This was it. I finished writing my resumes, successfully passed the interview process, and accepted the job offer with cheers of joy. I told my mother with a large grin on my face, but in the midst of my excitement, my smile slightly lowered, and a wave of nervousness washed over me.
Despite being chosen for this position, I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t qualified. I didn’t feel like I was ready. I worried that my abilities would not be able to exceed the expectations, and I will be so terrible at my job that I will be dismissed within a week's time! On top of that, I will also be continuing my education. I thought how utterly awful I will be in balancing my school life with my part-time Co-op term. Such ideas propagated through my head, consuming the initial exhilaration.
I had no control over these emotions. I started creating scenarios in my head - of me receiving a notice of dismissal, the disappointed look on my employer’s face, my lack of skills that would not only drag down my workplace, but also SFU’s reputation. I also imagined how many deadlines I would miss for my school assignments, and how much I would bother my professors. The fear of being a disappointment was becoming overwhelming.
I kept worrying until the day my Co-op term finally began. I prepared my workstation, patted down my clothes to make sure there weren’t any wrinkles, and shakingly pressed the zoom link. Even these three simple steps made me sweat. I whispered to myself to remain calm while I waited. I sat staring at the screen with the large, ‘please wait for the host to start the meeting’ message as my eyes followed the swirling blue circle.
Suddenly, that window disappeared, and the onboarding meeting began. My employer might have not noticed, but I was shaking in my seat. I think my voice cracked a bit in the beginning too. I listened intently, jotted down notes, and was assigned my first task. I remember inhaling a sharp breath, and my focus increased as if my life depended on it
The chatroom ended, and I exhaled a long breath. I stared at myself on the black screen.
The nerves came and shook my confidence, but I knew these nerves weren’t an excuse to not work.
So, what did I really do to extinguish my Co-op nerves? The simplest answer is nothing. I didn’t do anything to erase it.
While that may be a terrible plot twist, it is the truth. In the next few weeks, I was working on a variety of projects and writing my assignments. At first, I was overwhelmed, but I knew I couldn’t run away. I didn’t have anywhere to run to, so I simply had to put my all into my work. The more I worked, the less time I even had to worry about my nerves. At one point, I forgot what was even making me doubtful in the first place. I lived with the nerves and worked diligently on the tasks that came my way.
I just did my best.
To my surprise, those worries aren’t as prominent anymore. They were still there, but it wasn’t making me question my life choices.
In the beginning, I thought nervousness was a negative emotion that prevented me from doing anything, but such a notion was far from the case. Nervousness is a natural thing. I was nervous because I wanted to do well, and to do well is to simply do my best. It was such a simple answer that it was almost embarrassing when I realized it.
A month passed. I found a balance between Co-op and school so I could maximize my time with both. I made sure I could put equal amounts of diligence, creativity, and hard work into each one while making sure I wouldn’t have regrets with either. I was satisfied with my work. My employer seemed happy about my progress, and I received a good grade for my intersession course.
Co-op allowed this opportunity of realization.
You can’t really extinguish your nerves, but you can live with them. In my experience, I just learned that by doing your best, the nerves will settle, and the outcome will be satisfying.