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Woe Is Me! “I Live In Constant Fear Of Being Fired. How Do I Cope?”

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Dec 11, 2022

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Image Credit: Sitaron Se Aage (1958)

Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.


“I left my previous job, where I worked for three years, to try my hand at something new. It took a lot of effort to make this switch to a completely new field, knowing that I lacked the experience. Now, I’ve been at my current job for almost nine months, and have learned how to apply myself to this work. But, every day I walk into the office with the feeling that I am going to be fired. This started about five months ago and has begun affecting my productivity now. It has thoroughly shaken my confidence in my abilities, which only strengthens this fear of mine. How do I deal with this?”

— In anticipation of doomsday

DR: Having made a similar switch a few years ago — from law to journalism — I feel you completely; it’s tough. Your worry about being fired might stem from a larger, more subconscious concern, perhaps, that if you do lose this job, it’ll mean that you “wasted” these nine months starting from scratch at a new career for nothing. Perhaps, seeing your peers from your previous job getting promoted while you’ve just begun a new stint and are yet to rise in the ranks here might be frustrating, too. Once you’re aware of what exactly it is that is bothering you, though, things get a lot more easier because you can then address these concerns by consciously reasoning with yourself. So, I’d urge you to introspect. Maybe, you’ll find some clues as to what’s really behind your worries if you think back to what happened five months ago that may have triggered them. If you can’t trace the source of your worries yourself, you can seek help from a close friend, perhaps, whom you frequently confide in. Therapy is another option.

AS: It must be incredibly tough for you to start your workday with this fear nagging away at the back of your mind. Unless something happened at work five months ago that has led to this fear, it seems to me like this may be a manifestation of a fear of failure — which you are, of course, not alone in experiencing. A new job in a new field is bound to raise some

I would suggest you try to counter this fear every morning by consciously reminding yourself that you are doing well, and are more than capable of tackling this new job. Anytime you find yourself lacking in terms of experience or knowledge, try to take it as an opportunity to learn and grow, instead of a pressure to perform. It’s previously uncharted territory for you, and understandably, it takes time to settle in. Sharing this fear and working through it with those you trust — or even a professional — may help. Especially so, if it’s becoming overwhelming to the extent that it’s affecting your work and mental health.

RN: This is anxiety talking, and I know it’s hard to logic your way out of it. I could tell you that the facts speak for themselves — for starters, you got the job you wanted despite being new to the field; then with time, you learnt to apply yourself; not only that, you’ve been around for nine months at your new job! This doesn’t sound to me like a person who’s about to get fired, it looks like an incredibly talented, multi-faceted person who had the courage to take a big, risky step. The way you’re feeling now probably speaks to your fear of losing something you’re enjoying — or have wanted — for a while. But I’m loathe to psychoanalyze you without knowing of your circumstances beyond a few lines so I’ll say this: can you go to someone who can psychoanalyze you? Until then, can you also take a short break to put some distance between the immediacy of the job and your personal life? Maybe a week off to go hike in the mountains or endlessly binge a show in bed — either way, it looks like you need some time off and then restart the grind with a fresh mind, and as blank a slate as your mind will allow.

AS: The situation is indeed very grim, and it is understandably cyclical. If there is someone in your office whom you can confide in — someone more experienced, perhaps — then you could consider trying speaking about this to them. Maybe, they’ll have some experience of their own to share that can help you find your confidence. Or, even if not, they will know that whatever you’re doing isn’t entirely on you. In the long term, though, maybe you should try speaking to someone professional about this. Otherwise, this will only keep repeating, and getting worse with each repeat.

QG: Have you thought about where exactly this fear may suddenly be stemming from? By your own admission, you’ve acclimated well to the job, so the question is whether there is something specific that has thrown you off your game? Try to get to the source of this fear and half the job is done. We spend so much of our lives at our workplaces, it is essential that we make it as healthy a place as possible for our own selves. If entering your office is filling you with anxiety, it is necessary for you to face it head on, and get to the bottom of it. Is there anyone you can reach out to at your workplace, who can help you navigate this? If yes, do that. Moreover, I think your work will always speak for yourself. If there’s sincerity and hard work being done, it will show. Nothing will be able to take that away from you — not even getting fired. Lastly, being self-confident is key to everything you do in your life. I know this is so much easier said than done. But you have to find ways to do just that — to be honest, as we all do. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out help — talk this out with somebody, you can alternatively even opt for therapy!

Add this to your playlist, take a deep breath and confront your fear head on. You got this!

DD: I would suggest (if you haven’t already), try writing down specifically the possible reasons for why you might be feeling this way, it might help bring more perspective and clarity for the situation. Maybe bringing it up with a trustworthy colleague would even help you navigate the situation better. Ultimately, the place you work at should ideally be a place where you thrive and  not just survive, if it’s making you incredibly anxious try getting to the bottom of it as soon as possible but also whenever you’re feeling ready to.  

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Written By The Swaddle Team

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