To think back on my first real paying job brings up the fuzziest of memories. I was in High School, 16 and urged a good friend to sneak me into this special program where I heard an actual paycheck was involved. See, my first job was tough. I’d stumbled on a therapists assistant position of monitoring and coaching autistic children at an after school program. Essentially, I learned the patience and know how of listening more effectively, and taking orders that in some cases meant life or death.
I remember sitting in a classroom while assigned to a child each day and wondering if I could really do it. From the smallest task of helping a young boy put on his coat (this often took several prompts, sometimes 30min) to helping a young girl eat 1 cup of yogurt (not as easy as it seems). But the fear was never of the kids or their toys, but of whether I could live up to the expectations of being someone that they could depend on to feel better & get through their assigned tasks. I’d known zero there is to know about autism (do many 16yr olds do?), who it affects, the why’s, the families it stood up to and tried to beat down. But I learned.
Because in the face of fear & the not knowing, I understood that it wasn’t at all about me. & when this happens, it does become that much easier to get over not only yourself, but also any annoying feelings of inadequacy.
Odd, because most stories I do hear of first job experiences typically entail a gross tale of burgers and atrocious customer retail flashbacks (the latter which I emphasize with wholeheartedly btw). But this? Was hard, and challenging, and stress inducing for a youngin who only wanted a few dollars to waist on clothes at Strawberry.
But I’ve no regrets. I learned then blossomed and felt the greatest sense of accomplishment having helped. I remember their names, David, Susie, Rachel & Wally & oddly enough still run into some from time to time.
Do you guys remember your first job? Did you learn any lifelong lessons from it?