The first week into my big girl job was rough- let’s just say I was still adjusting. I frequently felt uncomfortable, wasn’t familiar with the routine, sick of making disastrous small talk. The office was small and most of the employees had worked together for many years. They had attended each others weddings, met family members, spent numerous hours together in the office and had a pattern everyone was comfortable with, making it painfully obvious I was the FNG- fucking new guy.
There were many things I enjoyed about my new job- I had health insurance, I got paid every other Friday without fail, I went to a company dinner that involved lobster the first week, happy hour the second week , they were apparently going to teach me to fly airplanes. But 9-5 didn’t come easy. I still couldn’t quite make it down the block from the Metro to the office in heels- so I routinely showed up with Chuck Taylors on my feet, my heels shoved in my purse with a haphazardly made lunch and a book for the commute.
After being unemployed for the duration of the summer and then not starting work as a nanny until after preschool let out at 2pm, I hadn’t been up consistently before sunrise in six months. I overslept, forgot to shower, got dressed in the dark (read: didn’t match), forgot to pick up my clothes from the dry cleaner, wore a purple bra under a white button down. It was a slow moving process.
At the beginning of my first week, they brought in a photographer to take photos for the website and for one of our yearly publications that would be coming out the following month. It was like school picture day but worse. The photos were not just for Grandma to hang on the fridge- but for the public. I wore a cream colored button down shirt, a teal v-neck sweater and my favorite earrings. I remembered to put on make-up, my acne had decided to take a brief break from entirely ruining my life. I was going to wow the professional world with my good looks and charm. But then I saw my hair. I went to the bathroom and tried to control the curly, frizzy, red-headed mess that I had spent years fighting, managing and then accepting. I smoothed it, I scrunched it with damp hands, I adjusted and bobby-pinned and prayed.
As I walked into the conference room turned photography studio, the photographer took one look at me and said, “I’ll give you a minute to fix your hair”.
“I did!” I responded, feeling moderately rejected. He raised his eyebrow, looking from the mirror to me with a suggesting look. “Sir,” I said, gritting my teeth, “this is as good as it’s going to get”.
He shrugged and started snapping pictures, visibly upset and with only half the enthusiasum I thought I deserved said, “smile and say yesssssss!”.
Afterward he handed me his business card. “E-mail which picture you like the best and I’ll photoshop out all that redness on your face”. I stared dumbfounded. “And your nose stud needs to be photoshopped out too. You want to look professional, right?” Shot down, rejected. I had no idea how to respond as I just hung my head in shame and walked back to my desk. Fuck being a grown-up, I thought, and started Facebooking.