When I arrived for the first day of my January internship, it was to a completely different office from the one I had left behind. Savannah, my friend and coworker, had left New York and returned home to Arizona. With her went the team dynamic we had cultivated, a dynamic that only once it was gone did I realize had a huge impact on how I felt about work.
Of course, there was a new girl in Savannah's place, Erica, but I would never work as well with her or like her nearly as much. In fact, there were several new people in the office. Another girl, Edith, was solely responsible for producing the PowerPoint presentations Vivian needed for her Training Programs. And, the most important new addition, Vivian had taken a bold step and hired a partner-figure, Elizabeth. Like Vivian, Elizabeth had worked as a Recruiting Director at several large, well-known law firms, and had signed on to help Vivian grow her business.
And so it was a hectic and confusing first week back as I tried to grapple with so many new people and such a different office environment. I found myself longing for the days of the summer when I had understood my place in the team. Now I felt insecure and uncertain about where, if anywhere, I belonged.
Erica managed the administrative duties: phones, calendar, email, expense reports.
Edith did the training programs and special projects.
Elizabeth worked with Vivian on business development and company strategy.
Even though Vivian had welcomed and encouraged my return, by the end of my first day I was wondering if there was anything left over for me to actually do.
Meanwhile, back on the home front, my mom was trying to convince me to take a semester off from school. After such a disastrous fall, I still wasn't completely 100% well, and my mom felt that going back to school again so quickly would further damage my still-fragile health. I brushed off her suggestions for the most part. I didn't want to postpone my college graduation; it didn't sit well with me to put it off.
But then something unexpected happened that changed my life again. On a snowy night in the middle of January, I slipped on the sidewalk and broke two of my front teeth. I cannot stress enough how traumatic this was for me. All of my previous injuries from the past few months seemed impermanent in comparison. My surgery wounds? They healed eventually. The infection went away and the rash faded. But my tooth? My tooth would never be the same.
I would also like to add, as an aside, that I have extremely large and prominent front teeth and I have always been rather fond of them. Even before I broke my teeth, I would have said that breaking a tooth topped my list of "worst possible fears." And then I broke a tooth! And as it turned out, the reality was just as bad as I'd imagined.
Ok, perhaps that last sentence is a big of an exaggeration. After all, five dental surgeries later and you would never know the difference. My dentist was so thorough that he even managed to get the slight discoloration at the bottom of my fake front teeth to match the real ones. However, the breaking of my teeth, the culmination of what can only be described as a Series of Unfortunate Events, was also, as they say, the straw that broke the camel's back. Shortly after it happened, I determined that I was not yet emotionally or physically ready to return to college. My mom was right after all. I would take a semester off from school.
After I had made my decision, I told Vivian that I would be sticking around for the following few months and would love to keep working for her, if possible. She said she would be delighted to have me stay on at the office, part time. Again I was relieved. I felt that, if I needed to take time off from finishing my college degree, at least I would be working toward a successful future.
And so the winter began thawing into spring.