Help me not fail.
December 22, 2012 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I think I am failing at my career. It feels like being in a slow-motion car wreck. What do I do at this point?

So, this was me. As in, that was my post that I wrote 8 months ago.

The TL;DR of that post: I'm 25, and in my second job out of college. I had changed companies because my performance at my old one started to flounder the second I started getting more responsibilities. My organizational skills sucked, my attention to detail sucked, my supervisor was not pleased. I changed companies thinking I'd have a fresh start and, surprise, my problems persisted - right down to the unhappy supervisor.

So since then, I feel like I've taken a lot of steps - I started going to therapy. I was diagnosed with ADHD. I'm on ADHD medication to help me focus. I meet my therapist once a week or once every two weeks to discuss coping strategies and organizational/cognitive tricks.

And I come in to work the next day after every session, all freshly medicated and determined - "Alright Anonymous! Today is the day! Small steps, small steps. Expose yourself to unpleasant work tasks, reward yourself for small successes like we discussed! Etc!" And yet by noon, my failing begins. A detail, or two or three, will get missed - and called out by one of my supervisors. A formula on a spreadsheet is wrong so a budget was screwed up. A vendors email address had a typo so they didn't receive the important document I was supposed to forward. And so on.

I am now being micromanaged, and probably rightfully so - why trust my work? I wouldn't. And yet no matter how much I think I've taken my time, or double checked something, a new mistake finds a way to slip into each week. My breaking point was this week, when one of my biggest fears was confirmed: That some of my coworkers think I'm an idiot. I found out because I was accidentally copied on an email in which they appeared to be commiserating over my performance, along the lines of "Omg such a mess, he doesn't know what he's doing." This was after I had sent a particular document out. I did not mention to them that I saw this exchange.

My only excuse - and it is a weak one, I think - is that my job does not involve any sort of critical thinking or collaboration at all. It is mostly data-entry in some form or another, sitting at my desk all day, formatting spreadsheets, and copying information from old spreadsheets and tweaking them into new ones and keeping track of dozens and dozens of documents and budgets. It is not especially challenging work, other than the challenge of repeatedly testing my attention to extremely minute details over and over and over again. It doesn't help that my supervisor is VERY type-A and, well...lets just say the opposite of someone with ADD. But still - this should be easy. And I have a feeling this is something I will be tested with most jobs.

I'm just so disappointed in myself and with how I've turned out. I used to have such a healthy amount of confidence - not cockiness or entitlement, but just that general feeling that "it's going to be okay, you're smart and intuitive and you're going to figure it out." That I could learn or take on anything if I put my mind to it. I was so excited that I've made it in this far in life. Now that feeling has been entirely diminished. I have never doubted myself more.

I don't know what to do now. I could quit my job, but then I wouldn't have a job. I could talk to my boss about how I'm unhappy, but then they might just use that as a lever to fire me. I could keep my current job while searching for a job that suits me better, but this will be difficult because my skills are all based on the career that I'm in now, so who knows how long it would take. I could also leave this company relatively quickly and perform the same gig at a new company, and hope to god that it will be a slightly better environment with less type-A coworkers - but then I just risk failing my face off again and letting everyone down some more. And honestly - I wouldn't know how to NOT go in to a new job at this point without expecting to fail. It has come to that. I am trying hard to get out of that mind set, but it is so hard not to buy it.

What happens now? What do I do? How do I even begin restoring my confidence?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (24 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
You need to create a series of checklists that you check every piece of your work against before it leaves your desk / email outbox.

This book should help:
posted by Jacqueline at 7:31 AM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Find another job doing work that is more suited to your skills and less detail oriented.

When I got my ADHD diagnosis, I eventually decided to change careers. One of the initial reasons for that change was that, at my then-current employer, there were a few people who had decided, based on my unmedicated self, that I was incompetent. No matter how much I changed, their minds had been made up. So, I thought, better to get a fresh start somewhere else. And while I was at it, I might as well change careers, with the goal of working in a position where I'm the big picture person, with support staff below me who are responsible for the kinds of things my ADHD isn't useful for.

Thus might be a great opportunity for you to make a similar change.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:33 AM on December 22, 2012 [10 favorites]

Your job sounds like the absolute wrong-est thing for someone just beginning treatment for ADD to be doing. Intense pressure to get immediate results from your treatment, each little blip having public consequences ... no wonder you feel crummy. Data entry, attention to detail, proofreading, discrete minor tasks that don't build toward a big-picture project ... there are people for whom that kind of work is perfect and people for whom that kind of work is just not a good fit.

But still - this should be easy. And I have a feeling this is something I will be tested with most jobs.

No, not at all. There are all kinds of jobs that require critical thinking and collaboration, you're just not in one. And even more jobs that require attention to detail as part, but not all, of the job. Ex.: my work requires attention to detail on proofreading but I rely on my accounting dept for accurate data. That allows your brain to change gears throughout the day ... which helps you stay on task because it's not the same thing for 40 hours!

So don't leave your job until you have another job. But start talking to your therapist about finding work that makes the most of your strengths rather than shining a light on your weaknesses. I'm sure there are a lot of adult ADD forums where people talk about what kind of work is a good fit.

In the meantime stop saying/thinking things like "this should be easy" because what's easy for some isn't easy for others, and you just need to find the thing that does feel easy and natural for you. And when you do, the pressure to get immediate results from your ADD treatment will decrease ... which will help you get results from your ADD treatment!
posted by headnsouth at 7:37 AM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

You need to figure out what your real strengths are. I am not good at spread sheet stuff, but I can do this kind of work as part of my "real" job. I think you should stay--even if you get fired, you can get unemployment, and then, try your hand at a bunch of different things. Are you good with shapes and colors? Are you good with people, animals, plants? The world is full of jobs and careers that aren't in the list of career-center choices. You might be great at restoring vintage furniture or selling real estate or organizing tours for old people. Think about what you enjoy, make an actual list of what you can do well, and talk to your social network to see where you can bloom.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:37 AM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah you are wildly in the wrong sort of career. If you are actually *sending emails to the wrong addresses* (wow!) and breaking calculations in spreadsheets without noticing, you are absolutely not in the right job.

Stop beating yourself up about this. This would be like me having a job that involved airplanes and violent animals, my two worst nightmares. No one would criticize me for failing at that job; I certainly wouldn't criticize myself for it. It's silly for you to do the same.

You need to figure out what you want to do, or at least like doing, and find a path to get there, ASAP. Stop berating yourself for being who you are!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:42 AM on December 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

In the short term, creating some detailed checklists and systems for staying organized is a good idea. In the longer term, though, as other posters have noted, you need to address whether or not you are in the right job. You are at an early enough point in your career to make such a change with relatively little pain, but it will get harder as you get older, and invest more of your time, energy, and resume space in a job that doesn't seem to suit you very well.

I recommend getting yourself to a career counsellor as soon as you can. Such a person will be able to help you assess your strengths, and figure out whether or not you could transition into something that lets you use them with your current experience and education. One thing I was struck by is how well-written both your posts are, so that might be something to build on. Maybe you could do some kind of technical writing, or business communications, related to your current field? Not everybody is able to communicate as clearly as you, so those skills are often very much in demand, especially when combined with technical expertise.

And don't get down on yourself. There are "horses for courses, and you just need to find the right course for you.
posted by rpfields at 8:24 AM on December 22, 2012

"Career"? You're 25.

A non-representative but possibly inspirational anecdote: A friend of mine went to school for acting, but he (surprise) was never able to find paid work there, so he found a day job doing nonprofit admin. His acting career dried up by 25, so he started taking photos. He lost his admin job, so he used his photography chops to teach himself design, and started freelancing on the web. After a couple years, his web design work was more frustrating than lucrative, so he sent out some applications: His admin, photography and design experience got him a position as lead designer for a small publisher. But that position disappeared, too, so he went freelance again, this time doing book and ebook design. He isn't making a ton of money, but I would say he's thriving: he supports himself, is frequently asked for interviews and talks, and one of his projects made national news. He's 31.

Moving forward, it looks like this guy has had half a dozen failed careers in the last decade. In hindsight, he has one successful one.

It doesn't sound like you love your job; I'm not sure you even like it, but it sounds like you feel obligated to stay in the field for some reason. I think you should try something new.
posted by tsmo at 8:30 AM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

You are lucky in some ways, you are young enough to figure this out and find a career much better suited to what you excell at.
It'll likely suck in the short to medium term, but combined with the steps already taken you can set yourself up to be much happier in life

good luck
posted by edgeways at 8:45 AM on December 22, 2012

Nthing that you are in a job that's completely the wrong fit for you, and this is what is sapping your confidence.

You stated: I have a feeling this is something I will be tested with most jobs. No, it isn't, but there are some industries/companies that do put up a wall of crappy grunt work that all junior employees have to climb over before they get to the more interesting, less detail-oriented work. Some industries are worse at this than others. But there are many, many jobs and careers that don't do this, ones where you can jump right in to work that suits you far better. Here is where a career counselor can help you by steering you to a niche where your talents can shine.

Another good thing for you to do would be to do some informational interviewing with people who work in the kind of jobs where you could see yourself working. Someone experienced in your field (or your prospective field) could answer the question, "My talents lie in areas X, Y and Z. I don't do as well with data entry. Given this, what would you suggest to me if I want a job like yours ten years down the line?"
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:06 AM on December 22, 2012

You sound like a persistent, dedicated and reflective person - your post is thoughtful and concerned.

How are your people skills?

There are many customer facing opportunities where its all about the experience and the interaction and less about the details.

I'd fail at such a task as well, and I do not have your diagnosis (as additional challenge to work on)

As others have said, we all have our strengths and weaknesses and something I read a very long time ago (I've been working since 1990) said something to the effect of Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Because focusing on improving weaknesses which are inherent will only bring the overall level up to mediocre but focusing on your strengths will enhance them and take you further. So I acknowledged that I am not good at details and paperwork and data entry and focused on my big picture side, as ocherdraco mentions.

This might be an article on that paraphrased quote above, I believe. (with a quick search) - its still current it seems and brought up often in management speak.

"You've worked hard this year John. Your client orientation is superb. You've met your sales goals and you're a solid team player. But you have an area that needs development, specifically, your detail orientation. The spreadsheets we get from you are a mess. Let's talk about how you can get better in that."

An A, two Bs and an F. And his manager handles it the same way his parent did. By focusing the conversation, and John's effort, on his least favorite and weakest area.

We have a report card problem in our companies and it's costing us a tremendous amount of time, money, potential, and happiness. It's costing us talent.

Traditional management systems encourage mediocrity in everything and excellence in nothing. Most performance review systems set an ideal picture of how we want everyone to act (standards, competencies, etc.) and then assesses how closely people match that ideal, nudging them to improve their weaknesses so they "meet or exceed expectations" in every area.

But how will John add the most value to his organization? He's amazing with people, not spreadsheets. He'll work hardest, derive the most pleasure, and contribute his maximum potential with the greatest result if he is able to focus as much time as possible in his area of strength.

Which means taking his focus off developing the things in which he's weak. They're just a distraction.

posted by infini at 9:13 AM on December 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

First of all, keep in mind that your coworkers who apparently think you are an idiot for making small, detail-oriented mistakes accidentally copied you on an email in which they talked shit about you. Room to talk? I think not. It happens to everyone.

As an ADD person who works with detail-oriented material on a regular basis as part of my job, here are a couple of tips that might help for catching mistakes.

First, as much as possible, schedule your tasks so that you are not having to turn things in or send things out the second you think you are finished. You can't proofread your own work when it is still fresh in your head. Your brain remembers what you meant when you entered that formula or wrote that sentence, and will gloss over any mistakes you might have made. You need to put the work aside for time so you can go back to it and look it over with fresh eyes. The longer you can wait to look it over, the better. Give it a few hours at the very least; a day or two would be better. You will be surprised by the number of errors that will pop out at you.

Second, when you have something where accuracy is especially important, ask a trusted coworker to proofread it for you. You can probably come to a casual reciprocal arrangement with someone where you help each other out. In my department we do this all the time, sometimes passing a critical document through several sets of eyes before we send it out to the public. This is not uncommon in companies. I used to get asked to proofread stuff for coworkers at my last job too. And it wasn't a matter of double-checking the work of someone incompetant. These were smart, successful coworkers who wanted to make extra-sure that the work they were turning in was as error-free as it could be. Make sure you let the person know you want their opinion on the content so they know to pay attention to the budget numbers/information on the report/whatever and not just give feedback on spelling errors and typos.

Third, request a read receipt when sending important emails. Follow up with a phone call if you don't get a receipt back within a reasonable time frame.

You need to get into a mindset where you understand that mistakes are going to happen regularly, and have a safety net in place that involves more than just you frantically double-checking your work in a few minutes between finishing a task and turning it in.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:16 AM on December 22, 2012 [15 favorites]

I used to believe this:

my skills are all based on the career that I'm in now

and I can tell you that based on the info that you've given, that doesn't sound true for you either. In fact, I've done work that sounds like yours in two different industries at this point. As it turns out, I excel where I am at now, and I don't exactly know why. I'm certain that the work conditions/not having a boss who is so legitimately bad I was advised to take legal action against, but being in a new industry was the exact "fresh start" I needed. For me, nothing -- no amount of checking, rewarding, scheduling, focusing, medication, nothing -- helped as much as just throwing myself out there and finding a new way to use those old skills. I really think you need to consider looking for a new job that isn't so similar to the last two you've had.
posted by sm1tten at 9:30 AM on December 22, 2012

You are not detail-oriented or good at data entry. This is fine, but you need to, in the fairly short term, find a job that doesn't require you to be those. (Then you need to find a different way to spin this in job interviews.) This isn't going to derail your career, this is going to open up a better career for you that you will be happier and more successful at.

I don't think the email cc was accidental, to be honest.
posted by jeather at 9:48 AM on December 22, 2012

It just sounds like you're in the wrong job. Sometimes I think I am too. I just think back to a story I read a long time ago about Margaret Atwood (famous Canadian Author) working as a teen in a country sort of store and her coworker asking her if she 'was retarded' [sic] because she couldn't get the hang of the cash register. She's obviously an amazing talent- just not at retail-based jobs. Maybe you need to enter a different type of work. Also, Martha Beck (life coach, Oprah-pal, enough flaky references for you yet?:)) says in life you are supposed to 'work like a dog' but pointer dogs point, herder dogs herd etc. You need to find a job that is more suited to you. Tough in these economic times but only being 25 helps!! (But don't quit before you have a new job).
posted by bquarters at 9:48 AM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Agreeing that you sound reflective and thoughtful, not like an idiot at all. I am sorry that you are having a rough time of it and that your co-workers are jerks on top of it.

One thing that I don't see mentioned in either post is why you chose this field and these particular jobs. I know the job market is tough for recent graduates, but it's not clear to me if these roles are the necessary stepping-stones to your ultimate career goal or ...? You also don't mention if you struggled with the same issues in your education. I get the feeling from the way you write that this job fulfills your expectations of what a professional job should look like, you are a professional person, ergo it should be easy for you. But look - there is far more to the professional world than dicking around in excel all day, and being good at that is not the end-all, be-all of one's professional worth. (Speaking of which - I suspect your company is Doing It Wrong and overly relying on manual manipulations of Excel, but that's not germane to your question. I mention it because I want you to know that it's not some fatal flaw of your own.) These are questions for you to think about while you decide on your next professional step.

So in addition to implementing the coping strategies and safety-nets suggested up-thread, I think you need to refocus on your strengths and explore what other professional opportunities are out there for you. I agree that you are a good writer, and I am sure that comes out in your speech, too. That doesn't mean that you have to settle for some writing job that you wouldn't otherwise want. You can seek out professional positions that use more of your strengths and way less of Excel formatting. Those jobs do exist! Have you thought of sales? I know there is an ugly stereotype of a salesperson, but in my experience, in business-to-business sales, they are not all gross and smarmy. They were really helpful, good communicators, looked at the big picture, and then when I needed to get into the minute details of the product they connected me with their lead technical person. :) Just an example. There are a number of other career paths out there.

Also - have you ever had an formal training in Excel? It seems like a lot of businesses just let the most recent hires learn a bit from the second-to-most recent hires, and ... it's a mess. It's ok for some people, but you may have learned a messy, inefficient, error-prone method of doing things. Also - make things bigger on the screen. I know it doesn't look as cool to have things in Grandma-scope but it does make a difference.

Also, repeated for truth:

First of all, keep in mind that your coworkers who apparently think you are an idiot for making small, detail-oriented mistakes accidentally copied you on an email in which they talked shit about you. Room to talk? I think not. It happens to everyone.
posted by stowaway at 9:57 AM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, I want to mention that it is not at all unusual for someone to get on a career path and discover that it is not at all what they expected or that there are more wrong things about it than right things. This can be particularly hard on an individual if there is a particular goal or end-point in mind, but it turns out that most of the steps on the way to the goal are not tolerable for one reason or another. It's really easy to slip into, "I'll just try harder," day-in, day-out, and not recognize that a certain path just isn't right for you. Sometimes it's not right because it highlights your weaknesses over your strengths. Sometimes it's not right because those steps don't align with your values. Sometimes it's not right because there's actually a much better path for you. It is ok to recognize that it's not right and that there's a better path for you!
posted by stowaway at 10:06 AM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've known some proofreaders, and they were meticulous and methodical. It sounds like your job requires plodding tasks. It may just be a poor fit. But it's your job. Do some research on effective proofreading and data entry. Take notes. See if there are more efficient ways to accomplish the tasks.

A formula on a spreadsheet is wrong so a budget was screwed up. A vendors email address had a typo so they didn't receive the important document I was supposed to forward. mostly data-entry in some form or another, sitting at my desk all day, formatting spreadsheets, and copying information from old spreadsheets and tweaking them into new ones and keeping track of dozens and dozens of documents and budgets. It is not especially challenging work.
Value your work more highly, take it more seriously, and challenge yourself to find ways to improve the output, as well as the process.

If you are in imminent danger of being fired, meet w/ your boss, and ask the boss to help you with an informal action plan for improvement. Good bosses got there by being smart, so the boss may be able to help. A wrong address should have generated an error message in email, formatting spreadsheets is a chance to get good at charting and understanding the data and the company in order to present it better, keeping track of documents gives you the opportunity to use project management or data library software, or to create a database. Also, ask co-workers for tips on improving processes, tricks & tips in Excel, etc. Everybody loves to be asked for advice, and they are likely to be able to help you improve.
posted by theora55 at 11:18 AM on December 22, 2012

I came in here to recommend the same book as Jaqueline, so I'll just give you a quick rundown on why checklists are helpful. The author of that book, Atul Gawande, is a former surgeon. His interest in checklists begins with a simple question: why are fatal surgical errors so much more common that plane crashes? After all, the level of skill and pressure required are roughly comparable, and surgeons require even more training than pilots. The answer, he determined, is that surgeons are sort of expected to just know what they're doing all the time, while pilots have a series of checklists they must complete. There's no "keep an eye on the altimeter" in flying. Instead, you look at the altimeter at prescribed intervals, and write down that you've done so. The result? People die every day from surgical complications, and plane crashes almost never happen.

Right now, you're working like a surgeon. You just sort of expect yourself to do everything right. And you keep losing patients. So it's time to be a pilot. Make checklists for yourself for your various repetitive tasks. Print them out. Actually put a check next to the items when you do them. Include things like "double-check formula" and then really do them.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:13 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

my skills are all based on the career that I'm in now

You don't like your current career and it isn't matched to your actual skills. You're going to change careers an average of three (or is it four?) times anyway so you might as well do it now.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:51 PM on December 22, 2012

You're in the wrong job. Possibly you're creative and not a functionary.

This used to be me - in a clerical role and the job was awful. I was micromanaged, felt incompetent and self esteem plunged. the only way out was to make a series of check lists. Write up an order with 40 items? Every five items add up the amounts and confirm- process a spreadsheet? MAKE SURE I CHECK FOR OTHER SHEETS - that was my killer, I would only look at sheet 1. I got to a stage when the job was just wrong for me.
posted by the noob at 4:58 PM on December 22, 2012

As I said in the previous post - not all jobs are for all people. You've tried and it appears that this kind of role is not for you. Ask yourself the following: What activities can you pursue all day long without feeling drained at the end of the day? I am not talking about physically tired, I am talking about mentally drained? What is it about these activities that energises you (mentally)? These things play to your strengths. Now think about what kind of jobs would utilise these strengths? And finally, how are you going to get a job like that? From what you've said it sounds as if you'll never be happy in the kind of role you're in. So you may as well focus on finding one that is a better fit...
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:12 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh man, I feel you. I'll just say that just based on your posts, you are a clear and vivid writer, and therefore obviously have other skills besides data entry. Also, congrats on taking the initiative to get therapy and get medication that works for you. Ultimately, I think it would be totally valid for you to leave this kind of work to people with attention surplus disorder and never look back.

But if you want to stay for other reasons -- maybe this is the scutwork phase of your career and things get a lot more interesting if you get promoted, for example -- I think you can make it work. One of the major epiphanies I had when doing detail oriented work in grad school is that when things didn't work, it often wasn't because I was stupid or not trying hard enough, but because I didn't have some crucial bit of info, or because I hadn't learned the right tricks. In other words, my problems were often procedural, not like, character flaws.

Here's a sort of long boring anecdote that might illustrate that. In bio labs it's not uncommon to have these big sets of incredibly dull reactions: they involve taking tiny amounts of a series of indistinguishable clear fluids and mixing them together in tiny plastic wells. For people like me (and I'm guessing like you) they are awful. Early in grad school I was always fucking them up, because I would forget how many I'd done and then I'd pipette something in the wrong place and it would all be garbage.

Finally I complained about it to a friend of mine, and she said "oh, my old company used to make us arrange the pipette tips in exactly the same orientation as the wells, so you could tell just by looking which well was next." In other words, if you had three rows of six wells, you just rearranged the pipette tips so you had exactly three rows of six tips in your tip box. So as you used and discarded each tip, you had an automatic record of precisely where in the reaction you were.


I mean this might sound totally stupid but I had been beating myself up about this for weeks and just by doing this one thing, my error rate plummeted.

Anyway, that might have been incomprehensible or tldr, sorry! But my point is this. Especially if you've just starting treatment for ADD recently, you probably haven't had time to learn all of the organizational tricks that people use for the type of tasks you have - stuff like Serene Empress Dork's brilliant suggestions above (read receipts! I would never have thought of that). And I bet that if you feel self-conscious about your performance at work, you may be loath to ask people around you for help, which could be holding you back even more.

So if there's anyone left you trust, you might try asking them how they're able to do your most dreaded specific tasks without making errors. Better yet, watch and take notes as they step you through these tasks, because people often leave out important details when they're explaining things verbally. In my experience, as long as they're not too busy, a lot of people will actually be flattered you came to them and will welcome the opportunity to talk your face off about their systems. And if there isn't anyone left at work you trust not to be a jerk when you ask for advice, then I think it might really be time to change companies and start fresh because that is going to poison your work environment no matter what. I'd also point out that the last time you "started fresh" you were unmedicated and untherapied, so I wouldn't read too much into that.

Anyway, I would totally support your changing careers entirely to something that involves less of this type of work, especially if that's all this career path offers. But if you have good reasons for staying (at least until, e.g., you can parlay your experience into something that's a better fit), I think you can improve your performance, particularly since you've been doing a good job getting the underlying issues sorted out. Best of luck and be kind to yourself.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:48 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not every career is for every person. I'm terrible at detail oriented work, and don't have an ADD diagnosis. I can't imagine how much harder it is for you. Some people just aren't cut out for it, and that's ok.

As I slowly started to fail in my programming career, I found this book useful:

because it helped me figure out what positive traits and skills I had, so I could figure out which jobs I did well or could do well.

I would use the tips suggested above to try and make things better in your current job, while simultaneously after-hours work to find something that is a better fit. You'll be so much happier when you are working in a field that you're more naturally suited towards. It's the whole, "You shouldn't ask the bird to swim and the fish to fly" sort of thing.
posted by RogueTech at 4:15 AM on December 23, 2012

Wrong job maybe. I have worked many customer service style jobs and I am terrible at it (I don't put people at ease, I sound like I'm being wry all the time, my people skills in terms of bright chirpy WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU TODAY are awful, I don't develop "customer confidence" quickly) and without fail, every time I am employed at one my self-esteem slowly starts to fall to pieces. It's hard to wake up every day to do something that makes you feel like you're incompetent. But there are lots of other jobs out there which will utilize your strengths much better.

For practical advice, I'd make checklists, go to work every day and do my job, leave my work at work when I go home at night, and take solace in the possibility of unemployment checks / an opportunity to look for a better job.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:04 PM on December 23, 2012

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