Oh dear

Things are not going well at work. I’m sorry, as any readers know, this is not an inspirational type blog. I’ll try not to whine though.

So my co-worker who is in charge or training me kept impressing upon me how very picky the bosses there were about details, how careful I needed to be. So, being anxiety prone as I am, and badly needing this job to work out at least for a few months, I tried too hard I think, and in the process, rather messed up.

My work is all about following whatever standards they have for documents, but, as I didn’t know, they actually don’t have standards for a lot of obvious things, like consistency in capitalization and hyphenation, and even in how lists should be formatted. So I was constantly asking questions about these details, and some other things, and in the process, gave the impression of not being competent. That’s what I think happened.

It turns out that everyone there is under a lot of stress to simply get these documents signed off, and do not appreciate interruptions. So the boss, who is quiet but tense, began to dislike me. He only would communicate with me through this co-worker.

Then a week ago, I received a document but did not hear anyone mention a deadline. Now I know I should have been asking specifically. It was actually due only an hour or so after I received it. That would have been impossible anyway, but as I didn’t know about it, at noon, off I went for a short lunch. Then when I got back, I learned they wanted it posted by noon.

Then a bunch of technical things went wrong, and in the end, it wasn’t posted until after four.

Now the boss really hasn’t spoken to me since, but I learned from the co-worker that this was not good. Also she said she intervened for me, telling my side of the story. Who knows what she said – she actually didn’t know the details. Since the boss never approached me about this, I didn’t have a chance to talk about it. Anyway, in a way, when things go wrong, it’s all about your reputation. If they hold you in high esteem, they are likely to attribute the problem to external circumstances. If they don’t, they blame you.

Since then, I haven’t got any work to do, though I do show up and they are paying me still. The co-worker said that this is actually a lull, though she had more to do than I did, but for her it’s been slow as well. So I decided that I wasn’t being punished, that’s just how it goes there. It is hard to put in eight solid hours with no work. I started doing microsoft tutorials to at least improve my skills.

I’m thinking of taking some medication or at least calming supplements while working. Because I know my anxiety makes a terrible impression. And it’s taking a major toll on me – I’m just tired all the time. Kind of teary all the time I guess.

I’m taking short breaks in the afternoon to walk around the parking lot outside. It is quite pleasant there really, because the office building is beside a farm on one side and a scrubby wooded area on the other, so it’s a bit of a glimpse of the country. Also lots of sky, which is scarce in the middle of Toronto where I live. I have been admiring the February skies, which are a particular clear baby blue, and the many types of clouds we get at this time of year. Those short walks are really nice.

Because I’m so anxious, I’m also making these little distress calls to a friend on the break. He talks me down quite a bit. I keep getting paranoid that I’m going to be fired, or trying to figure out what various things might mean. He just keeps saying – think of your daily rate going into your bank account – what about that? Which is a good thing to think about.

I hope I’m not exploiting his good nature. The calls are only about ten minutes long.

I suffer from having no friend there. I was trying to make a pal of a BA who sits in an opposite cubicle and is also pretty isolated. He’s also a contractor. However, he’s not that receptive. He’s vaguely pleasant, but has no big interest in being pals. I think. Or perhaps I’m being negative.

I do feel I cannot trust my thoughts, because they are driven by anxiety. I know I have to manage how I am viewed. This is a problem that has dogged me. In communications, how you come across is huge, unfortunately for me. Mostly, people can’t judge your actual skill, as it’s not a hard skill. Hence I’m thinking medication. Because when things happen fast, there just isn’t time to apply skills. Well, I’ll see.

  1. Nechtan said:

    Hi Ellen,From experience I do think this lull is playing a big part in your thinking. I remember clearly the day flying by when I had more work than I could fit into a day. Even the stress of that is not so apparent until later because your mind has more important things to think about. Having nothing to do though for 8 hours is soul destroying. In my last workplace I had nearly 3 years of that every day. It is tiring but not in a good way. Its a sort of agitated tiredness because there is little purpose to it.I do think having this time on your hands is making you more aware of your surroundings. And an anxious mind likes to start stringing thoughts together and building scenarios in a negative way that wouldn't happen if it was occupied. I also remember that impending doom feeling of waiting for the call to the office or being led out the building. Its just horrible.I hope the work picks up for you. Please though remember that even people who are not anxious feel the same way in these situations. Not that it is much comfort but as long as you know it is a natural response to a situation you have no control over. As you are doing just now the best thing is to put your mind into some sort of activity like brushing up on some skills.There will be better days ahead when the circumstances change. All the bestNechtan

  2. Ellen said:

    That's just what I needed to hear Nechtan, thanks so much. Even after posting this, I started thinking that I need to watch my thoughts again – they're going very very negative on me. I do have time to do that at least – time to write thoughts out and reframe. It is a help to think that anyone would be nervous in this kind of situation. I'm amazed you stuck it out for three years! cheers

  3. Nechtan said:

    Hi Ellen,I have to be honest and say sticking it out that long done me more bad than good. But you know how it is. I had a second child on the way and couldn't find employment elsewhere so just had to keep with it purely for financial reasons. By far the biggest problem for me though was that at the time I didn't see how problematic it was. Were I too do it again I would have occupied myself more instead for spending all day in introspection- which is not healthy for anyone.I hope the work picks up for you soon. In the meantime you are doing the right things by keeping yourself busy. I know how hard these times are and how much dread there is in the mornings but I know you will be ok. Reframing your thoughts for example will make a big difference.All the bestNechtan

  4. Susan said:

    Ellen; it is very difficult to make it in the larger world when the one in my head says that I'm not doing so hot. I know it's tough and this is a scary place to be – and I don't have any pat answers but please know that you are not alone. My thoughts are there with you. I believe in you 🙂

  5. Ellen said:

    @ Nechtan – Of course I know how it is… 🙂 The need to have money coming in does make us put up with an awful lot. You did the right thing sticking it out for your family. I actually feel a lot better this week, having vented and then realizing that I need to stay positive. There is a lot of good in having a rest from anxiety about money…and being paid to take tutorials isn't all that bad. Thanks for the insights.@Susan – Thanks Susan, so kind. Yes, it's the world in our heads that is the major problem so often.

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