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From Nervous to Confident: Strategies for Navigating New Job Anxiety

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Congratulations! You’ve just landed your dream job.

After hours of toiling and perfecting your resume and work ethic in your interviews, you finally got the job that you’ve been eyeing.

So that’s the good news. The bad news is you feel uneasy about it.

You are confident about your skills and are willing and eager to learn. Your new supervisor and team were nothing but welcoming. So, what gives? Why are you having this sudden feeling of discomfort?

That, my friend, is what we call new job anxiety and it’s far more common than you think.

New job anxiety is defined as the general feeling of uneasiness and nervousness experienced prior to working for a new role[1]. These feelings manifest in different ways and can be experienced in varying degrees. It can seem overwhelming and may make some feel helpless. But overcoming new job anxiety is not impossible with the right approach[2].

Navigating the nerves

Becoming a part of a new company, whether small, new or already established and high performing, can be scary, and that’s realistically speaking. Anything new can be unsettling.

With a new job, you’re traversing a new territory and interfacing with strangers. You’re pretty much out of your comfort bubble. Even for those with prior work experience, a new job still triggers a certain degree of worry or apprehension. You’re nervous about not fitting in right away, not making new friends or not performing enough. You’re uneasy about the change, worried about commuting, thinking how your new schedule or set up will botch gimmick nights and barkada time. You feel as if you’re in a roller coaster as the realization of this big change sets in.

These things happen, and that’s completely normal. You are not the first to go through this, and you won’t be the last. The first few weeks in your new workplace will certainly bring other emotions. Let’s see how we can deal with them:

Calming anxiety and overthinking

Overthinking. The biggest crux of it all. You try to avoid it, but you can’t help it.

It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and overthink every little matter that concerns you even when everything is working perfectly fine. It’s important to take a hold of yourself and manage your nerves as best you can. You’re still settling in and getting used to your new surroundings, after all.

Take deep breaths, hold them in for a few seconds then release. A simple breathing exercise helps reset your mind and nerves.

If breathing or meditation doesn’t do the trick, maybe a distraction is more your style. Put on your favorite calming music — your best jams if you want to feel pumped — and let yourself loose with the tunes.

Most importantly, believe in yourself more. Remember that you are perfectly capable and that they see a great potential in you that’s why you got hired in the first place. You got this!

Combating loneliness

Being the new guy in a place where everyone has built years of relationship with each other can be isolating. You could feel like you’re infiltrating their space and that you don’t belong.

Don’t let yourself be swallowed up by these thoughts or feelings. Friendships, regardless of place and time, start with people being strangers.

Make an effort to get along with everyone in the workplace. Sometimes, you just need to take the initiative to set things in motion. You’ll probably be part of a department group chat, so why not start there? Small talks and friendly introductions, as cliche as they are, can go a long way. You might even be surprised by how receptive and welcoming people are once you begin chatting with them.

Additionally, don’t underestimate the power of self-care to combat feelings of isolation or loneliness. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat well and make time for hobbies or activities that you enjoy outside of work. When you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to feel confident to engage with people at work. Also, having anecdotes or things to share with new colleagues will definitely help in keeping the conversation flowing.

Understanding confusion

Don’t know where — or how — to start and don’t know what to do about it? Feeling like a fish out of water? No worries; no one knows everything a hundred percent all the time.

As a new hire, your supervisors and colleagues don’t expect you to grasp everything within a day or your first week or a month even. Feeling lost is part of the learning curve and so is making mistakes. When you do make a mistake, be honest about it and take responsibility for any consequences that may come out of it. Learn the lesson and apply that lesson in your tasks going forward. This shows your colleagues and supervisor that you’re committed to learning and growing in your role.

Give yourself some time to be familiar with your role and eventually master all your tasks. It does take time to get acclimated to a new job and it’s okay to feel confused or unsure in the beginning. Be patient with yourself and remember that it’s a learning process. But do be diligent and responsible enough to know that you can’t take all your sweet time. There are expectations — and job performance reviews for them — that you have to fulfill and within a certain time frame.

Again, confusion at work doesn’t mean you’re not capable or qualified for the job. It’s par for the course, and with time and effort, you’ll get the hang of things. Just keep asking questions, taking notes and seeking out support when you need it.

Alleviating impostor syndrome

Having feelings of self-doubt? Thinking you are a phony because you feel incapable despite performing rather well at work?

You could be experiencing impostor syndrome, which can be common for those just starting out.

You might occasionally feel like you don’t have the skills or experience to be successful in your new role. But remember: You were hired for a reason, and you have unique skills and talents to offer.

Dealing with impostor syndrome requires a good sense of awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. A good degree of self-understanding will pull you back in and remind you of your capabilities and motives.

It’s important to note the things you are good at and capitalize on them as those are what will propel you forward. Remind yourself of your accomplishments, capabilities, and the positive feedback you received from others to counteract negative self-talk and boost confidence. Write these down if you need to.

Never compare yourself to others. It’s easy to fall in a spiral when you compare your performance with others’. Unless you plan to use it as a healthy motivator, it’s never a good thing to do. Focus on your own progress and growth instead. This way, you get to track where you are against the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Managing stress and exhaustion

You may feel being thrown into the deep end learning work jargons and mastering workflows and processes on top of remembering names and faces and adjusting to your new hours. All these can be mentally taxing.

When you’re starting to feel a little weary and drained, turn to your comfort activities or take a break. If you work from home, there’s no one stopping you from getting a quick bite right before you finish that report or continue writing that article. You can listen to a podcast or playlist while trying to get back into the zone.

No job is free of stress. In fact, having no work can be quite, if not more, stressful. The point is that stress and exhaustion is part of everyday life. So, you have to learn to manage it. Learning to cope and overcome new job anxiety is a powerful ability that will carry you through your first weeks — and maybe years — on the job. Keep yourself focused and stick to what works best for you and you’re good to go. It might take some time and practice and a lot of getting used to, but once the ball starts rolling, you’re in it to win it. Good luck!



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