A Customer Service Job Changed My Life

My social anxiety didn’t develop until I was in 7th grade. That was the year that I was afraid to take certain classes because I knew my friends wouldn’t be in them. I was afraid to eat in the cafeteria because I didn’t want to have to sit alone. I was even afraid of participating in sports because I thought that my teammates would make fun of my limited athletic abilities. This anxiety continued for years, up until junior year of high school.

As soon as I turned 16, I applied to a plethora of jobs ranging from a baker at Dunkin Donuts to a sales associate at TJ Maxx. I was excited to be able to make my own money and have new responsibilities on my plate. Applications crowded the dinner table every night, resumes were flying, and I was forcing interviews into a tightly-packed schedule. This meant to me that I was finally becoming independent! Little did I know that the job that I would end up with would result in a large change in who I was as a person.

A few days into my job search, Walgreens offered me an interview, and I quickly took them up on the offer. I was hired as a Beauty Advisor and Customer Service Associate. This meant, while I did help customers with their cosmetic needs, I also assisted people in finding what they needed and getting out of the store swiftly. This was a tricky task for me because of my history with social anxiety. I was truly afraid of interacting with customers. I did not realize this would be an issue until I began working and was forced to speak to a new person practically every minute of my eight-hour shift.

After working for a few weeks, I found that I dreaded going to work every day. I feared that my new coworkers hated me, that I was awkward around customers, and even that my boss was plotting to fire me as soon as I walked into the store. 

Although it seemed like the easiest option would be to flee to my bed and binge-watch Parks and Recreation, I kept my cool and pushed through my discomfort. I greeted every person walking through the sliding glass door with a wide smile and a “how are you?” I attempted to make even the smallest positive impact on each customer’s day.

After more than three years at Walgreens, I can easily say that it changed my life. My social anxiety used to cripple everything that I did, but as I adjust to life in college, I can see the impact this job has had on my social skills. I am eternally grateful for all of the people who supported me through my job- my family, friends, and coworkers. These people helped me to adjust and change in ways I didn’t even know were possible.