Getting over a bad work experience
March 25, 2015 7:25 PM   Subscribe

I graduated from college and looked for over a year for work. I found a job in another state and, even though I had some reservations about moving, I took it because the further from graduation the more concerned I was about getting a job.

The job I took was awful. I probably should have suspected something because the job had been posted for almost a year, and as soon as I signed on, one of the people in the department left, couldn't wait to get out of there. There was constant negativity, constant criticism, constant threats of losing the job. Nothing I did was right, and there was no support or instruction for what they said I was doing wrong. Typically if I did something they didn't like, or if I had a question, I would be pushed to the side or asked to leave the room and they would fix the problem but never actually instruct me, so I would have to try (often unsuccessfully) to figure out what was wrong or try to figure out how to fix the problem on my own.

I started looking for another job right away and found something after about 4 months with an organization that I really wanted to work for back in the state I moved from, just a different city. They took me because now I had practical experience. I let them know there were aspects of the job that I had limited experience, and that there were things I had not done since school and they were fine with that.

I never did give notice at the other place because they fired me the day I got my offer letter from the new place. I have never been fired before (though I am "eligible for rehire", though what good that does anyone who gets terminated I don't know).

Now that I have started (2nd week), I am almost overwhelmed with anxiety and lack of confidence. I keep thinking about having lost the last job and I am so scared that the same thing will happen here. I am up to my ears in debt because of two cross country moves, and I am still a new grad and I still need help (and sometimes make mistakes). I am anxious, worried, scared, depressed...

So how do you move past a bad work experience? How do you get over being fired? How do I keep an effing lid on this anxiety until I feel more secure in the job?

Thanks for any help.
posted by spacecowgirl to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Okay. Breathe. I've had a lot of jobs, and I can tell you that your old job was extraordinarily bad. Getting fired says nothing about you other than you got caught in a shitty situation due to bad luck and a bad economy. You are gonna be just fine.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:40 PM on March 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


My best coping strategy when I feel overwhelmed is meditation. I just look up guided meditations on youtube and sit quietly for ten minutes, trying to feel the physical sensation of breathing and of touching whatever surfaces touch my skin. This 'de-escalates' things for me at the end of the day. It was the job that was bad, not you.
posted by monkeymonkey at 7:49 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I keep thinking about having lost the last job and I am so scared that the same thing will happen here.

You didn't lose the last job. They lost you. They are the ones who did things wrong. They are the ones who stuffed up with their lack of instruction and training. They lost you, a good employee, and all their other employees by the sound of things. They are the ones who borked the job.

One large part of your anxiety is that you don't know what you could have done to keep the last job, and you are worried that you won't know what to do to keep this one. But once you realise that it wasn't you who stuffed up but your employers, you can re-channel your thoughts with some quick CBT and reclaim your deserved confidence. Good luck!
posted by Thella at 7:51 PM on March 25, 2015 [19 favorites]


I left a very bad work environment last year. It might help if you think of getting "fired" as just another thing they did that was unprofessional and bad, rather than any reflection of you, just like the other bad practices they employed.

Some things just need time. If you are not ordinarily anxious and insecure, remind yourself that you've just come out of a terrible experience and need time to recover. Take care of yourself, do stuff that makes you feel good, keep in touch with people who care about you.

If it helps, maybe have a talk with your boss about getting feedback in these first few weeks. How that talk goes and what feedback you get might be the reassurance you need to relieve your anxiety and see that this place is (hopefully!) different.

And finally, I don't go much for woo but a friend of mine, a "certified" clairvoyant and angel something, gave me a "cord cutting" meditation to do and I did it, even though i felt silly. I think just the deliberate act of mentally letting go of old wrongs and imagining myself moving on did help me chill and feel better. There are lots of these meditations on YouTube.

Take care of you. Hope the new job is great.
posted by stellathon at 8:02 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I never did give notice at the other place because they fired me the day I got my offer letter from the new place.

Congrats, you did it exactly right! You realized the job sucked and proactively got a new one. You only got fired when you were about to quit anyway. This is literally the best outcome possible, because you probably got severance pay you wouldn't have if you had quit.

Over a long career, everyone gets fired or laid off or whatever you want to call it many times (with the possible exception of people entrenched in some government bureaucracy). It happens, and it's no reflection on you, and, like I said, you handled it exactly right and got a great outcome!
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:55 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


After a bad work experience, it's hard to feel confident and tackle a new job with enthusiasm. You just need to learn as much as you can from the previous experience as you can -- whether it's prioritizing your work and budgeting your time, whether it's seeking timely feedback from your boss and showing you're interested in improving, or even stuff related to office politics and looking like a team player. There has to be something you can apply to your new job that you learned. As for the toxic stuff and the stuff that wasn't your fault but you got blamed for, just remember that EVERYONE will experience a bad fit, or a toxic office, or be laid off/fired at some point in their lives. It doesn't mean you can't do a great job. Just let yourself pause, think things through, and regroup when you need to or you're feeling overwhelmed, and let yourself be decisive and take action when it's time to let your skills and instincts kick in.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:43 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


How did they know you got another job?

Seriously, they only fired you out of spite. Good riddance, you dodged a bullet! And honestly, while the debt sucks, I'm going to let you know that sometimes the stuff you need to do to get experience in an industry sucks. You're totally normal!

Get a no interest credit card and transfer all of your debt there. Pay it down. When the no interest time limit is up, transfer the debt to another card with no interest. Pay that down. Keep your credit stellar so you can keep qualifying for zero interest cards.

I'm going to suggest that you get professional massages (shiatsu or seitai, especially) like two or three times a week for the next two weeks. Also, try walking, yoga, hypnosis app, binaural beats - but mostly, get the massages.

You are holding on to a lot of trauma. Therapeutic massage is one of the best ways to release that quickly.

Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 9:47 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's so great that you proactively found this new job right in time! In the very short term, breathe and listen to the wise people who are telling you that you've done nothing wrong. By trying to learn the horrible old job and finding a new one you've shown that you can get things done. By asking for feedback at the new job you will learn and get better at it, which should help your anxiety.

In the near future - If you don't have insurance yet, consider something like The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook to help you get a handle on your anxiety.

As soon as you have insurance (do you have insurance now?) find a primary care doctor and set up an appointment for your anxiety. Sure, your anxiety is situational because your old job was Horrible, but you still shouldn't have to struggle through the anxiety you feel now. Your likely options are talk therapy and meds, so you can contemplate whether you're willing to do both or either of those things beforehand.

Lastly, do all of the usual things that are good for mental health: meditate, go for walks, exercise, and try to eat as sensibly as possible. Be kind to yourself, you've been through an incredibly tough time. Once you've got a handle on your anxiety and job you can take steps to do things like pay down your debt. For now you just need to stabilize and recover from a Tough time.
posted by ldthomps at 10:54 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


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