Yup, that’s right lady friends. This week, I started a new job and reclaimed my thrown as The New Girl; the girl who, by default, doesn’t know where the bathroom is, what the Internet password is or how to behave like a normal human being. That means I might pee in a closet, get lost in a hallway or forget how to drink water without missing my mouth. Sure, I’m a grown ass woman, but as the official new girl in the office, it means nothing. Today is day one, and it’s my duty to kill everyone with over-the-top niceness and forced smiling. I’m leaving my witchcraft, taro cards, and second-hand underwear at home. I’m the new girl, and I’m fully prepared to hide my weirdness. Bring it on.
Work is a cheerocracy
Bring It On is the most influential movie of all time. The reason I say this is because starting a new job is like joining a cheerleading brigade and being thrown up in the air and hitting the ground. Worst case scenario, your face catches the fall, you eat shit and go home. Oh well. Best case scenario, you bounce back on your feet with a broken leg, do a cartwheel and whip your hair back, and shout, “I’m sexy, I’m cute, I’m popular to boot!” (before Ubering to the nearest emergency room). Insert standing applause here. You sort of blend in, and now you’re in a cheerleading squad that’s got spirit, spunk, and a killer routine. This is what having a great job is all about, mini-skirts, cheerocracy and spirit sticks. Go team, go!
Lucky for me, I left my mini-skirt at home and decided to wear the safest and most telling outfit of all on my first day at work; all black. Like my heart. See, you might think it’s a better idea to dress as bright and put together as possible. But no, not me. I’m not emotionally ready to dress in a blazer, and black is my go-to wardrobe colour. Every office needs a Goth, and as the new girl, I think it’s important to make a statement with a fresh collection of casual-professional outfits that are funeral-ready and stain proof. That means I can spill as much sauce, coffee and assorted drinks onto my t-shirt without anyone noticing. Crisis averted. I’m wearing black and I can recover quickly if I forget how to eat and drink on my first day. Because I know I will. I’m a freak, pretending to be normal, remember?
The first impression
Now if you follow my advice and decide to wear all black during the first week of work, it’s important to give off the right first impression. If I’m wearing all black, it’s safe to assume that I speak to ghosts on my break, have telepathic powers and listen to dirty trap while holding long-uncomfortable eye contact with strangers on the streetcar. Hold off on the ghost whispering and concentrate on bringing a little bit of colour to your wardrobe so you don’t scare people. And by colour, I mean white. I recommend all-white sneakers because everyone can relate to all-white sneakers. Like hey! She’s got white sneakers! She must eat brunch all the time and shop at Gravity Pope! TRUTH. People relate to that.
Don’t scare your colleagues
Freaking out your colleagues is surprisingly easy when you’re new, because everything you say is potentially outrageous, and you’re under a magnifying glass until the other people you work with decide if you’re not annoying and sort of okay. Doing the job is actually the easy part, it’s the unspoken social cues and blending in that’s the most difficult. Forcing friendship on future BFF colleagues is easier when you add a little mystery to your presence. So try not to overshare about things that your colleagues don’t care about (YET)—like why you haven’t had a period in six months or the time you caught a rat in your apartment and traded it on Bunz for two tokens. Nobody really cares about stuff you do outside of work until they like you inside of work.
One of the hardest things to do on your first day of work is to small talk. Small talk is a gift that some people excel at, and other people fail miserably. My philosophy is to blurt out whatever mildly amusing story I’m thinking about in that exact moment—this can often cause me to come off “a little random,” but I’d much rather be random than too quiet. Take it from me; it’s better to be a little talkative than too quiet. New people who are too quiet are creepy because everyone knows that they’re plotting murder. Like what else would they be thinking about so hard that they can’t talk?! Only murder. So do yourself a favour and try and say something that matters. Murder is so not cool when you’re the new girl.
Here are a few conversation starters to help you small talk: Hey! Where’s the bathroom? Hey! Where’s the water cooler? Hey! Who left the burrito in the bathroom? Hey! Does anyone have a tampon? Hey! How often do we get free lunch? Hey! Does anybody know where to print stuff off? Hey! How do use the printer? Hey! Can someone show me how to load the paper tray of the printer? Hey! What’s your name again? Hey! I spilled burrito on my t-shirt and now I smell like stinky beef! Hey! Can someone show me how to drink water without spilling on myself? Hey! Look how black my outfit is today! Hey! I see dead people! Hey! Is this question stupid?
Show a splash of personality
Now that conversation is flowing, and your colleagues are tired of answering questions that are reassuringly “not dumb,” but are, this should give you plenty of opportunities to show a little personality. Not a lot, but just enough to give your colleagues a tip-off that they just hired a weird person. Really, the only thing most colleagues are secretly wondering is how old you are (baby-under-25 or not baby-over-25), and if you have a good sense of humour. Being likeable is a mix of exhibiting the right amount of silliness, pop culture knowledge and competence as a downtown Toronto human. This also means you have enough understanding of the Internet to keep up with references related to things that people care about: Like cats, Drake, trendy Toronto restaurants (Bar Raval, Bar Raval and Bar Raval) and Internet things like Humans of New York, Buzzfeed and the latest episode of Girls and Broad City. Boom, you’ve proved yourself as worthy. Keep up the good work.
Don’t stare at people
Let me also remind you while I have your attention is that staring at people is not a good thing. Being the new girl means giving every indication that A) You’re not plotting murder and B) You don’t make people feel uncomfortable with extended eye contact. These are the two things that are MOST important. And it’s good to be self-consciously aware of all actions until it’s been a couple of weeks and people are more used to seeing your face around. Then, one miraculous day, when there’s a NEW-NEW person in the office, you’ll feel accomplished about nothing. Like you’ve earned a badge as the second-newest person in the office. A big deal. Sooner or later, a year will pass, and you’ll feel like you kick ass for a living. The sweet spot of any job is six months to a year when you FINALLY understand what your job is and how to do it well. That’s when you can let your weird out.
Let your freak out
One day, hopefully in the near future, you’ll let your freak out. The earth will shake, cats will take flight and rainbows will last forever. This is the moment when your colleagues decide that you’re very capable, a little silly and most definitely weird. But all in all, you’re okay. Once this happens, friendship will blossom in places you never thought possible. Another new person will start, and you’ll suddenly feel like you can do your job with your eyes closed (but still open). Let it out, do a cartwheel and show them what you got. You got this, girl.