New job nerves; how to better adjust?
March 16, 2015 3:55 PM   Subscribe

I recently began a new job. It’s been a tough adjustment for me, and I’m unsure of what to do. Many layering details and snowflake details inside.

After being unemployed for a year and almost an half, I finally landed a new job. You can see my previous post about that here. I decided not to negotiate my salary/earnings, for now, so I could start easy and see from there, based on the advice given to me here.

Unfortunately, this has been a very rough month for me. My start date was at the very beginning of this month, and I have been dealing with a number of issues, in addition to transitioning from having 100% free time to being at a desk, 8 hours a day. Here’s what I have been dealing with: issues with SSI (still residual overpayments and other misinformation I had to get straightened out), my parcopresis, having to wrap up loose ends with my VR and food stamps, and having to decide whether or not to stay at my current place by the end of this month. Additionally, I’ve had a hard sleeping schedule to adjust to (I’ve always naturally been a night owl). Our Internet/TV cable was also cut off this weekend, due to winds, which added another burden to me.

I have had always had trouble with transitions and a hard time adjusting to change. That’s on me. However, this transition has been completely difficult to deal with, given all the layers of other issues I’m having. I had to call out sick twice already, and I’m very concerned at how my boss is viewing me. The job itself is enjoyable for the most part, but does come across as repetitive and boring at times, and is low pay, but I don’t want that to stop me, as I really want to build myself up and get out there. I have paracropesis, which means it’s very difficult for me to go number two while people are around, and before starting my job, I’ve had success going at home, as my roommate (the only one I share our toilet with) is often out, but given my new schedule, it’s harder than ever, and it’s really stressing me out. You can view more information at this link of how parcropesis works here. This is a main cause of what is really stressing me out, and places to go #2 in my work area are non-existent. I’ve shared details on how my paracropesis works here and here. It’s worked out since I was unemployed because I’ve always done it at home when my roommate wasn’t around, but that is unworkable now for the most part. Additionally, I don’t really feel comfortable doing hotels/other public venues anymore, due to past incidents with security, so that’s where my paracropesis comes in a bit harder than in the past.

My sleeping schedule has been out of whack, causing me to have to call out sick, because I knew I couldn’t function well with 1-2 hours of sleep. I’m going to try ZZYquil, which a friend recommended to me, to see if that helps. I don’t want to become addicted to it, though, but that's an option I'm exploring.

As for the other layering issues, it really has been one thing after another. I’m currently getting the help from a free legal aid lawyer in DC, but I’m not sure how long this will last, as they help those who are ‘low-income/special needs.’ I’m also feeling stressed out due to my AT&T cellular plan only being 2GB, and having to deal with not having Internet. Being Deaf means I have to rely on videos/text/data to communicate, so I’ve been cut off pretty much since our Internet has been down, and Comcast hasn't been easy to deal with (aren't they always?).

I’m finally getting therapy (yay right?) and my therapist suggested I talk to my boss, see about either going to part time or teleworking part of the week (our job is done completely remotely), but the issue here is, I don’t want to sound like a special, entitled snowflake. My co-worker (who has been training me) lives 45 minutes away, commutes by both train and metro, and has been wanting to telework (but I assume hadn’t asked our boss). As I’ve recently began, I feel it’s too early to ask, but my therapist suggested I ask anyway, especially given my unique challenges. I'm not sure of a good script to ask my boss with, without coming across as an entitled snowflake. The work environment is also not one I'm exactly fond of (narrow/small rooms, not very Deaf-friendly, etc.), but that's just a tiny factor. On the other hand, this is a great opportunity for me to get myself out there, get my name out there, etc., and to build my resume.

So. To put this in a nutshell, how would you suggest I better cope? How would you suggest I redeem myself to my boss? I was considering just quitting, but I really should be grateful I’ve got a job, in this economy, especially, and it’s been a long time since I was able to land any job. I just feel like all the layering issues are too much for me to cope with. When I worked for my previous jobs, their schedules were more flexible (I was able to telework for one, and another had varying times/days). Also, I announced on Facebook/Instagram (to family and friends) that I got this job, and got over 150 likes, so it’s a bit stressful if I do an “about-face” and quit.

tl;dr - I bit off more than what I could chew, became overwhelmed, and am having a difficult time transitioning to a new, full-time job. I called out two times already in two weeks, feeling a sense of shame, and am trying to work through this to redeem myself to my boss and to decide the best next steps to take, despite layering issues (SSI/VR/food stamp/short-term issues).
posted by dubious_dude to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have never had your particular struggles. So this may be of limited value to you but...if you want to keep this job you need to show up and do it. It is fine to share with your boss that you have had health struggles you are addressing but at the end of the day telework is mostly based on trust, and you need to earn it.

If you were my employee I would be really concerned about absenteeism.

I am not familiar with parcropesis but there are lots of people who don't do #2 at work...I got into a discussion about it one day, I guess there are people who train themselves to time it at home. I hope that helps a bit.

If it turns out this transition just went too badly then remember you are not a bad person, and it will help inform your decisions.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:36 PM on March 16, 2015 [8 favorites]

It sounds like this is really tough for you right now. I'm sorry!

Where I'd start with that you're only two weeks in. Give yourself some space to adjust to this workplace. You mentioned you're being trained by someone; now is not the greatest time to be asking about teleworking simply because you still need to be trained. This is also a good time to build relationships with your coworkers and boss.

Additionally, given that your trainer is interested in getting to telework but doesn't presently get to telework, I would presume that this is a workplace in which teleworking is not enthusiastically supported. That doesn't mean you won't get to telework, but I'd give it a few months (like perhaps four) before you ask about teleworking.

For now, I'd see if you can clear the decks of anything that doesn't need your immediate engagement in it. Can you leave the legal and other issues for the weekends? Or could you let them wait a month and deal with them in a few weeks? Sounds like what you need to do right now is focus on settling into your new job.

Good luck!
posted by arnicae at 4:47 PM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

You need to be an adult and make a routine and stick to it.Go to bed at x time every night. Eat on a regular schedule so you can poop on a regular schedule. Adjust diet if this helps. Wake up at the same time and be at work on time. Lots of jobs are 8 hours of sitting with maybe 25% of the work being engaging or interesting. That's work and millions of adults,deaf or not,do it every day. Set aside specific times to deal with your non work problems and do these things outside of work. You need this job, but what your job needs is an employee.
posted by asockpuppet at 5:10 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Coping strategy: prioritize your attendance at work above everything else and forgive yourself when other things slip/lapse.

You haven't gone too far down the path of bad work attendance, but you can and should nip the "calling out" habit in the bud. Set a rule for yourself that, for the next three months, you only skip work if you are sick enough to go to the doctor. You can still go to work after 1-2 hours of sleep; it really, really sucks but you will get through it. From your boss's perspective, they will look more highly on a tired employee than an absent one.

I haven't read your past history regarding going #2. Whatever solution you can come up with to prioritize work attendance will serve you best.
posted by samthemander at 7:11 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

It is far, far easier to get another/better job when you have a job than when you are coming out of unemployment. For that reason alone, I encourage you to tough it out, and agree that you should prioritize work attendance. A lot of people go to work overtired (new parents, caregivers, night owls, moonlighters) but the important thing is that they're there and they're trying. Don't be so perfectionist as to think you shouldn't be there unless you're 100%. You should be there, even when you haven't rested well, because doing the job, and keeping the job, is your priority. And you don't need to be perfect to do this job and keep this job - you just need to do the work your boss needs you to do.
posted by Miko at 7:56 PM on March 16, 2015

I'm sorry you are going through this right now. I agree with a lot of the advice above, except I want to say I would not be concerned (yet) as a boss about the too absences unless there were other red flags. You probably have the opportunity to show this is a fluke, or position it as such. I tend to extreme insomnia myself (nothing like on your scale) and have had to drag myself to the office feeling awful. It isn't fun. But it can be managed, and you probably need to do that until you can reset your sleep schedule.

I don't think asking for telework in a training period is a good idea at all, and as an employer it would worry me a whole lot more than the absences themselves. It seems to me that if you can get your sleep schedule sorted out, you may have better ability to control your bathroom schedule, so if I were you I would focus on sleep and on making sure you get to the office. In terms of helping you sleep, then missing Internet can be a big help. I have no experience with your other points, but as someone with fairly extreme sleep issues, I can offer the following advice:

No Internet for an hour before my planned bedtime. I read a book or clean, but I don't look at the screen.
Exercise and routines are my friend. I exercise regularly, usually in the morning, and it seems to help me keep a normal schedule.
Hot baths, hot tea, hot water-- no idea why, but it works for me to go to sleep.

Hope you get it resolved.
posted by frumiousb at 9:09 PM on March 16, 2015

Trouble sleeping: Your circadian rhythm is out of whack and you need to adjust it. It's not easy, but it will happen eventually if you actually commit to it. Set a bed time. Let's say you want to be awake at 7pm. To get eight hours of sleep, you should be in bed by 11 pm. Pop one Tylenol PM or one tablespoon of Zzquil at 9 or 9:30. Be in bed by 10:30. If you take a full dose, you'll be groggy in the morning, but a half dose will help you sleep, at least until you can start falling asleep at that hour on your own.

Pooping in public. There is a single stall restroom somewhere within a 10-minute walk or drive near your office and you should find it. There's probably a bunch. I also don't like shared restrooms at the office -- public ones are fine, but I don't like using them with my coworkers around. So I've found random office buildings (security guy might have a key), some restaurants, etc. have private, single-stall restrooms with fans. Buy a cookie or a cup of coffee so you can use the restroom. I'm sure at your office you are allowed to run out and get coffee, and no one will know you dropped the kids off at the pool too, so to speak. It's also worth noting that once you adjust your body's clock, you may not end up needing to poop during the work day anymore.

Internet. I'm not sure what the big deal is here with not having internet for a couple days. I think you may be overreacting a little. You haven't had internet for three whole days, it sounds like. Can't you just read a book to pass the time? Or take your laptop to a coffee shop and use the wifi? It really hasn't been that long without internet, and I think you are coming up with excuses to panic a bit here. I'm not deaf and the internet is how I connect to the outside world too. This is not a big deal.

Teleworking. I don't agree with this advice from your therapist. You just started and you already called in sick twice. If a guy commutes 45 minutes each way isn't working remotely, you'd have to think maybe it's not the easiest ask in the world. I personally would show that you can do the job and build up some trust first. That doesn't mean you can't try to ask soon because of the unique challenges you may face, but I would try to earn a little bit unless remote working is common in your office.

I have to be honest here and I don't mean to minimize what you're feeling, but I think you are looking for sympathy when a reality check might help more. Being deaf certain adds some legitimate stress to your life, but the other stuff is slightly ridiculous. When I was unemployed for a year, I would stay up all night too, but when I needed to start waking up early and keeping a normal schedule, I did it. It sucked and I didn't want to do it. It was hard and I spent that first week or so feeling sleep deprived, but I did it. And yeah, I don't like pooping in my office either, and it's annoying that I need to go buy a cup of coffee I don't want so I can use a private restroom, but I do it. And yeah, when my internet goes out, I feel like I am missing out on tons of stuff, but then when I get my internet back, I realize I missed nothing. It's certainly not the end of the world.

I think you got used to kind of just doing whatever you want and you are looking for reasons to decide this is too hard so that you can go back to doing whatever you want. I mean this in the nicest way possible because I think you need a little tough love: Suck it up. You are being silly. You are more than capable of managing a normal sleep schedule and working in an office, even though it's kind of boring. Have a little faith in yourself and recognize that this are challenges you are more than capable of dealing with.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:59 PM on March 16, 2015 [9 favorites]

Oh and on the sleeping issue - when I was having insomnia issues a few years ago I would regularly go to work with 1-3 hours of sleep under my belt. I was startled by how functional I was with just 1-3 hours of sleep. We are led to believe that we need X numbers of sleep to be functional, but in the short term you can be really functional with a lot less sleep. Just take a shower and then force yourself to go into the office. It will make going to bed that next night a lot easier.
posted by arnicae at 4:58 AM on March 17, 2015

I bit off more than what I could chew, became overwhelmed, and am having a difficult time transitioning to a new, full-time job.

First things first: remind yourself CONSTANTLY that the above is not a question, it's a complaint. It's a valid complaint! Transitioning to full-time from unemployment is jarring and (mostly) unpleasant. But it isn't a problem to be solved, it is just a situation to be dealt with.

how would you suggest I better cope? How would you suggest I redeem myself to my boss?

For coping:
-Remember that every single one of your coworkers, and every other full-time worker, is dealing with problems similar to yours. We all have "layering issues" that we need to deal with in addition to showing up at work every day (or, well, most days). It can be done, and there's no reason you can't do it.
-Excellent self-care, starting with your sleep schedule.
-Do what you can to make your office more physically pleasant--nice lighting, a plant?

For redeeming yourself:
--Show up. No matter how little sleep you got. If you're not going to go to the doctor, you're going to work. [on preview I see AppleTurnover said much of this already]
--Address some of your issues proactively. I don't mean ask for telework, not yet. I mean approach him/her with the attitude of, "I know I have had some difficulties adjusting and want to improve; what do you need to see from me?"
--If any of the things your boss needs from you are being negatively impacted by the office not being Deaf-friendly, bring up solutions for that.

Generally, bosses are people too, and will be understanding --to a point-- about new people having trouble at first. So don't permit yourself to use shame as an excuse to quit; your boss is likely not interested in shaming you, just in having an employee who is doing a job.

You can do it. We all do. Signing off to schedule a dentist appointment and rush to the post office on the rest of my lunch break...
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:50 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have thought about you several times since this post. I hope things are going well. Please do post an update; we'll support you with whatever happens.
posted by samthemander at 12:10 AM on March 25, 2015

Response by poster: I know this is way, way, way later into the future, but just wanted to report that I kept the job until the end of April. Not because I was fed up, but because I got another job offer, so I took 2 weeks off before starting the new job (in May), to give myself additional rest and time to transition. I learned from my mistake with the original job in terms of resting/preparation.

Funny thing is, I don't think anyone at the original job really missed me. We just weren't a good fit, really. Looking back, I don't really care, because the pay was abysmal at the original job. There also didn't seem to be any opportunity for moving up the ladder, and some other employees were starting to seem frustrated with leadership, so it probably happened for a reason.

Let's see how things go with my "new" job!

Hope this answers your question, @samthemander. I just happened to look back and see your question now, so thought to add an update.
posted by dubious_dude at 1:25 PM on November 16, 2015

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