Friday 29 June 2018

How to cope in an unhappy job

Does your job make you miserable? Do you spend the working week feeling drained and exhausted during the evenings because you're stuck in a working environment from hell? Dread going into the office the following day and spend all your weekends worrying about the forthcoming working week ahead? Maybe it's taking its toll on your enjoyment of life and ruining your relationships outside of your work.

My God, I promise you - I've been there. Excluding a few happy jobs most of mine have been full of hell and unhappiness. They ruined my life, wrecked my self-esteem and held any happiness I had hostage. I've been bullied, isolated, unhappy, lonely and secluded in many of my previous jobs. From being treated like a total dogsbody; taking asos parcels to the post office for someone else's daughter all the time (why did I put up with that?!) To being ripped apart and judged. To being shouted at in front of the whole office and for being treated like a nuisance for reporting bullying. Even working at my favourite magazine ended in the same kind of unhappiness. I spent lunchtimes alone in London, and wanted to just walk out so badly. Safe to say, not the dream opportunity that I'd hoped it would be.

The job from hell
I'll use one previous job as my prime example - this job was a temporary role only lasting for three months, yet it may as well have been a jail sentence for the desperate unhappiness it brought. Things got off to a bad start from the very first day. Initially advertised and discussed as a three day a week position,  when I first arrived I was told huffily that I'd be working five days a week and hadn't the recruiter told me? No, she bloody well hadn't. This was somehow made out to be my fault, as I tried to explain that I needed the position to be three days a week - not only because I'd taken on the job being told this - but because I was writing my novel and blogging alongside it.

The manager was (I won't dress it up), an absolute bitch to be incredibly generous. On my first day I got a bad feeling about her, and I was proven right. She made an uninterested phone call to the recruiter in front of me (and the whole office) and after a while of me waiting, she told me "it's been agreed you can work four days instead of five". As if she was doing me some massive favour. Not wanting more trouble before I'd even begun, I agreed with reluctance that four days would be fine. "Can I do four days please, Miss?" Chirped another colleague - a pathetic middle-aged excuse for a man - loudly enough for everyone to hear. "No, you have to do five days like everyone else," hit back the manager - for my benefit I'm sure.

After being ticked off like a school child at the manager's desk for not doing an Excel spreadsheet to her satisfaction, I was ordered to do it again and I walked back to my own desk with shaky legs and feelings of panic already taking over. Another blow soon arrived - an annoying little pest from my high school days appeared in front of me, triumphant and smug. Turned out he was working in the same office, and would be overlooking some of my duties. I could tell he was loving the power of that already. Even though he wasn't all too bad in the end, I could tell he enjoyed coming over to me when I did some work for him - pointing out things I did wrong, criticising.

I was spoken to like dirt 
There were lots of occasions where the manager would speak to me like dirt, I remember once doing some photocopying and trying my hardest not to cry because she'd done it again. One lovely colleague passed by and I urged her inwardly not to say anything to me as I knew if she did I'd burst into tears then and there. Another colleague who I did some jobs for used to have a go at me - she hadn't explained something once yet decided to make it my fault. There were a lot of nice people at the job, but the manager was the one I had to deal with the most and it was miserable. She made it clear she didn't particularly like me. I tried my best, but, already feeling anxious and unhappy, I struggled. On one occasion when I asked to book some holiday (that I was owed) she decided to make things difficult for me and said, again, in front of the whole office "Do you have to take it?" In a tone that suggested she wasn't joking. 'Well, yes. I do. I'm owed it..." I replied in as strong a tone as I could. Rolling her eyes, she filled out the holiday form and handed it back to me as if I was doing her a major injustice.

The job ruined my life. I hated it...

My life was miserable in those three months - I had rows and arguments with those closest to me, no doubt set-off by all the hell I was going through at work. Lunchtimes were spent on the phone to my boyfriend, telling him how I was struggling to cope. Evenings were full of dread for the next working day and although I was lucky to only be working four days a week, I felt nothing but fear and suffocation for what might happen next at work. I look back and feel nothing but dread, upset, misery and angst during that period of my life. However short-term, that job ruined my life - every moment of it. 

A lucky escape 
When the job ended I was asked if I wanted to stay. The manager seemed keen for me to apply for a long-term position in that same office. I couldn't believe what I was hearing - she'd made my life so miserable and seemed to not like me very much, yet here she was, persuading me to work there on a permanent basis. I almost laughed. Thankfully I was going to be doing some travelling, so I had that as a ready excuse. At that time in my life I never would have dreamt of making a stand about the way I'd been treated. I just wanted to get the hell out - as soon as bloody possible.


Writing everything down is really important. I did this at a job where I had an "exit interview" with HR. A few of us who were leaving had pages of writing full of all the horrible stuff we'd been put through by our manager. So many vital points would have been missed out if I hadn't taken the time to note it all down. HR were shocked at how we'd been treated but sadly it was too late for those of us that had taken all we could and were leaving the job unhappily. I just hope they made the relevant changes at this job that they needed for improvement. 

Don't beat yourself up for someone else's bad behaviour. If you're going through hell at work that doesn't mean it's your fault. We often tell ourselves how weak, pathetic, useless and foolish we are when things go wrong. But that's not true. You need to protect your energy by boosting yourself up. Remind yourself of all your talents, your skills and all the good qualities you have. 

Try and find the root of the problem. When did the unhappiness start? How did it start? When did it become a real issue? Is someone's toxic behaviour affecting your job? Maybe you're unhappy because the job role has changed, or it's not what you want to do for the rest of your life. Once you have the real root of the problem you can take the outward steps needed to improve your unhappy job situation and the happiness you're lacking in your life because of it. 


Make an "unhappiness exit strategy"
Think about your next logical steps - can you leave? What steps can you take towards getting a new job or finding a way out? This could provide you with a new direction and a fresh start. If you enjoy the job then you shouldn't have to be pushed out by someone else's behaviour, which leads on to my next steps. 

Confide in a colleague you trust 
Sometimes when another colleague you get on well with is aware of a situation it can really make all of the difference. At one particular job a friend of mine was well aware and just knowing she knew what I was going through was a comfort. They might even come up with a useful way of tackling the issues head on with management.

Speak up for yourself if possible 
Please, please, please stand up for yourself if you can. I never did this and how I regret it now. Even when one manager was aware that I was being bullied I was made to feel as though I was being a nuisance. I just wanted to escape from each job with as little trouble as possible, but, hang on, I wasn't the one causing trouble?! I was the one being made to leave a job because of someone else's bullying behaviour. We're often made to feel as though we're "making a fuss" or being "too sensitive" so a lot of bad behaviour in the workplace goes unreported. Additionally, we don't want more trouble or hassle from the culprit so we choose to keep quiet. But the trouble and hassle has long since been happening and will only get worse if it goes unreported. Not only that, but it'll only happen to other people in the future too.

Don't allow bullying to be brushed aside
My bullying in another job role wasn't treated or taken seriously - the manager actually told me to hurry up and talk to her in her office before the culprit got back to the office and saw us talking! She was scared the colleague who had been carrying out this behaviour would see and wonder what was up. I wish I'd been more firm about how unacceptable this was.

Talk to higher management
In another job when there wasn't bullying but there was a lot of draining, toxic behaviour (that saw three of us leaving the job in the space of a few short months), I wish I'd actually spoken to higher management about this. I could see how much higher management regretted this in my exit interview, and wished things had been done differently. Although supportive - there wasn't much they could do as so many of us were already leaving.

Explain it from your point of view
Try and make it clear that this unhappy working environment is ruining your life. Set out how it's been making you feel and explain this can't carry on. 

Speak to someone close to you
I understand how hard it is to confront issues at work. Sometimes confiding in someone who's got your back is a great release and I'm sure they'll be more than happy to provide help and support.

Lastly, and maybe most important of all, you deserve respect. Remember that. Just because someone is higher up the ladder than you, or your manager - it doesn't give them the right to disrespect you.

"Nothing is worth sacrificing happiness for" 



  1. First, This dress looks stunning on you! I have not seen woman who would rock these sparkly dress each time like you do. I admire your style.
    Second, Your suggestions are on pints. Sadly people react differently to certain looks that is different to their usual work look. Fashion forward would not make us less competent but they judge by appearance not ability. I have been judged on my hair look few years ago and I wished I did something about it though the one who judged me was the owner and CEO of the company. I left after one month. let's connect on instagram:

  2. This is such a good topic to address, Sophie! It's incredible what a negative impact not enjoying your job can have on you; your general wellbeing can decline so quickly! Love your point about ''unhappiness exit strategy''. Once you start planning how to move on and out of a role you dislike, it can seem far less stressful as you know you won't be there for much longer :) I've no doubt this post will truly help anyone reading this who dislikes their current role! Hope you're having a fabulous weekend so far babe :)

    ps. looking SO gorgeous in this dress - legs for daaaaays! x

  3. I love that dress, but what a sad post that accompanied it. You're braver than I am, I wouldn't have stuck out something so horrible for so long! I'm also amazed they thought you would want to stay on - it doesn't sound like a nice environment to be in at all!

    Hope you're having a wonderful weekend so far! :) We did some snow tubing in the city at the winter wonderland, which was fun!

    Away From The Blue Blog

  4. First of all - that dress is flipping gorgeous! Secondly - I wish I had your legs. And third - this was an incredible, honest and raw post. I'm disgusted by how they treated you but I'm so proud that you had the will power to get out and choose happiness. I've been in that boat before, I still cry and get scared and anxious when I think back to my old job. This post will help a lot of people. Thank you beautiful.

    Han xo |

  5. I feel this so much. I've had a few jobs in my lifetime and sometime great, some hell of earth and it's more about the environment than the people normally for me.
    Great tip about writing everything down.

    Kate xx

  6. Really wise text, I think that no job is worth such suffering. Feeling of being respected and happiness are so important and every manager should remember that the employee is not a slave and deserve for the respect.

    Beautiful dress! As always you look absolutely fantastic!


  7. Oh girl. I am so so sorry you went through that. I love how much confidence you now have and that you are strong enough to share your experience! xx

  8. Hahahahaa...I like how you said you won't dress the manager, but called em a bitch. Classic insult right there Sophie. Lol!! I have been there and you know I recently left a job because I wasn't happy with some uncalled for changes. I mean like you said, what's the point of being in a job that you're disrespected, not valued or your soul isn't happy? Nah!! Thanks for shinning a light on this. You look gorgeous in that dress. :-)

  9. Thank you for addressing this, I have finished school and have the whole world of work ahead so it's really good to read posts like this and give me a real insight in to the good, bad and ugly. Go on you for knowing your value! xx

  10. I've just found your blog and related to this post so much! Been there with bullying co-workers and being made to feel like a nuisance. I'm unhappy in my current job but it's mostly because of the job itself- I'll definitely be taking some points on board! :)

  11. I relate to this so much! I've had some problems with bizarre managers and one in particular was just unreal. It makes you wonder what they are thinking, when like you said, they wanted you to stay on after giving you so much grief - I don't understand that mentality at all! I'm glad that you don't have to put up with that nonsense anymore! Good for you sweet one! ♥♥♥

  12. Great posts!
    So many valid points on so many levels.

    Luke |Luke Heywood Style

  13. Your advice is so on point! It's hard when you're starting out and don't know better about what you deserve and most importantly your rights to be treated with respect. I'm so glad you wrote on this topic because there are so many girls out there that are or have been in your same position. I was one of them at one point and can relate to so many of the things you went through. Thanks for opening up and offering advice from your own personal hardships. You are beautiful inside and out. Continue writing from the heart babe!


  14. so so important post- I think that people don;t have to like each other but THEY HAVE TO respect each other.

    I like so much your pictures- this dress is so original. You look great wearing them xx

  15. Wow I have been there too and I don't want to go back to it Bullying in workplace is very common It has to end Well done for speaking up babe Love this post xoxo Cris

  16. This is great for anyone going through this. Sadly my experience is there are lot of terrible managers out there but HR are reluctant to address the issue because they know they would be difficult. It's easier to let junior staff leave than treat root cause.

  17. Well done for posting this, I once went through a similar situation and it got to the point that I would spend my days off worrying about going back and then I eventually got fired for being ill haha.

    Rosy | Sparkles of Light Blog

  18. Nice work. You have some clear examples.