Real Talk: Job Transitions and Unwanted Friendships

A couple weeks ago I started my first professional job in an office setting and I’ve been making so many mistakes. My coworkers are nice, but I feel like they probably think I’m dumb and are judging me. I’ve been getting a lot of anxiety about this, which is leading to even more mistakes. I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this work and it’s really weighing on me. 

As is with any job, working in a new atmosphere is a constant learning experience, and it can be discouraging to feel judgment from others. But don’t forget – you’re still learning! You’re in a very unique situation with new routines, policies, and culture, so your feelings of uncertainty about sticking with it are completely valid. Adjusting to a new workplace and job, on top of all other tasks you’re doing, can be exhausting and overwhelming. 

I recommend keeping with it. Things will click with you over time, especially with repeated practice and exposure to the details, even the ones you may be struggling with. To help with the feeling of being weighed down, try to find a routine/process for separating work from your personal life. Maybe it could be turning off your devices for an hour when you get home, or practicing some self-care. If you treat yourself extra kindly when you’re not at work, you’ll be more mentally and emotionally prepared and motivated when you’re at the office. This is something that will benefit you in the long run too – not just when you’re getting used to things. 

We tend to have a heightened sense of awareness when we’re in new settings, and while this is great for absorbing lots of new information, it can also mean that we’re feeling like everyone is also paying a larger amount of attention to us as well. I’m sure your coworkers aren’t judging you – they most likely want to be resources to help you feel acclimated to the office. They’ve experienced what you currently are at some point – change is a lot to work through at once, and it can be nerve-wracking. You may feel less like you’re being judged if you reach out to your coworkers for help when you’re struggling or confused about something. If the responses are positive and encouraging, this sense of judgment will fade over time. Our brains like to fixate on potentially negative experiences for us, even if they haven’t happened yet. By having more positive interactions with your coworkers, you’ll begin to grow trust with them, and yourself as an employee. 

I hope that these pieces of advice provide you with some peace of mind and ideas for next steps in your office job! Keep in mind – you got the job in the first place; your employer saw great qualities in you when they chose to hire you! Be perseverant, and I’m sure that more positive experiences (and less mistakes) will soon follow. 

I know someone who considers me his only friend. He is a really nice person, but to be honest, I don’t enjoy his company. He always wants to text and hang out, and doesn’t seem to get the message by my rather short responses and excuses. I want to cut ties with him but I know he is lonely and I don’t want to hurt his feelings. Should I just suck it up and continue to engage with him, or should I end this relationship like I want to?

I can completely understand why this is a difficult choice to make, especially since someone else is involved. I admire your consideration of his feelings as you process how to move forward with this situation! 

Hopefully I can provide some conceptual advice that can assist in this decision. It sounds like you’re burdening yourself for the sake of someone else, and that can actually cause more damage in any type of relationship than good, for both of you. For you, you’re in an oddly awkward situation of providing excuses and short responses over and over, and for him, he’s feeling desperate for invested companionship. 

I think it would be best to cut ties with this person. It sounds exhausting and confusing for both of you, and, as I said, hanging on will do more harm than good. If/when you do so, make sure to be direct, and that he understands your feelings to prevent another situation like this with him down the road. 

Ending relationships like this are difficult, and honestly, a little painful to deal with. In the long run, I believe that it will benefit both of you – you’ll feel a major weight off your shoulders, and he may be encouraged to put himself out there more, or even work on himself to lessen the loneliness. But it’s okay to stick up for yourself and your feelings about this! I hope that whatever you choose to do will bring you relief – these situations can be draining for sure.