Europe is calling my name – in two days I will be hopping a bus, two planes, and one compact rental car into the heart of Germany to visit my nephew who is spending his junior year of high school in a town in the very north of the country. The vacation was booked over six months ago, when I was approaching the 1.5 year mark at a difficult job without an end in sight. Fast forward to today in a very different place: two months into a brand new position at a brand new non-profit and I’m about to say bon voyage (or the German equivalent) for two weeks.
Two weeks away at the beginning of a new job is a long time. I’m still finding my footing, trying to bond with new coworkers, and not 100% locked down on daily job responsibilities. Needless to say planning ahead for my stint out of the office is difficult. Cut to this past Friday when my extremely perceptive boss leans her head into my office. “Alix, can we meet later today?” she says with a smile. “Nothing formal, just want to see how things are going.”
One of the hardest parts about a new job is making mistakes – many, many mistakes. Immediately my mind zooms to the handful of blunders I’ve made since joining the organization, and I assume the fateful meeting will be all about my professional shortcomings. Whatever happens, it’s for the best, I tell myself.
When the afternoon unfolds before me and the meeting time finally arrives, I walk shaky-kneed to her office and shut the door behind me. I pull up a chair with bated breath, waiting to see what kind of trouble I might be in – albeit for what, I’m still not sure. “I just want to check in with you and see how things are going. I sense you’re a little overwhelmed with things before your trip. Is there anything I can do to help? Anything you want to talk about?”
My guard drops as I realize she is opening dialogue and creating a safe space for me to bring everything to the table. The truth is – trip or no trip, being the new kid on the block is tough. I open up to her about many trials and tribulations, how much I hate to make mistakes, and the fear of leaving a job for two weeks when I’m just starting to settle in. She assuages my doubts and reminds me the way to learn is through mistakes.
“One other thing I expect,” says my boss, “is that you have the most fabulous time – and don’t even think about work for a second.” Gauntlet thrown; challenge accepted.