First Job, First Working Experience

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Oops, I’m a working adult now.

By Arathi Devandran @miffalicious & online at

Youth Talk Columnist

Youth Talk Columnist

The weekend began for me at 4.30pm on a late Friday afternoon, and I have never understood the meaning of Thank Gawd It’s Friday (TGIF) more than I did at 4.31pm earlier today. Let me proclaim it loudly now, TGIF!!

Several months ago, I remember commenting to a fellow student that time had lost its meaning and that it didn’t matter if it was a weekday or a weekend, because I was in control of my schedule and I’d take breaks whenever I wanted. I’d do anything to go back to that time, and that space.

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing; it can easily morph into an addiction to the past, and  becomes very difficult to wean off.

Thank goodness, then, that I’ve been busy with work. Yes, you read right. Work. As in, I-am-now-an-adult-and-I-work, work.


(It still makes me feel different shades of awkward to write adult there, but there you go. Time happens and catches up with the best of us.)

It is one thing knowing that change is in the horizon. It is another thing to go through the motions of said changes and wonder, what in the world is happening to your self.

I had one of those moments today, three weeks into work. I was at my desk, working on a task, and all of a sudden, it hit me that I had left behind a life that I had known and gotten too comfortable with, and was now in a space where I had absolutely no idea what to do with myself.

The first few days of work were a blur of nameless faces, and faceless names, email addresses and administrative matters. It was a blur because now that I think about it in retrospect, I was going through the motions of settling in, without wholly understanding what was happening.

What was happening was this: I was crossing over into a stage in my life that meant I was leaving my past far, far behind.

This was not a comfortable realisation to have.

Another uncomfortable realisation to have is that life very quickly falls into a routine. A routine that involved my work desk, long hours of commuting, and my bed. Now, routines are well and good to provide stability, but they can be dangerous, too. They become the breeding ground for desolation if one doesn’t actively try to improve one’s life (i.e. do anything/everything that isn’t related to work).

This “monotony” was yet another feeling I wasn’t used to – a little like the indigestion of the heart. I felt strange, and too big for my skin, and too small for my thoughts, both restless and listless at once.

And as usual, to sift through the matters of my heart, I turned into the arms of my family.

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Photo: Courtesy Arathi Devandran

Every morning, when I woke up and stumbled around for a cup of very strong, very hot coffee (and mind you, I was a self-termed morning person), I’d see my parents bustling around the house, fresh as daisies. They’d be (generally) cheerful, there would be music playing softly in the background, fresh fruits packed for “later, if you’re hungry” and bright, lilting conversation.


Every evening, when I trudged home after fighting through a crowded bus filled with similarly disgruntled working adults (there’s that word again) and exhausted school children, I’ll come home to the same (almost nauseating, I won’t lie) energy and cheer. Dinner would be awaiting my arrival, the TV with mum’s favourite program would be running, my dad would sit by the sofa simultaneously checking his emails and talking to my mum about something extremely trivial, and there would be all that life and light.

Keeping in mind that my parents worked for as long as I did, and were about twice my age, their alive-ness amazed me.  I was envious of their ability to manage it all.

I wanted what they had.

And I told them as much. Or in more realistic terms, I demanded to know what made them tick, and how I could tick as well, if not more.

It helped that I had people to show me that this stage of lethargy and drudgery would pass. Because, remember, it always passes.

It helped that I had my parents to advice me on good days, and leave me to my musings on bad days, because silence was as important in healing and dealing, as conversations. It helped that I had a home to come to, and a bed to crawl into at the end of it all, because rest helps to put life into perspective.

It really, really helped that I wasn’t alone; my parents always reminded me that they were there, even on days when I couldn’t bear the company of another human being.  I’m still learning. I’ve still got days and weeks and months and years and a lifetime of work ahead of me. There will be as many challenges as sweet triumphs, good days, and monstrous.  I’m going to become more and more of an adult; in time, I’ll be able to deal with it.

(With the family cheering me on from the sidelines).

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