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Are you a perpetual work worrier?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by FriarLawrence, May 18, 2020.


Do you worry about "getting told off" at work?

  1. Yes! All the time.

    10 vote(s)
  2. Yes, a bit.

    9 vote(s)
  3. Not really.

    0 vote(s)
  4. Not at all!

    3 vote(s)
  1. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Senior commenter

    I've always been a worrier. I think I only really recognised it in myself in my thirties, but fear has always been a huge driver of how I operate at work. I did well at school (after a few torrid years in my teens in which I was definitely a bit of a problem child), and got a very good degree from a very good university. I became a teacher in my mid twenties, and have always had a good reputation, good outcomes and (with the exception of a health issue a few years ago) have always been recognised as pretty good.

    But Christ, I'm so often scared at work! And my main fear is that I'll be "found out" - it's not exactly imposter syndrome, because often (as we all do) I do make a mistake or forget to do something. And then I obsess over the possible consequences for ages!

    Essentially, I worry about being "told off". I worry about it a lot, and often. I hate being thought of as lazy or rubbish, and whenever I "mess up", I assume that I will be judged in those terms.

    Anyone else? Is this a common thing in teachers?

    (I should make clear that I do have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, by the way, though it's markedly less bad than it has been in the past!)
    Ezzie and Piscean1 like this.
  2. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    At one time - probably yes - these days - not so much.
  3. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Senior commenter

    I'm looking forward one day to worrying less. I have a change of employer (and sector) coming up in Sept, and my initial impression of my new place is that it's very kind and supportive and collegial. I do hope I'm right about it :)
  4. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Teaching in state schools in England encourages the fear factor. Updating pointless spreadsheets at midnight is a sure indicator that you are scared into doing that nonsense. Public execution of those who do not fill in that spreadsheet is a common tactic in MATs.

    No, I never worry about getting told off.

    I do my job. If a manager asks why I did not fill in a spreadsheet over the week-end, I refer them to the question for the answer. I never work during holidays. I often stay late at school to finish tasks but never more than an hour and I never take work home. I have often used the phrase, "I did not have time to do it yesterday".

    It is a relatively serious matter if a school forces an employee to work beyond a reasonable amount of hours. Legally, an employer could be brought to an industrial tribunal for constructive dismissal or for not providing a safe working environment if people are going off sick with stress. A risk assessment could be carried out on the workload expected by an employer. If that assessment find a serious risk of making people sick, the employer can be forced to change it's working practices. I am mystified why teaching unions do not do more of this. The usual union advice is to find another job. The problem never gets addressed.
  5. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    I had a long break from teaching after I had my children. I did supply, which was basically crowd control, in a school that was grateful I even deigned to turn up. Then I was a TA, and the teachers and parents (even some of the kids) were always happy to see me.

    When I finally returned to teaching, suddenly I was on the back foot all the time, a deliberate tactic on the part of the HT to keep the staff fearful and anxious. The constant checking-up by stealth, the petty fault-finding, always looking over my shoulder as if I was on a permanent driving test, and the incessant justification for what should be autonomous professional decisions might well have tipped me over (I also have underlying anxiety issues but was well-medicated all the time I was teaching) EXCEPT, O JOY! my husband's salary had improved to the point I couldn't care less if I kept the job or not. It was a shortage subject and the first time I walked out, my non-specialist replacement was so poor they rang me and asked me to come back.

    So although I realise not many people, especially now, have the option of saying "You know what? Stuff yer job", that is the only thing that stopped me from probably going on the sick forever with stress and anxiety.
  6. teapot24

    teapot24 Occasional commenter

    Wow you sound exactly like me! I was a relatively late entry into teaching at 31 years old having had 2 kids and a job in banking. But the fear is absolutely real even though probably totally unfounded!
    FriarLawrence likes this.
  7. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Star commenter

    When I worked for a bullying head, then yes! I had sleepless nights over things I thought she would think I did wrong.

    Now I have a great boss who acknowledges that we all have imperfections. I'm a bit of a perfectionist so I can get upset by a small mistake especially when I should have known better. I think my boss knows that no one could be harder on me than I am on myself, so there's no need to hit me harder with a big stick. She's more likely to help me laugh it off.

    I hope your new job is better, that contact fear is very debilitating.
    FriarLawrence likes this.
  8. lexus300

    lexus300 Star commenter

    :D:):):)Sorry for laughing, I know it is tough for those still in service, looking back, the education world carried on without me so what was all the fuss about? My Wife told me many years before I retired that when I retired, they would just carry on. I wish now I had listened to her wisdom.
  9. MyOrchid

    MyOrchid Established commenter

    I can identify with the OP, although I don't think my worries have been as bad as theirs. I have always been conscientious and keen to do a good job. I am a planner and very organised. I also felt that, perhaps, I wasn't as good as other people in my work. Certain members of senior staff, including one where I currently work, have exacerbated this by their tendency to micro-manage.

    I've now been teaching for over 25 years and have realised a few things that have helped me.

    1. If you worry about your work, it often means you will do a better job. By this I mean that the very act of caring about the work you are doing means you are more likely to be better than those who don't worry as much.
    2. Micro-management by senior staff is often a symptom of their fear and lack of confidence, especially if they know nothing about what you teach. This allows you to challenge their decisions, empowering you.
    3. There are some things that you can control. Worrying about things you can't control is pointless.

    Admittedly, a lot of my reduced worry has come from getting older and realising that I do a very good job in comparison with others. My HoD understands that and is supportive, which is nice. I ignore the opinion of those who don't, won't or can't do what I do. I set boundaries in a clear and reasonable way, taking care of what is most important first. A lot of the ephemera just disappears if you let it.

    Finally, being over 50 now means I really don't give a **** as much as I used to, so hang in there!

    Hope that some of this helps.

  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    It saddens me that a work culture can be designed to instill fear so that the realisation of poor pay and pointless directives finds no space to self-invoke justified complaint. The actual space to do this is filled instead with a medical diagnosis of anxiety,depression, sleeplessness, so that ultimately the fault lies with the individual. "It is my fault that I am not doing well enough because I am unwell. It is my illness, not your system which is the hindrance here."
    Blinded to the fact that no matter how much you do, it will not be enough to right the wrongs in society. Literally blinded, despite the widest of eyes.
    It saddens me that for years now we have had a government puppetting education ministers who steer this message. Look after vulnerable kids, redress lack of parity through quality lessons. Narrow the gap by proving you are about to break.

    Each teacher who allows the medicalisation of their overwork to convince them they are not doing well enough is actually partaking in this scam. A government who does very little for disadvantage, who furthers gaps rather than narrow them, who scapegoats, whips and blackmails educationalists shamelessly, is strangely adept at allowing that bit of the NHS to function most superbly.

    I'm not belittling a medical diagnosis of anxiety. I'm sure it's no fun and I wish you recovery. And I'm sure of your dedication to your profession; I commend your caring,and maybe could learn from it sometimes.
    But I bet you wouldn't get that diagnosis if you left teaching.
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
    FriarLawrence likes this.
  11. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Senior commenter

    Oh, I really wouldn't bet the farm on it! I'm very prone to anxiety in aspects of my personal life too: the disorder is, after all, called "generalised anxiety disorder". If there's nothing to worry about, count on me to find something!

    The whole thing surprises people, because on casual acquaintance I seem very cheerful and confident.

    I agree to an extent that medicalising workplace stress can let employers off the hook, but some of us just are more prone to worrying.

    The reason I started the thread is because I think there's comfort in numbers. When you know that other people - good, competent people - feel like this, it helps you contextualise your own fears, I think. :)
  12. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    Same here, FL. I was always known a party girl when I was young; always up for a laugh, great with groups of people, always in demand at parties. The fact that it always required a hefty dose of alcohol for any socialising to happen in the first place seems to have gone completely unnoticed by anyone. When I came down with panic attacks in middle age,even my GP was surprised. People since said "But you stand in front of groups of arsy adolescents all day! How can you do that with anxiety disorder?" It's just different, but if I ever had to question a diktat in a staff meeting, I'd shake, feel sick, feel faint, get palpitations, hyperventilate. And delivering staff training......watch out - bleuuuurrrggh!
    Bloody brain.
    FriarLawrence likes this.
  13. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Senior commenter

    Innit tho. I hope it's better now, or at least less debilitating :)
  14. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    I had the usual collection of sunshine and showers that I seemed to cope fine with until 1996, when for no pinpointable reason during the course of a lovely day, I was just laid out with what I realise now was a panic attack. I thought I was having a heart attack, but what I'd have done if I'd really thought that would have shouted out "SOMEONE CALL AN AMBULANCE!" Instead I locked myself inside a shop loo for hours because I was too scared to come out. I told my husband the next day and it kind of crystallised it. Went to bed and cried for a month. My GP was great, called every day, prescribed excellent meds (sadly now discontinued because of their connection with heart attacks and breast cancer :eek:) which I took for the next 13 years. It's basically just gone away now, although there are certain triggers - catering for other people,making celebration cakes for non-family for example. I don't have to do it but still I do and then fret myself into the ground even though I'm good at it and have never had a total disaster.
    See? Always someone more barmy than you.:D
  15. Piscean1

    Piscean1 Senior commenter

    That original post described me exactly! I am always scared at work of making a mistake. Our work culture doesn't help.
    FriarLawrence likes this.

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