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The Sting of Second Place
This has happened to me a couple of times and it hurts. It just does. It makes you doubt yourself and distrust your colleagues, and it sours the entire experience. But their disappointment is not your problem to manage. And I imagine they are more dismayed about not working with their first choice than about having to work with you. That is little consolation, I know, but candidates turn down jobs all the time. Then organizations move on to the next equally qualified candidate. Your new colleagues are entitled to their disappointment, I suppose, but they should learn basic email functions and stop being so careless. What they did is tacky and deeply inconsiderate.
There isn’t much you can do about the colleague who lied about your being the first choice. That person was probably trying to overcompensate for the attitudes you saw in the missent email and to make you feel welcome. Any confrontation would be so awkward. The silver lining is that your work fulfills you. You got the job because you are excellent at what you do. Try to focus on that as best you can. Let their silly disappointment fuel your ambition.
And do what I did when I was included on one such email — save it forever, burnish their names in your memory, and plot the pettiest revenge you can imagine.
Too Much Oversharing
Your colleague sees you as a friend while you see her as a colleague with whom you are friendly. But, to be fair, I don’t think you have set a clear boundary around what you will and won’t discuss with her. When she approaches you with her problems, you listen, even when you try to redirect her to more appropriate resources. It’s very likely she has no idea she’s oversharing; she thinks she is confiding in a friend.
I totally understand not having the bandwidth to take on her problems, which seem overwhelming and fraught. It is up to you to establish boundaries and gently but firmly enforce them. The next time she approaches you and wants to overshare, you must tell her you care for her but you are not in a place where you can give her the emotional support she needs. It is kinder to be upfront with her about what you can and cannot provide her. I would also remind her of the mental health care options she can avail herself of in the workplace. I wish both of you the best in moving forward.
New Management Blues
Why are you doubting yourself and taking on his inadequacies as indicative of your own? It is important to hold yourself accountable and be open to constructive criticism, but nothing in your letter suggests you aren’t providing adequate direction. His performance is not meeting your expectations. That is what you must contend with right now. Instead of worrying about your work, develop a strategy for addressing his performance issues, with a plan for how he can improve, as well as consequences should he not be able to meet the new expectations. And then, you have to follow through.
Dreaming of a Dream Job
It is not a fantasy to love one’s job. There are, indeed, people out there who love their work, are passionate about what they do and are deeply fulfilled. That level of professional satisfaction can be elusive, but it does exist. A lot of the time it requires a combination of hard work, risk taking and luck. I love what I do. Even though I’ve been dealing with burnout lately, I am generally enthusiastic about all of the cool things I’m working on. When I finally have quiet moments to write, I am genuinely excited to see what I’ll be able to throw on the page. And it took more than 20 years to get here.
Yes, you should start looking for something else. Life is too short to be miserable at work. Even if you don’t find a dream job, perhaps you can find a better job for you. So often, people say they know they are lucky to have a job, but having to be grateful for something that makes you miserable is a terrible way to live. Don’t quit your job until you have something else lined up, but, my goodness, embrace passion. Love yourself enough to ask, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” and answer that question with radical honesty. You just might be surprised by what happens next.
Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.