21 August 2020 Recently, I celebrated two years workversary (of course no real celebration other than meetings and work) but it’s two years in the company and two years in into working life. Looking back, I realised I’ve grown so much since I was a fresh graduate and these are the three things about working life that I learn.
1. DONT TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY
I don’t know if it’s my personality, my upbringing, or the culture I came from, I’m not used to being being criticised or scolded harshly right in my face. Six years and counting, I’m still annoyed to hear how loud and aggressive Hong Kong people talking. Only after work, I know the feeling of being scolded by my managers because either I did something unfavourable OR they are frustrated with their work and need someone to throw a tantrum to (after all, we are all human). Only after work, I experience being criticised by clients because my work is underwhelming. Only after work, I was once told that I’m just an average associate and my skirt is too short that I better go home and change.
And I take it personally.. I feel disappointed. I overthink. I cry. I get demotivated. I blame myself. All of the thoughts of I’m not good enough, my boss hates me, I wanna get out of this project as soon as possible, bla bla bla..
Thankfully, it only took me a while to realise that I shouldn’t take all those things personally. Just because my managers talk coarsely to me doesn’t mean they hate me. Instead, it’s their way of coaching us and, sometimes, showing care. Easier said than done, my attitude towards those critics should be “how could I do better next time? or how do I fix this now?”
2. WORK LIFE BALANCE IS BS
When I first started, I was extremely reluctant every time my boss gave me work at 6 pm to complete at 9 pm. Again, I have all the questions in my head — do they have a life outside work? how come they sleep less than 6 hours a day? why would they reply emails during weekends? is this the working culture I want?
One day, I notice all high achievers around me are being where they are right now because they put those extra hours in. They are willing take more responsibilities, always give in more than 100%, and that’s how they become on top of the game. Some people daydreaming that starting their own business means they can have a better work life balance or flexible time, they are wrong. Those successful entrepreneurs, influencers, actors, writers, they work 996* or even 24/7 because your dreams and great things do need sacrifices.
I have nothing against work life balance, it’s indeed a healthy and sustainable lifestyle to choose but it will take you no where. I neither work late nor in the weekends if I don’t have to, but now I have better understanding the concept of no pain no gain. We’re young (and broke), healthy, and have less responsibility so our work life balance can come later in life.
3. CORPORATE LIFE IS A GAME
Or should I say our life is indeed a game? I am a believer that to climb up the corporate ladder, people can’t just be good at what they’re doing. We also need to know how to build relationships, understand office politics, being recognised for our work, and speak up at the right time.
As a naive fresh graduate, I was surprised by all these 101 ‘tricks’ to butter up our boss — attending happy hours because it’s our chance to mingle with senior management, flattering him or her up in front of their boss (haha) or actively participating in company events although you complaint about it
As much as I want to stay true to myself, these unspoken rules are unavoidable. Then, I realise part of the game is about being able to position ourself well among the people around us, and it is a skill not only needed in a corporate, but also in a startup, our own business, society, and life.
Today, I’m writing this based on my experience and perspective as a second year associate. Ten years later, 35 years old of me will probably laugh her ass off reading how innocent I am. It’s only the beginning of my career, many more life-changing, crossroads, eye-opening experiences to come. Can’t wait to see where life brings me next!
“The first two years of your career should be the most tiring”Big Boss #youknowifyouknow
Second Year Associate Drowning in Corporate Life,
*9 am to 9 pm 6 days a week