Life is full of firsts! Your first love, first kiss, first job, first apartment. These are things people love to talk to you about when you are young. Though first times are easy to romanticize in hindsight, their reality can feel pretty scary. In this episode of YR's Adult ISH Podcast, host Nyge Turner talks to YR columnist Erianna Jiles about real-time lessons she’s learned starting a career. Plus, the Adult ISH team shares some of their own firsts with you.
Adult ISH is produced by YR Media and brought to you by PRX’s Radiotopia. Be sure to follow all our socials @yrAdultISH!
Nyge: Welcome to Adult ISH, produced by YR Media and brought to you by Radiotopia from PRX. I'm your host, Nyge Turner. Life is full of firsts. Your first love. First kiss. First job. First apartment. These are things people love to talk to you about when you're young. Though first times are easy to romanticize in hindsight, living them can feel pretty scary. Personally, that's when my anxiety is at its highest. So on this episode, we want to touch on some less common firsts, the feelings that they bring to the surface, and even share some of our firsts with you. Later in the show, we sit down with YR columnist Erianna Jiles to talk about real-time lessons she learned starting a career. But first, we're going to try something a little different. First are often terrifying. They can make your palms sweat, your heart beat hard in your chest, and even catch your breath in your throat. Feelings most people try to avoid. But not producer Dominique French.
Dominique: I love that feeling of controlled fear, which is hard to replicate when you're not trying to skydive and you're in a pandemic stuck in your house. That's why I love scary movies. They are my comfort food. I put them on in the background and sometimes even take naps with them on.
Nyge: Now senior producer Georgia Wright and I do not like scary movies. But in the interest of first times, Georgia and I sat down to do something we'd never done before: watch a scary movie. On purpose. On mic.
Dominique: Okay, so the movie is called “A Quiet Place.” There are no slasher elements, which I know, Georgia, you do not care for and there are no exorcisms, which I know Nyge, not your jam. I pulled a couple of clips for your viewing pleasure, and I'm just going to sit back and watch you all be brave or terrified, whichever takes place first.
Georgia: I kind of hope I cry. Is that weird?
Dominique: You hope you cry?? (laughs.)
Georgia: I feel like it'll be cathartic.
Dominique: That might happen. Honestly, actually, Nyge, how are you feeling?
Nyge: I am. I'm pretty scared. But I’m hyped, though. I got, like, a lot of energy going on right now. Like, Woo!
Dominique: (laughs) I’m so excited.
Georgia: Should I turn off the light in my closet to make it spookier?
Dominique: Oh, my God. It's so “Blair Witch Project” in your closet! Okay. Ready?
Georgia & Nyge: Yeah. Yeah.
All: Three, two, one. Play. Go!
Nyge: Oh, shoot. Oh, my gosh. Kids, man. Kids!
Georgia: Don't have children and definitely don't bring them into the woods!! Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh, no.
Nyge: The first scene???
Georgia: This is a film about bad behavior.
Nyge: The first scene. And this is just hilarious.
Dominique: If you could see my face this whole time, I am grinning ear to ear. I'm having so much fun.
Nyge: Oh, my gosh.
Nyge: Another kid this time??
Georgia: Aw, his face is so sweaty…
Nyge: They're going to have no kids left…
Georgia: Nyge, you can't cover your eyes. That's the whole thing.
Nyge: Ah hah hah. I don't like jump scares. I got to just jump already. Pre-jump. Pre-jump.
Georgia: Oh, she's pregnant too?? Are you serious?
Nyge:Oh, she’s pregnant.
Georgia: So many.
Nyge: Why are you moving, John?
Georgia: He's trying to defend his family. (Nyge: Stop it!) Stay back.
Nyge: Let me go. Let me go right next to the window. Oh, my gosh. This is so wack. Uh, where are your weapons?
Georgia: Oh, oh, oh no. Whaoh!
Georgia: Oh, yeah. These raccoons are about to be toast. Ooh, ooh, ooh.
Nyge: Hey, man, I don't like raccoons, anyway, so.
Dominique: Nyge is just like —
Nyge: We good!
Dominique: To raccoons.
Nyge: Now I feel like Dom. Hahaha! Just kidding. Shout out to you.
Dominique: Friggin trash pandas. (laughs)
Georgia: She going to - literally about to have a baby right now.
Nyge: Oh. And she has to stay quiet. (Georgia: Oh. Oh.) That's got to be impossible. Ahh!!!!!!
Nyge: Oh my god! (laughs)
Georgia: Oh, no, no, no, no, no.
Nyge: Then after you… He knows how to use a handrail? How smart are these things?
Georgia: Why is it holding the banister?
Dominique: That’s where Nyge draws the line!
Georgia: Why does it look like it just went to the nail salon and got some new claws?? Uuuuh!!!
Georgia: The suspense!
Nyge: Fireworks is a good idea.
Dominique: I know, right?
Nyge: They be thinking.
Dominique:: They be thinking on that thing. (laughs with Nyge)
Georgia: Noooo! What? Ugh.
Nyge: I don't think he's dead.
Georgia: Yeah, I wouldn't be too sure about that.
Nyge: What??? Bruh, stop looking at her!!! Aaah! Oh my goodness.
Georgia: Oh, no.
Nyge: It drew a whole colony.
Georgia: Really? Cut to —
Dominique: All riiiight. (laughs) Soooo, how are we feeling?
Nyge: I feel like I could take on the world!!
Dominique and Nyge: (laugh)
Georgia: I feel very engrossed.
Nyge: You know what it felt like?
Nyge: It felt like roller coasters. Like I'm scared of roller coasters. I don't like roller coasters at all. But every time that I've gotten off a roller coaster, I feel like this kind of sense of, like, I did it. Like, now I'm not even scared of roller coasters anymore, until somebody brings up, like, “Let's get on another one!”
Dominique: Yeah, that, like, sense of invincibility. (laughs)
Georgia: Right now, in the safety of this friend group, I feel very, like, safe, but I know that later tonight, I'm going to be, like, tiptoeing around.
Dominique: Have you ever felt that same way before any other first thing?
Georgia: Well, to follow the theme, I remember being 13 and going to a haunted house for the first time with a friend I didn't know very well, and she wasn't a very huggy person. And so, I felt really like alone going in, because I couldn't, like, grab her and scream. And it was very scary for me. And this, it did remind me of that trepidation of like, “I'm about to put myself into an experience that's going to make my body feel uncomfortable.” But the difference is that I think I felt very secure because I was like, “I'm with people who make me feel secure in myself.” I hope we never have to confront an actual monster. But if we did, I feel like I'd feel more prepared because I'd be like, I have people who have my back with me.
Dominique: So I'm hearing that we're going to start a scary movie club in the sanctity of this — (everyone laughs)
Dominique: We are all going to start watching scary movies. (laughs)
Nyge: You know what else is interesting too?
Nyge: Like, I felt like the more that I talked to y’all about what was going on, and about what was scary to me, it — as I said it out loud, it became less and less scary. And so I think that's like a really cool thing too, like that could be applied to other things. Like certain things have so much power over you, but like when you actually speak them out loud and communicate and like talk to other people and experience it with other people, then yeah. Just having that, like, support kind of takes the power out of really scary things.
Georgia: It does make me feel like, like maybe having a, like, a lifelong “I'm not going to watch horror movies” has actually made horror movies seem scarier than they actually are, because I've been avoiding them. Something about actually seeing the thing. You're like, “Oh, this is like CGI.” You know? It feels less scary than when they, like, sort of hint at it around a shadowy corner. That's the part that really gets my imagination rockin and rolling.
Dominique: Yeah. And I think that's super applicable to anything. That the more power you give the fear around doing something for the first time, and the longer you give it that power, the stronger it becomes. Whereas if you can find the friendship and find the support and kind of take it one step at a time, you can kind of do anything.
Nyge: Our little movie premiere reminded our team of how intense first times could be. With that in mind, we decided to talk to someone who’s made their own first time fear equally public. Erianna Jiles is a journalist, podcast producer and creative writer. She spent the past year writing columns about all the things that she wished she knew before she started her first full-time job. She's learning as she goes and sharing key lessons along the way.
Erianna: Hi Nyge. My name is Erianna. Also known as Erianna Speaks and I am a journalist and storyteller. And ever since I got into college, I've definitely leaned into that a lot more and have just kind of been in the storytelling and audio and podcasting space ever since.
Nyge: So this episode is all about first times. You publicized one of yours in a column called “Post Grad Diary” for YR Media. Can you tell us a bit about the first time that you started your career after college?
Erianna: Yes, so I actually started my career after college recently, like literally within the last year.
Nyge: Congrats. Congrats.
Erianna: Thank you. Pretty scary stuff. It's been an interesting time because I didn't even think that I was going to graduate college. So, like, to get to this point has been, like, a miracle.
Nyge: Why didn’t you think you were going to graduate college?
Erianna: No one in my family graduated college. My mom has did some schooling, but she got pregnant when she was, like, 19. And then my dad is from the South, and I think he stopped going to school actually as like a middle schooler. So I just didn't really have, like, a good foundation for, like, education or where it could take me. And so that's why when I did graduate around that time, it was exciting, but also really scary because I was entering territory in a path that I had no idea or like roadmap for.
Nyge: When did you start, like believing that was a possibility for you?
Erianna: Well, let me say I definitely was on an untraditional path going to school. So right after high school, I did go to a community college, which like felt like a bummer because all my peers that I were in these like accelerated classes with were going to universities. So I was like salty about that. So I went to community college for two years. And then, when those two years were up, I transferred to North Dakota State University. But then, in that year, it was like the worst year of my life. I was away from home. I was also in a much more predominantly white, like, environment. And also I was doing now like real college work as opposed to like doing general ed work. That was the moment, or like the turning point for me in my decision to like pursue college even more. So after that first year there, I decided to come back home because it wasn't a good fit. And so then from there, I enrolled in another university called Metro State. And then, that's when things like started to take off. So I was majoring in journalism, and that's when I was like, “Oh shit, this is fun. And also like, I can graduate with a degree like this. Like I can like actually envision myself having a job that has to do with this or playing with words in this way.” And so, that's kind of like the first time where I was like, “Oh, snap, I can go to college and like build a career off of this.” So it really did take me like three years of school to then be like, “Oh, I can make this like a reality.”
Nyge: Coming from that, can you tell us about your first time starting your career?
Erianna: So I started my first job after college. Like, I landed it like a month or two before I graduated. And so that was hectic, right? Because I, I felt low-key like an imposter at that point because I was like, “Dang, I'm trying to finish up these classes and they're looking kind of iffy. And then like, I just landed this job, so like, I don't really know how that's about to play out.” And so I did it and I basically didn't really have any breathing room. Like my last day of class was like one week. And then the following week I started my job.
I started my job as a podcast producer. And so, I was immediately like put on two shows — like a weekly show and a narrative show, and I was immediately sent out on a reporting trip for that narrative show. And so, I mean, shoot, at the time, I was like blooming with like readiness for the world! Like I was starting this new job. I was finally able to make more money, like real money. So as soon as I got this job, I, like, got an apartment — a one bedroom. Hello!? Well, that’s, that's big. That's really big! It's expensive out here in the streets! So that happened. And then I was having this opportunity to go do some reporting, which is like what like had been a dream to do since I was in college. And so everything, I don't know, everything was moving pretty fast. But I felt really ready to like, get in there and get things done.
Nyge: I had a similar experience too. I found out about this job in biology class one day. Like, I found out that like YR Media was doing a talent search. And then, when I got hired, I honestly didn’t think that they were going to pick me. And then, when I got hired out of like the whole talent search, it was like all of these different responsibilities just like fell in my lap. Like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. This is everything that you ever ask for. This is the career that you want to be in. All these things at one time. And for me, it was pretty overwhelming. But it's weird when stuff is like positive and overwhelming, you like, don't really know how to feel about it. So much to the point where you feel like guilty for being overwhelmed by positive things because you know, you can so easily be the opposite. But is that something that you felt also?
Erianna: Yeah, I feel that 100%. I definitely was like, “Okay, they may have hired a fraud because like I just came out of college or whatever, and now I'm doing like all this big creative work.” And in this creative industry, you feel like, “I don't really know how that's going to play out." I was thinking to myself, “Like, well, I'm here, clearly they see something in me that maybe I may not be able to see right now. But like clearly, I was chosen to be here for a reason. And I have this skillset and the, and the smarts and like all that kind of stuff.” So I was just like, even though I didn't know what I was necessarily getting into or what I was up for, I was like ready to do it. Because I had, I had like went to college and navigated that part for like five years. I, I'm like, “I need to like really lean into this and like try to just, like do it.”
Nyge: Do you think that anything could have prepared you for that moment?
Erianna: It would be nice if college truly prepared me, right? Like college doesn't prepare you for your first job and like, high school doesn't prepare you to, like, know how to do your taxes or like something like that. (Nyge: Exactly.) Yeah, but I think that for the most part, I had been proactive about setting myself up well. So I had always been in like, doing little community-like projects or signing up to do radio stories or joining journalism programs to like, build out my like foundation to be in this industry. But I honestly will say, like without having mentors in my life, I would not have been slightly prepared for this. You know, it was really helpful to always talk to people who had known in the industry or just like grab coffee with people to really like get a sense of what I was going to be getting myself into. My mentors are people in my community who I knew that were doing similar work. They were always kind of like on a pedestal. But when I like, got into my first job, then we were kind of all on the same playing field because they are in it too, and they're still trying to figure out how to navigate it.
Nyge: Right. So I'm curious about the emotional side of it. Like emotionally, what were some things that you had to prepare yourself for? When you talk about things like work-life balance and, you know, separating, you know, your job from your personal life and keeping that healthy.
Erianna: Yeah, I think compared to college, you know, even though I was on my laptop for like a certain amount of hours doing homework or writing for, for my assignments, like I definitely didn't have to do that five days a week for 8 hours a day. You know, like there is some finessing when you're in college or whatever. Like, I could cram in like do stuff the night before if I wanted to.
One thing that I found extremely emotionally taxing, I think after the first month, entering the second month, I was like, “Oh my God, I'm so, like, physically tired of like sitting in this chair and staring at this screen for 8 hours a day, like, there's no way.” And at the time, I definitely didn't know how to take breaks. I didn't, I didn't have that license over myself. And then at the same time, my job was remote and has been since I started. And so, there was also this piece of like, okay, I work 8 hours a day in my one bedroom apartment by myself. And then, “Oh it’s 5. It's time for me to get off. I'm going to go to the couch now.” And “Oh snap!” Then, then by like, oh, maybe that's Monday. And then by Thursday I'm like, “Oh, snap. I've done this for like four days in a row and I haven't left my apartment and I haven't really talked to anybody outside of, like, on Zoom or like maybe a text message! Like this is like, oh my God!” So I got into a sunken place about that. And then, that's when I really started to think about this Post Grad Diary series and like — and that's when I really got into looking up how to, like, combat this. What were people talking about? And I noticed that there wasn't any, like, Black girls like me really talking about it or just in general. Or if there was some stuff about like work-life balance, it was really about more of that self-care piece, but it wasn't like deep or super practical. It was like, “Do a face mask and like and like, I don't know, go outside for like a minute and go on a walk.” And I'm like, “Go on a walk?! I live in Minnesota and it's freezing outside. Are you kidding me? Never.”
Like, no. And also by the time I got to six months, I started experiencing burnout for the first time and I was like —
Erianna: Oh, no. Like, this is like, horrible.
And also my creative like, well, was getting dry. Working in a creative industry — and even as a producer, like, you're, it's your job to come up with fresh ideas. And it was like, “Dang, like I haven't left my house in a couple of days. Like, I don't know, I was there. This dream. Yeah, I'm. I don't feel inspired. Like, this is wack.” Yeah, the emotional taxes came very quickly.
Nyge: What advice would you give people in their careers or other avenues venturing out into things for the first time?
Erianna: Well, first and foremost, you got to just do it, right? To move forward. You got to step into new things at some point. You want to create some memories for yourself. You want to, like, be able to look back on whatever time it was that you were doing something for the first time to be like, “I am so proud of myself that I did that.” Or like, “That was such a chaotic time, but like, I did that! And wasn't that wild?” Like, you know what I'm saying? So I'm all about doing that kind of stuff. That's the advice I would give, really, is just you got to do it. Like that’s as simple as it gets.
Nyge: Definitely. So on this show, I usually end every episode with my takeaways from whatever subject that we talked about. But this time we wanted to open it up to you and ask you for some of your post grad takeaways. Experiencing all these different things for the first time.
Erianna: Yeah, my biggest takeaways. Mentorship goes a long way. Even though if you — it really it really sucks to have to, like, ask someone to, like, guide you, but, like, it's very necessary, especially if you find yourself not knowing what move to make next or like which direction to go in.
So definitely aspire to people who have already been in your shoes, I would say. What else? Another one of my big takeaways in my first year is asking for help. In my job that looks like, literally asking for help when you don't know what to do. Or like naming things and clarifying when things aren't like, you know, like aren't making sense on the job.
But also, outside of work, like, um, you know, going to therapy and like things like that really do help you kind of like stay, stay — I don't know how to describe this, but, like, stay in focus to what you're doing. Naming things and just being honest about when things aren't working well for you. And that goes back to my like, one of my columns called Ask Your Job for What You Need. Like, I had a rough time, really like trying to express myself at work and not knowing the language to use when I need to express myself.
Erianna: So I would say, you know, when things feel uncomfortable, sit with it. But also, just like express it. Say something when something doesn't feel right or isn't right, you know? Like I've definitely taken a lot of pride in being outspoken. Like, that's the legacy I choose to leave wherever I go.
Um, you know, like, the goal of my series is really to, um, just create some conversations around what's not talked about. And yes, going to college and starting that journey is like a whole is like a crazy and wild one within itself. But also, this like transition from college into your first job and career is also worth talking about. And it's also very challenging.
And yeah, I just don't hear content for that. Like there was not a place I could go to for that kind of comfort. So right now I have to find other ways to make it work or like, find content that, like, really motivates me or soothes me when things get uncomfortable. But, um, yeah, I would just say, like. For anybody who's out there, like in college, thinking about their first job or in their first job right now or in between jobs, whatever the case may be. like, you know, it's going to be uncomfortable at first, but you will find your way. And at the end of the day, it's all a learning lesson. Like you will end up where you need to be, like in your own head and in the real world. So like, that's the last thing I want to say.
Nyge: If you want to follow Erianna, you can find her on Twitter and Instagram @eriannaspeaks. You can also check out her columns on YR.Media.
Dominique: So the very first time I quote unquote kissed someone was in middle school where all of the lawless, bad, no good things take place — the back of the bus. I and a certain little gentle person were on our regular bus routes in which we were always the last two people left on the bus. We lived in the same neighborhood and we had since I was in the third grade. So me and this person, let's call him Jason. Me and Jason were on the bus where we sat together at the end of every day, just, you know, being in middle school, being like flirty, as flirty as anyone in middle school really can be, which is just, I don't know, like, looking at each other and then looking away and then maybe looking back? I don't know. How do you flirt in middle school? And there was one day where I was emboldened by hormones, probably, and we usually shared gum. That was our thing, the Trident orange-flavored gum. And he only had one piece that day. And so he took it without asking me if I wanted to share it or anything. And I, in a moment of just like blazing glory was like, “I should have some of that.” And he was like, “What do you mean?” And I was like, “Well, maybe if you've already had it, maybe we should just kiss? And then I'll have had some gum, too.” (laughs) Playah playah!
And so we proceeded to kiss. Without touching lips, only touching tongues. And to this day, I consider that to be my first quote unquote kiss.
Nyge: So the first time that I'm going to talk about right now is the first time I ever drove a car. So, basically I was with my dad in a Ross parking lot and I told him I wanted to drive. I think I was like 14 — 13, 14? And I drove on, like, his lap before, like, you know, the steering wheel or whatever. But this was the first time I was going to actually, like, get to drive. So I sit in the seat and I put both of my feet — one on the gas pedal, one on the brake. And that was the first mistake because he was like, “Yo, yo, yo, yo, what are you what are you doing? What are you doing?” So I'm thrown off and he's like, “No, you just drive with one foot.” I think we go about like ten feet. And I just hit the brake. I didn't know the brake was going to be that sensitive. And my dad, like, hits the dashboard, like, when I hit the brake. If I'm being honest, I kind of hit the dashboard, too. And that was pretty it for my dad teaching me how to drive. After that, my dad was like, “Nah, I'm not teaching you. You'll figure it out.” So I had to look up a driver school that I saw. Like, I saw like the phone number of a driver's school when we were driving one day. I wrote it down and then I learned how to drive from them, which was another interesting story, because every time I met with that driver's trainer, like, he just had me run his errands. So that was interesting. Like we had to pick his wife up from the airport. And then another time we, like, picked up food. He did buy me some food though. So shout outs to bruh. Yeah that was my first experiences driving.
Georgia: So I am an incredibly emotional, hormonal 12-year-old, 13-year-old. And I've been writing in my journal about my crush, who we're going to call Timmy. Lil Timmy. For weeks I am just talking about how much I just can't wait for Timmy to ask me to dance at the Valentine's Day dance. I'm just so excited to go to one of my first dances ever. So I've just been like journaling and I am just like, “Oh my God, Timmy, Timmy, Timmy.” Like, I can't get this person out of my brain. I'm thinking about it 24/7. I've talked to all my friends about it. Everybody knows. When I got to the dance, I still remember all the, like, little streamers and decorations and the like, dark middle school cafeteria with some, like, truly horrible music playing. And finally, the slow dance came along and I was like, “Oh, my God, this is it. This is it!"
And sure enough, a little red haired Timmy came up to me and he was like, “Georgia, go you want to dance?”
And we start dancing. So there is a lot of pressure on, which probably in retrospect is why I just got so overwhelmed, that I ran out of the cafeteria and started bawling in the hallway. Full crying, mascara running, you know, little high heels off, just like melting down for no reason that I could understand. Again, very hormonal. And little Timmy, to his credit, comes out and he's, like, clearly terrified. And he's like, “Hey, Georgia. Are you okay?” And I go, “I just, I like you. I just. I just. We’re just so young!”
And he, he looks at me. He maybe rubs my back a little bit very delicately, as you know, one would sort of rub like somebody who is like throwing up or something. Like you don't really want to get that near them. And I don't think I went back into the dance that night. I think I probably called my mom to take me home because I just wasn't ready. I wasn't ready for that first time.
Nyge: Some things that are really sticking with me from this episode are that when it comes to first times, it can be really helpful to name the fact that they are uncomfortable and difficult. Chances are, everyone that's going through a similar experience feels the same. And even though first times are always a little scary, having friends, family, or any type of support system is key in getting you through.
Since this show is all about the first time we are having a first timer, one of our listeners, do our credits. Take it away, Krista Scott.
Krista: Thanks, Nyge! Adult ISH is produced by YR Media, a national network of young journalists and artists creating content for this generation.
The show is produced by Georgia Wright, Dominique French and Nyge Turner.
Our executive producer is Rebecca Martin.
YR’s Director of Podcasts is Ray Archie.
Original music for this episode was created by these young musicians at YR: Christian Romo, Anders Knutstad, and Jacob Armenta. Music Direction by Oliver “Kuya” Rodriguez and Maya Drexler. Art for this episode created by Ariam Michael.
Nyge: Um, can we just get that line one more time? Yeah, but you're doing great —
Krista: You're so sweet. Okay.
Art for this episode was created by Ariam Michael, a young artist at YR, and another first timer on the show.
Art Direction from Brigado Bautista and Marjorie Masicat. Creative Direction by Pedro Vega, Jr. Special thanks to Eli Arbreton.
Adult ISH is also proud to be a member of Radiotopia by PRX, an independent, listener-supported collective of some of the most amazing shows in all of podcasting. Find them at Radiotopia.fm. And if you haven't reviewed the show on Apple Podcasts, please be sure that you do. Five stars is much appreciated. You can follow Adult ish on all the socials @YRAdultISH. And on that note, K-Star out! (Yay!)