This month I changed jobs for the second time this year, and both times it’s caused some social anxiety.
I found the idea of meeting a lot of new people at once really overwhelming. Before my first day, I found myself thinking about what to wear, anticipating what the culture will be like, and considering what kind of persona to display. Then once I got there, I was focusing on trying to remember everyone’s names and faces while also not saying or doing anything that would make them question why I’ve been hired. It was very anxiety-provoking.
While I feel like it’s really common to be nervous or apprehensive for the first day or two, both times I changed jobs I am surprised at how long it took to settle in socially. A lot of my energy in the first few weeks was spent on figuring out the implicit social rules and group dynamics, and how to fit in with them. These are very rarely explained to you as part of the onboarding process, because they’re things people don’t usually vocalise or formalise. And it feels like a minefield, potentially with professional and personal repercussions for getting things wrong. It also comes on top of getting to know everyone individually, and so it has been really draining.
I’m not sure whether there’s anything my managers or colleagues could have done to help me settle in more easily - or anything I could do in the future for new starters. But putting it into words (and giving myself a little credit for handling it) has helped me feel better 😊