by Dear Damsels Team
On Wednesday Night, the team that is Dear Damsels went to the first event in the Collectively Unleashed series, titled ‘Future of Work: How Can We Embrace Our Inner Swede?’
As big-time fans of all things Scandi (particularly breakfast snegls) we were intrigued – but not only by the idea of embracing a more Swedish lifestyle. We wanted to go to an event that directly focussed on working life, and how to to improve it.
As twenty-somethings, it can be all too easy to dismiss work as ‘just work’ – after all, we’re about as carefree as we’re going to be in life, why spend more time than necessary thinking about work? (Carpe diem, let your hair down, work, schmork, etc, etc.)
Obviously life isn’t all about the thing you do to earn money. But there’s no use denying that a huge part of your life is spent at the workplace – that’s just a fact – and it’s important to acknowledge that a person’s self-worth can be largely affected by what they do for a living and how they feel when they’re doing that job (perhaps even more so when they’ve just stepped onto that career ladder, moved to new city, and are constantly comparing the rung they’re on to that of their friends.)
And so, inspired by the brilliant Collectively Unleashed discussion, we wanted to spend a moment thinking about what we’ve taken away from the world of work, and how it’s contributed to how we see ourselves now. We came up with a few things we’ve learned – and it goes beyond mastering Outlook and printing on letterhead (we’ve mastered neither of those).
The people you work with can be as important as the job itself
When you work at a place where most of the people are creative and talented as well as genuinely lovely and really into baking, you come to realise how important it is to get on with your colleagues. These are the people you spend the most time with – and who you might even speak to on a daily basis more than your ‘real’ friends or partner. It’s definitely possible – and important – to find a job where you really enjoy spending time with your co-workers (you might even end up living with one and starting an online female community with another). – Abby
You will surprise yourself
My job has led me to uncover things about myself I didn’t think I had in me. Work-Bridie is outspoken. Work-Bridie thinks on her feet. Work-Bridie can remember the vital information for over 700 books. Work-Bridie also, apparently, has the loudest voice in the whole department. It isn’t as if I’m not capable of all of these things outside of work, but more that if I hadn’t been in a role that required me to be this way, I would have never realised it in myself. (Except the voice thing. My voice has always been loud.) – Bridie
There is such a thing as split email-personality disorder
Never am I more of an easily-swayed Gemini than when I’m trying to gauge the right email tone. Chatty? Jokey? Serious? Aloof?* Through work email correspondence I have come to realise I am a shameless shapeshifter, and pick up other people’s email habits even more easily than I pick up a dodgy twang when conversing with an Australian person. I’m not sure whether the lesson here is to ‘just be myself’ or to ‘embrace all my different sides’. Either way it’s a lesson I may never fully take on board. –Abby
*I have never written an aloof email. Aloof emailers terrify me.
Your opinion matters
It is so tempting to sit quiet, especially when you are on an entry-level salary sitting in a meeting with managers and directors. But you have a voice, and an instinct, and a right to be in any room you are invited to. So if something isn’t sitting well with you, or you feel a point to make on the tip of your tongue, say it. Most times, you’ll be voicing what others have been thinking all along. Alternatively, you’ll get a bemused expression from all your superiors and an awkward silence. Not that that’s happened to me, obviously. – Bridie
You can’t always say yes
We’ve been told this a thousand times. We know it and dish it out as advice to friends but don’t ever put it into practice. It’s just too tempting to be the person who always says yes. Yes, I can help you with that. Sure, I can fit that in at some point. But when the things you’re saying yes to could just as easily be done by someone else, all you’re doing is stopping yourself from getting something more challenging and rewarding done. Sometimes you’ve got to be that girl who just says no. During the Collectively Unleashed discussion, Emma Gannon half-joked that as soon as she stopped pandering to her boss, she got promoted. It’s all too easy to see how true it is that as long as you keep saying yes, people will keep asking you. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere . . . – Abby