I have had a pretty bad week at work. Almost every day has involved a conversation with a boss at some level. At first I was discussing issues I had with how other people were behaving towards me, and then it was discovered that I had made an error in judgment and suddenly I was the one apologizing and vowing to be better. And of course, feeling terrible about myself all over again, because this was a pretty major mistake that involved apologies on my boss’s part to people higher up in the company.
Last week, when I was already miserable after January not being the fresh start I had hoped for after a dismal fall and winter at work following an unwanted management change for my department, one of my coworkers noticed I’d been 元気ない (not cheerful/energetic) lately. I talked to her privately on Facebook later and told her some of what I was going through, and she was very supportive. It meant a lot. Then today, my former boss (who’s about to transition to a new role in a different department and is now more or less killing time in our department but not acting as our official supervisor anymore) also sent me a message saying I seemed 元気ない lately and offering to talk. It was really nice, because I had actually been considering asking to talk to him about everything because he’s been with the company since he graduated college, and if he’s stuck with it this far he must know something. But at the same time I didn’t even know where to begin so I hadn’t asked him yet. I’m glad he asked me first and showed me that he’d noticed. Even though he’s not my boss anymore, he’s still a way better boss than either of my two official bosses are…
So we talked for two hours (!!!) and I came away feeling SO much better. He feels the exact same way I do about all the management changes (which have effectively pushed him out), but he’s also put up with a lot worse over the years at this company, and – in my opinion – triumphed. He was once slapped upside the head by a former boss, who was wearing a thick ring which actually CUT HIS HEAD. HE GAVE HIM A HEAD INJURY. I cannot believe this is okay, at all. Another person forced my former boss to bow and give a formal apology to 100 of the employees during a group presentation, which was of course humiliating.
When I heard all this, my immediate reaction was “Why didn’t you quit?? I would have quit. I would have been out of there that instant after being INJURED and also HUMILIATED like that.” I don’t know why he didn’t (possibly an American vs. Japanese cultural way of thinking thing, although he grew up largely overseas so he’s not the typical Japanese guy), but he stayed (despite the guy who slapped him eventually kicking him off his team) and he thrived. He got a promotion to head of a team, he was transferred to be head of a new team (the team I eventually joined), and now he’s going to be an even bigger head of another new team. The guy who slapped him even admitted he was a good employee in the end. If he’d quit, that would never have happened.
It was really inspirational. Honestly, I’ve been wanting to quit. I feel humiliated and like I’ve fucked things up for good with my coworkers, so I might as well just leave because hardly anyone wants me around. I can’t work by the rules, which change frequently, and I feel stifled and constrained. I have a hard time managing my time well, but I also keep feeling pressured to take on extra work which gets me behind on my regular work, and then I get criticized all around for missing deadlines. I’m unhappy and resentful about all the changes and I just keep stewing over past injustices done to me and I rebel hard against the idea of obediently doing what I’m told. I’ve been trying hard to fix things like my relationships with my coworkers, which my bluntness and overly critical nature has left in tatters, but it feels like I’m just treading water and I keep making mistakes that land me back in trouble. So why don’t I just leave and find somewhere I can make a fresh start and this time be extra careful NOT to make the mistakes I made the first time??
Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling, but after hearing his story, I feel a little more inspired and determined to stay and make the best of it. Also, as much as I hate that it happened, having my error discovered (and by the way, I could have chosen to lie and say it wasn’t me who did it, but I owned up to it immediately) has reset my bad attitude. I went from resentful victim to humbled and contrite. I hope it doesn’t end up working against me in the end (which it will if I don’t prove I can move past this and not make a similar mistake of any kind ever again), because as sucky as it is, it might have been just what I needed. My manager, by the way, is deeply skeptical and suspicious of me now. She has serious doubts about whether I can really avoid similar mistakes in the future. She thinks I try to decide things on my own and need to stop (and I do). It sucks, but I guess I don’t blame her and I should just be grateful that she’s not viewing this as a firable offense. Anyway, I feel determined now to just lay low and do my job and nothing outside of my job and show her that I can be a good, obedient employee. Most of all, I just want to stay off her radar, because attracting her attention (and wrath) is NOT a good thing. I know that because of the company’s current financial situation, we can’t hire anyone new until June, and if I were fired the other two people on my team would have to do a LOT of extra work, so she’s not going to fire me for the time being – only if I keep making mistakes. But I’m not going to. My goal for now is to successfully law low and complete my job in a timely manner so that by June I’m a model employee.
[Edit: Realized later that my type of job is 正社員 which means I cannot be fired unless I am like arrested or embezzle from the company or something, so I have complete job security.]
But yeah. I’m really so, so glad I talked to him today, and that he was willing to talk to me as long as I needed, and that he noticed I’d been feeling down and cared enough to try to help. When I got the message from him saying “hey, you seem 元気ない lately. if you need to talk, I’m available”, my eyes welled up with tears, I was so moved. I actually had to try REALLY hard not to cry while I was talking with him, but that’s also like every serious conversation I’ve had at work lately. Being off meds = I could burst into tears at any moment. ANY moment.
So. Yeah. Moments of brightness in an otherwise gray and miserable landscape. That is where I’m at right now!