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All Alone on Wednesdays

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OTHER PEOPLE DON’T FEEL THIS WAY

Does everyone around you seem happy in your workplace? Do you think you are the only one who feels this way?

First, I want to say, even if it is ONLY you, who cares? You are the only person you are concerned with anyway.

Secondly, it is probably not ONLY you.

We–and I’ll say women particularly–are taught from a young age to always look at what we might be doing to exacerbate a situation. The idea that our attitudes are the problem, that we should change the way we see abuse and bullying, rather than call out the abuse itself.

Sure, in non-abusive situations, an attitude change may help make a situation better for you. But in some cases, a situation is truly toxic. If workplace conditions are toxic for you, why does it matter if you are the only one who feels that way?

Toxic is toxic.

Stop blaming yourself.

Trust your instincts.

It’s not you.

Aside from one person I am close friends with, I rarely heard anyone say anything negative about my administrators in my previous school. I thought it must just be me–that I wasn’t being ______ enough. That there was something wrong with my ability to get along with others. That if only I could do _____ better, the situation would be better.

It didn’t matter that this had never happened before in my previous five schools. It didn’t matter that I get along with most everyone else. It didn’t matter that this just wasn’t ME. I still thought I was the only one who felt this way, and that it was my fault I felt that way.

But in my last week at that school, I learned that a whole lot of teachers were leaving. When they came to sign off their library account with me (required on their end-of-employment checkout sheet), I was shocked how many I didn’t know were leaving. And some of them started talking. Their stories were just like mine! Plenty of people were fed up with the administrators there, but no one–including me–really talked about it with colleagues they didn’t know really well.

I mean, why would we? “That kind of negative talk has no place in school”–isn’t that what we always hear? Be positive! Smile! If you don’t have anything nice to say…

And there’s always that job reference hanging over our heads. We certainly don’t want to jeopardize that, right?

 

FIND YOUR WORK BESTIE

I really wish I had talked to these people earlier than my last week at the school. How might things have been different? For all of us?

One thing that really helps in any situation is not feeling like you are alone. I have worked in six schools in two countries, and I have at least one Work Bestie from each of those schools. But when I was in my own untenable situation, my Work Bestie became even more important. She was a lifeline.

Things are so much more fun if you have a friend at work! Someone you can be silly with, giggle with, share lunch with, commiserate with. If you already have a Work Bestie, you already know how awesome they can be. If you don’t have one, think about the people you work with and enjoy being around. Who is fun to talk to, even if it’s just small talk? We simply “click” with certain people more than others. Find these people and talk to them!

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