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Thread: Am I selfish & irresponsible?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2020
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    Am I selfish & irresponsible?

    Hello all,

    I am new here and hopefully I am posting this on the right forum. I also apologize for the long post ahead, but I hope someone can help me. What trigged my question above, actually happened just two days ago but requires the following context:

    About 5 years ago, after I finished my university bachelor degree, I was desperately looking for a job. I live in a country where it's difficult to find a job where they pay a fair salary (in comparison to the work that is being done) or where you can get a decent work-life balance. I kept looking for a job for about 3 months and the more time I spent at home, the more demotivated I felt. So I thought, 'hey, why not doing voluntary work somewhere nearby while I'm searching? That way I get experience and keep my head entertained' - following this thought, I went to a community youth center nearby asking if they need a hand. I explained them my situation and they said they would let me work there (for free) until I got a job. So I worked there for about 6 months for free, never missing a day or arriving later. Eventually I found a good paying job and had to leave the community center. I left on very good terms and felt very grateful for the opportunity that I was given there, as I had learnt a lot and the people there trusted me completely. They said if there was ever a chance of employing me there, they would give me a call.

    Fast forward 2 years later, I got a call from the boss of the community youth center. She said she was starting a new project and was gathering new people for the team and proposed me a not-so-good paying job offer, but with the promise to have me promoted after 2 years. Because I had been so happy when I worked there, as well as because it was closer to home, I left my previous job and accepted her offer.

    Now, at this point it is important to refer that the boss of the center was always very friendly - I would even say we became friends. She was demanding and strict, but as a boss that is what you would expect. She also would say that, if I ever needed a day off for a personal reason, or if I wanted to continue my studies, I could just ask her and it wouldn't be an issue – she seemed very accessible and understanding, and initially even the team meetings were very easy-going. Additionally, after I joined the team, another person, who was actually a personal friend of hers, was admitted to the team as well.

    But after a short period of time, everything started going a bit downhill. The workload grew heavier, I was given projects and tasks that I knew nothing of and that nobody taught me. The deadlines grew shorter and we started to work more and more hours. At the same time, we had this Facebook group together, where the boss would send messages regardless of the time and day, requesting information of projects that were going on, or asking for follow-ups. For most of the extra hours we did on specific activities and projects, we got to take off those extra hours on another day. The problem was the extra hours everyone did on a 'normal office day' - she said she never asked us to stay overtime, but she held us responsible if we were not able to hand a project on time (which we could only if we worked overtime).

    Together with this, she started giving moral lessons to everyone, and expanding her 'preaches' to the personal areas and aspects of the co-workers. When a project went not right, she would accuse the team of not being her friend, not being decent or not wanting to know about her image or theirs. The accusations got more and more personal to the point where she would make people cry in team meetings. When the personal friend of hers she employed started doing poorly on her tasks, she spoke bad of her to the rest of the team, accused her of not respecting her and being a ty collaborator in overall. In the end, she fired her ‘friend’ and told the team she had left on her own terms. After this situation, she kept being - what I now understand to be - manipulative. She started having individual meetings with each collaborator. In the meetings, she would praise her 'favorites' very highly and tell everyone that’s how they should behave. In short – she would act like the benevolent mother and the team represented the ignorant or lazy child whom she needed to pass her teachings to.

    During this time, in private meetings she would tell me I was one of the people she most trusted, one of her most valued workers and her friend. She gave me her e-mail and task-programme password, so that I could answer some e-mails on her behalf, on the basis that, that way, I wouldn't have to leave a process hanging because of the lack of her response. She gave me more responsibilities, with more and more tasks seemingly to the ones of a personal assistance. She also made me responsible for a small team (3 people total) of an ongoing project and topic nobody had had education or training on - all of this without a pay raise and with the same number of tasks as before.

    At this point, it is important to mention that I have always been a bit 'frail' mentally - that is, since I've been 14 years of age I have suffered of chronical depression. Needless to say, that all these additional responsibilities, the extra-hours, the strict demands, the competitive environment made me question myself and my capabilities. I started having strong mood and performance fluctuations. I felt that the small team I was responsible for did not respect me and whenever I held out to her asking for advice on how to lead the group, she told me I had to impose myself. I tried talking with my team, I tried several ways of having the 'hierarchy' work. But at this point I couldn't think straight, I made several errors and was not productive.

    In the meantime, I noticed that one of the collaborators I was responsible for was the living embodiment of the office-stereotype of 'ass-kisser'. Instead of talking with me, have me review her work, etc., she would directly run to our boss, often lying on who had done what and trying to take credit over things. She would put in extra hours to look good, and slowly started gaining her favor. Ironically, when I approach my boss on that, she said she was aware of her attitude and again told me I should impose myself more and adopt a firm attitude. But at the same time, she maintained the 'private' meetings with that collaborator, and would not tell her that the work she produced should go through me first. There were also situations where she would first give a direction to me by e-mail, and then the same direction to my teammate, personally. To this day, I'm not sure if this was intentional or because she (my boss) was confused, but either way, it led to competitiveness and several misunderstandings.

    I grew very tired of everything. I felt like I was stuck in life because I couldn't do my job properly; the pay was (still is) bad, and I couldn't save up a lot, I was in a permanent confused state, and felt I had the obligation to stay there because my boss had put so much faith in me. I became even more depressive to the point of having suicidal thoughts. There were weeks I would arrive at work crying and not being able to do anything. I didn't want any pity or attention - but I was such in state that I was not able to understand how my mood was affecting the team and the work. One day, I arrived in such a bad shape at work, my boss gave me 3 days off. I felt she (the boss) was sympathetic towards my condition and gave me space. During that time, she would say she cared about me as a friend and that she too suffered from a depression for years and understood. I was grateful for her support, and felt even more like I owed her my best efforts.

    But despite this, I was having difficulties getting back on track. I missed deadlines and I got slower in performing my tasks. I felt like the biggest piece of crap alive because even with all the support and help from my peers, I wasn't able to do well. Then, one day, after missing several deadlines, I went to talk with my boss. My intention was to inform her on a project that wasn't going so well (due to my fault) and to ask for directions - she completely exploded on me. She accused me of being fake, of not caring of her and the team's image, and of not caring for her as a friend. She said I didn't respect her as a boss and completely disregarded her. I was feeling so clouded, tired and misunderstood, all I could do was crying, without being able to properly talk. That was all I was able to do - cry like a baby - and to this day that moment still haunts me because of how lost and ridiculous I felt. That time was when I got back on meds for about 6, 7 months. During that time, I also had some issues and changes in my personal life that led me to being in an ongoing confused state, mood-swings and inability to think clearly. I was also on the brink of having to find a new apartment, a detail I shared with my boss when I was talking to her about a few personal issues; she offered one of her rooms in her apartment for me to stay, if I ever needed to, and I thanked her for the offer. But I remained constantly tired - both physically and mentally. My family and friends supported me, and my parents were of the opinion I focused too much on work and I that I let it affect me. Slowly I started to gather my thoughts and decided that I wanted to get better, even if just for my parents and friends who supported me. I decided not to be so intense about work - I started leaving on time, ignored the incoming messages after-hours and started to differentiate professional vs. personal life.

    But during this phase of pulling myself together, I also started thinking of my relationship with my boss – was she really my friend, as in, ‘personal-life-kind of-friend´? We actually never hung out after office hours, nor did we have lunch together; we also didn’t have that much fun together and had in overall very different interests. She did help me a lot workwise, but besides that, we had not that much contact. After this realization, I started to have a more professional approach towards her, and avoiding an all too personal involvement.

    This was around last summer and truth is, little by little I got a bit better. I got a new apartment, a boyfriend, started to focus more on myself and getting better. Life became more beautiful and I started to want to become better not only because of others, but also for myself.

    Meanwhile, and after the 2 years she had promised, a chance came up to get a promotion – a chance to receive a little bit more money and a stable job for perhaps the rest of my life. But I needed to be qualified to do so, so I had to undertake an exam, for which my boss helped me by giving me the answers. It is important to mention that, when this opportunity arose, I never asked her (or anyone else) for help – I wanted to make it on my own. But on the day of the exam, she came to me with the answers, leaving me both very anxious and confused, especially because it put me in an illegal situation. I now understand that I had the choice to ignore the answers she gave me – but I didn’t think properly and went with the flow. In the end, I was not caught and everything went out well. Shortly afterwards, she also told me she had put in a good word for me to the higher-up boss; although there is an additional stage to determine who will get the promotion, apparently her boss told her I would get the promotion, but only around the end of (this) year. This all took place in several instances in the last couple of months.

    In the meantime, on one of the occasions I was on her e-mail account answering her e-mails, I found out she was going to give a promotion (different to mine) to the co-worker that was part of my team and whom she always said she didn’t trust (the ass-kisser I mentioned previously). At this point, I didn’t really care about this revelation – I was tired of her character, the constant pressure and heavy workload. I felt more and more demotivated and no interest to continue in the community center. Despite the ‘supposed’ objectives and goals of the community, we rarely worked with the community and most activities were a façade and only implemented in order to present numbers but not real impact. My job consists of ‘painting a nice picture’ of the situation, and I grew tired of it. Not only is my (current) working contract precarious, the work itself is dishonest with no real retribution to the community. And during this past 2 years, I often tried to have a more honest and correct approached, but whenever I (and also other colleagues) tried to do so, we were brought to attention. This had become a vicious, never-ending cycle, leading to many grey areas within the team and the community center in overall.

    I understood that, if I went forward with my promotion process, I would forever be ‘clutched’ to her together with the extra-hours and extra-workload, stress and mediocre tasks. I decided to not accept the promotion and look for another job. But like any other job, I have several projects and tasks I’m responsible for, one of them being especially problematic – of course this made me worry, but there had been many times I took over other people’s processes and solved the issues. From my perspective, I didn’t think of it as a big issue (but then again, I may have been wrong).

    This takes me to last Friday, where I finally had the chance to have a talk with her and let her know I was leaving the community center. She was shocked about my decision, saying me leaving would be a big loss – she would be losing her ‘right arm’ (something she had never said before), and one of the people she trusted the most. But right afterwards, she said I was expendable and she would most certainly find someone to substitute me. When I told her I wanted to leave after a month’s time (as the contract permits), she said she was deeply disappointed in me for wanting to leave before the problematic project finished, specially after all she did for me, and accused me of being selfish, childish, irresponsible and greedy. Furthermore, she threatened to put a process on me for not concluding the project (which is not possible, as there are no legal obligations involved) and accusing me of wanting to work only until half of march, but getting a full-pay for the month (which can be resolved).

    Albeit I maintained myself calm during the whole situation, I was deeply confused and conflicted with myself – I am not leaving the center because I want to run from the responsibilities or complicated issues – I want to leave because these past 2 and something years were a mess and because there are other and better opportunities out there. But ever since our talk, I feel more and more that I was indeed selfish and that I may have not interpreted her actions well. However, and at the same time, I can only think about how:

    • She keeps not respecting the co-workers personal time (sending messages after-hours and during the weekends);
    • She makes personal attacks on the co-workers despite the issue being work-related;
    • She is constantly preaching morals and accusing the team of not being honest, responsible or caring;
    • She is making the team do her work, by giving away her e-mail and task-programme password in order for us to take over them, between other things;
    • She doesn’t give enough time and/or space for us to learn the tasks that are requested and then literally ‘grounding’ the team by giving difficult tasks (and then hold us responsible when we do not rise up to her expectations);
    • When something goes badly, she brags how she assumed the responsibility for the bad results, but that we have disappointed her and gave her a bad image;
    • She bullied two co-workers because she doesn’t like them and because they don’t work as hard as the rest of the team;
    • She has accused me several times of disrespecting her and tried to cross her;
    • Etc., etc.


    I know this is a long text, but I wanted to try to give a general panorama of the situation, because I am aware I was not entirely correct in my conduct, nor did I speak up for myself when I should’ve (and perhaps avoid several situations). But am I indeed so selfish and irresponsible for wanting to leave now? Am I a bad person? I genuinely care for the team, and I don’t want to ‘harm’ them by leaving in the current conditions and it’s messing with me thinking that I’m being selfish and irresponsible by leaving in the current state of things.

    I want to grow as a person but I need to understand whether I am being wrong in my conduct?

  2. #2
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    I am sure someone will give you the time and read this , but wanted to give you a heads up because I hate to see someone get missed out ...shorter posts get more replies x

  3. #3
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    I read the whole post. Your boss wasn't a friend. She was friendly when it served her, but an unprofessional child and narcissist. Can you go back to your old job that paid more for less work?

  4. #4
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    It's a lot to read and take in.

    The one point I can make though is, your boss really needs to stop using the word "friend"..it's completely unprofessional and somewhat manipulative.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    Seems like this job is a life lesson for you.

    Your boss is not and is never your friend. Their job is to get the most out of the employees they supervise at least amount of cost to the company. Sadly, this mean that abusive manipulators tend to excel in this role and that's exactly what your boss is.

    Bottom line is that if you allow people to take advantage of you, they will. Please stop wasting your time and life on this job and take on a better job with better pay and a better culture/quality of life. You clearly have those options. Don't ever again get swindled and hung up on these ideas of loyalty to your boss or to the company. Your boss and your company are never loyal to you. They will use and abuse you and discard you as is convenient. It's your job in life to take care of yourself and your own interests. In that respect, never take on a job based of promises of future promotion. Typically, it's nothing more than bait to get you to work for a bloodsucking company. Learn from this and move on asap. Dust off your resume and start applying fast. Take an actual higher salary and higher position, never ever just promises. Take a big pass on promises.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Sounds more like a coercive cult with a maniacal abusive leader than a corporate job position. Get your resume ready and update your LinkedIn. Do not ask her for a reference, go to someone else.


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