. Those stories of not paying interns ati because you are giving them experience…you can miss me with that trash. Of course I can only afford (Ha. I know) to say that now because I’m on a paid internship but honestly though. People need to stop exploiting students (and photographers and writers and pretty much everyone trying to make a living outside of an office space) in the name of exposure. It’s been said before, it can be said again: exposure doesn’t pay bills. Do better. One of the gems I have found on the internet is this: if you can’t afford to pay the people working for you then you can’t afford to do the work you’re doing. There are sensible people on the internet, who knew?
Incidentally, we celebrated World Mental Health Day this week on Tuesday and the theme was mental health at the workplace. As I wrote articles on this topic and ran social media campaigns about it, I couldn’t help but wonder at how lucky I am to be working at a place that is so good for my own mental health. I am not stressed. I am not waking up every morning with dread. I now dislike Mondays only a little, compared to the absolute hatred I had for it before. Nobody is constantly talking down at me. I feel respected and like my opinion counts, even in an environment where I am the least knowledgeable and the least experienced person. I am not worrying about having no money at all, and if I am, it’s my own damn fault. I may be a little idealistic in saying this but shouldn’t all workplaces be something like this?
Obviously it’s not possible to have all work environments moving at the easy-going pace that mine does–that would be disastrous in a hospital or a newsroom or a busy law firm, for example. But how much will it cost for people to treat other people, even those who are below them in terms of age or rank…like people? For most people, their jobs are their greatest source of stress. And the story is usually the same: poor interpersonal relationships, inconsiderately heavy workloads, shitty managers and supervisors, lack of security(see, I really am a research assistant)…basically, people are not happy with their work lives. I fear for myself. When I leave this place I may end up somewhere where I will be treated as though I’m sub-human. I don’t want that. Nobody wants that. I know someone who says she quit her job because she wanted to be happy, and I relate so hard. I want to be happy. Why does our world force people into trading their happiness for money? Ridiculous.
But so far, so good. Today my supervisor brought me a chicken sandwich and asked me to go home at 4:15. This is mental health at the workplace at its best. If anyone needs me I will be moving myself and my belongings from the kiddie table to the big table where the grown-ups sit.