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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


How do you let it out at work?

I got in huge trouble last week at work - yelled at, cursed at .... it was the week from hell because I had had to work between 16-20 hours a day and was thus getting 1-4 hours of sleep a night. We had a huge event all last week, and I got saddled with basically being in charge of everything. I had to deal with the public for all of those 16-20 hours a day - replete with all of their demands and complaints about how things were being run (over which I had no control). To top it off, staff and the big boss blamed me for every little thing. I'm the office scapegoat right now, apparently - and I don't know how much longer I can take it.

And why did I get in huge trouble? I complained. By thursday, I had just had it - I was exhausted, overwhelmed, depleted, and felt like everything I did was wrong and bad. I just started venting because I felt unsupported by our management and really not well treated.

And my complaints got back to my boss, and I got yelled at.

I feel like whenever I make a mistake, it becomes some huge thing. Others seem to get a lot of leeway when they make mistakes - they couldn't do any better, they don't know better, they are under stress -- whatever. There are always extenuating circumstances. But with me, I'm expected to just always do better.

After I got yelled at, I got a long email from my boss reiterating what I had done wrong (which I got in the middle of my long, stressful shift). She then came over and iterated it again. Over the weekend I got yet another email, and today I got another talking to.

I waffle so much - on the one hand, I feel deeply ashamed for what I did. I should not complain to my co-workers - I should suck it up and just focus on the work. When I complain, it causes huge problems.

On the other hand, I think - who around me isn't complaining? My boss complains to me all the time. Other staff do as well. They all complain to each other. I was exhorted to be more professional - but I don't see examples of modeling of professional behavior anywhere around me. Is yelling and cursing at me and calling me "a little shit" and example of professional behavior? Telling me that my coworkers are stupid - is that professional?

Mostly, I feel like total crap at my job. The big boss still hates me (and my boss continues to tell me what he says about me, which hurts like hell)- despite how hard I worked last week. I make so many mistakes, and it makes me feel incompetent. I feel like an absolute failure in terms of my abilities at work, and my interpersonal failings. At times like this, I feel absolutely hopeless of ever finding a job and a work environment where I am ok. I feel like I must suck so much, that I will never fit in anywhere.

And I know - I need a new job. I'm looking - it's not easy. I also really have a need to make things work here.

So, here's my question to you all - when you get upset, when you feel frustrated, when you feel hurt - what do you do? How do you manage feelings at work? Do you complain to co-workers? Do the things you say to co-workers ever leaked? Right now, all I want to do is just hide in my office and not interact with people anymore because everything I do is so wrong (I was also told that my jokes are not okay because they get misinterpreted, and that actually a lot of what I say is misinterpreted).


At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have Aspergers. Have you ever considered that you have it, too? Maybe not. Maybe I am out of line. But a lot of what you describe sounds so familiar to me. Sorry if I am out of line. It helped me when I was diagnosed with Aspergers--it helped to understand why things that came easily to everyone else were difficult for me. I just wanted to try to help.

I need to remind myself to regulate my breathing and talk in my head about keeping things in perspective and remembering that my job does not equal who I am when I get in trouble or frustrated at work. It sometimes helps.

Good luck.


At 11:50 PM, Blogger Propter Doc said...

I have three approaches. The first is hiding in the washroom and crying. The second is going nuts and yelling at people. The third is refusing to talk to anyone for a period of time. Yeah, I'm like really mature and never mentally left high school. I don't complain to coworkers, I couldn't deal with the environment you describe. I wish you respectful colleagues and decent working conditions. You deserve better.

At 1:56 AM, Blogger StyleyGeek said...

Your colleagues sound horrible. You poor thing.

I complain to coworkers a lot lately, and I have started to worry it might get back to people in charge and get me in trouble. I just feel so powerless because no one "upstairs" takes responsibility for the sucky ways things are done around the place, and so I don't feel there is a "right" person to complain to. Still, I know my complaints would be taken as personal insults if they were reported to the higher ups.

Anyway, I feel for you, although I can't imagine what it would be like to work 20 hour days. I would go insane.

At 2:07 AM, Blogger post-doc said...

I'm so sorry to hear that your environment is so intensely awful. I truly can't imagine working such long hours in such a place and I'm truly and hugely sympathetic.

I do get bothered at work though, and I tend to complain to friends. I see how working 20 hours a day with the public doesn't leave excessive time to email people though, so it's not a real solution for you. I hope something changes or you find a different job soon. I also wish I had something more useful to offer you here.

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Anastasia said...

I have vented to my student colleagues and had it find its way back to the department chair and dgs. I felt like I sort of got in trouble but that only means I got called in for an unpleasant conversation. as soon as I explained myself and apologized, it was all smoothed over.

I'm not sure why a competent and secure boss would feel threatened by a little venting. or even a lot of venting. and cursing you out? in any context? so unprofessional. I can't think of anything you could have possibly done to deserve that. You just didn't. she sucks.

besides that, the manager has some responsibility for the work environment, so if people are venting and/or morale is generally low, maybe the manager isn't doing a very good job.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger dr four eyes said...


When I don't have a *trusted* colleague to vent to (which is often), I write a draft of a blog post about whatever is frustrating/upsetting me. Usually, I do this in gmail (not work email or a Word doc). Just to make sure it doesn't accidentally get sent to the wrong person, or anyone, I never address it to anyone. Once I'm done writing, I save it as a draft and move on as best I can.

95% of these emails never actually become blog posts--I go back later and delete the drafts--but it's helpful to write as if I'm writing to an audience, not just myself.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Seeking Solace said...


I have dealt with evil, rage-o-holic bosses. I have also dealt with people at work who I thought I could vent or confide in. Both have cause me great stress and grief. What I have learned is that why these people do what the do has less to do with you and more with their own insecutities and issues.

What I have learned is that I do not vent to co-workers. It just ends up resulting in soemone who has less than noble intentions. I go for a walk, I take deep breaths, I vent to those who I know will listen and be supportive. And like eveyone else, I write either as a draft blog post or in my journal.

Once again, big hugs.

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Ianqui said...

Calling you "a little shit" and saying that your coworkers are stupid are not professional behaviors under anyone's definition. I'd certainly say your boss crossed the line.

It can take a long time to find a job, and I hope you'll be able to do that while continuing on where you are for as long as you can. But it really sounds like you need to get out.

At 7:35 PM, Blogger Limon de Campo said...

This might sound trite, but I try to remind myself that my self-worth is not based on my job. It helps when I remind myself that I'm still valuable, even if I'm not appreciated. I also try to remember that other people's problems aren't my problems (even if they think they are.)

All easier said than done, of course, but it helps to remind myself of these things.

I admire you for sticking this out. I think I would've walked out by now.

At 11:27 PM, Blogger Psycgirl said...

I've vented to colleagues and friends before and it has gotten back to my bosses. So now I generally try to only vent to people I really really trust and generally vent what I think I would discuss with my boss if he/she approached me after hearing about one of my complaints.

But overall, I try to vent to someone outside of the situation, because all too often people are willing to screw you over by sharing the negative things you said. And when I start to feel socially overwhelmed (i.e., sick of people) like you are, I make sure to take a social time out. For example, I might decide to spend a whole weekend without going out, etc. I need time to socially recover.

I'm sorry you got yelled at and reprimanded soooo many times. That just seems inappropriate and designed to make you feel bad about yourself!


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