Job Satisfaction and Fear of Failure

For a little over a year, I had a great job. Or rather, the kind of job that looks great on a resume. When I got the job offer in September of 2017, I thought “I would be stupid not to take this offer!” I was making more money than I ever had before. The job came with more vacation days than I could use in a year, and extra perks like free lunches twice a week. It was the kind of job my friends were jealous of. The catch? I wasn’t happy.

“Nobody likes their job!” That was the most common response people gave me over the past few months when I expressed I had grown unhappy at work. I knew in my gut I wanted to leave, but that response made me feel like I should just suck it up. Like maybe I was overreacting and needed to just grow a thicker skin, because everyone else was in the same boat.

“If everyone is right and nobody likes their job, then I guess it’s just something I need to get used to and stop complaining about. Maybe seeking happiness at work is unrealistic. Will I be any happier at a new job? Maybe I’m the problem, and I’m just not fit to be in a 9 to 5 job! Maybe things will get better if I just try harder and stick it out…”

My inner thoughts over the past few months

I let other people’s opinions and comments about how “nobody likes their job” get to me. I decided that if I worked harder, and tried on a “fake it till you make it” attitude, maybe things would magically get better at work. The problem was, I didn’t feel passionate or satisfied with anything I was doing. I was burning myself out on a job I didn’t love. Before too long this started to reflect in my work. I wasn’t performing as well as I could have. Which only made my satisfaction at work plummet even more.

I’ve always been a perfectionist. I seek approval from others, as well as from myself. I so badly wanted to make this job work, to prove I was competent and capable and good enough. I was terrified of failure, of being judged, of what people would think of me if I didn’t succeed. It took me back to the feeling of being a teenager, scared of making anything less than an A in school. Or a 20-something avoiding sharing the news that my relationship had failed.

This blog provides an outlet for me to be vulnerable and talk about things that are difficult to admit. It forces me to share the less-than-perfect parts of my life. Little by little, I’m ridding myself of the notion that I need to appear perfect to everyone in my life. It’s so freeing to let go of that and just be open and honest. So here goes: I lost my job. I tried to make it work, and I failed.

It was a surreal experience because, like I said above, I wasn’t happy. I didn’t actually want to be there. But my fear of failure and of other people’s judgements was stronger than my desire to leave. The silver lining is that I’ve learned a lot from this experience, and changed my perspective on job satisfaction. My opinion is, if you truly are unhappy in your job, don’t ignore that! It’s okay to walk away. Don’t let fear of failure overpower your own happiness. Trying to force yourself to be happy never works. Ignoring those feelings will only backfire, and it will all catch up to you eventually. 

So where am I now? I’m what I like to call “happily unemployed.” I’m taking some time to really think about what I want and need out of my next job. Do I want to continue working in the social media field, or do I want to make a career change? This is the main question I’m asking myself as I assess my options and look for a new job. The main thing I’m feeling right now is excitement for the future. I don’t know where I’ll be a month from now, but I’m ready for a new beginning!

Have you ever felt stuck in a job you didn’t love? Do you agree with the idea that “nobody likes their job”? Let me know in the comments!

43 thoughts on “Job Satisfaction and Fear of Failure

  1. Oh my gosh I 100% relate to this! I have been through this exact same situation. I was at a “dream” job with perks (free lunch every day, a gym, casual dress, even dry cleaning) and I. was. MISERABLE. I was completely burning myself out, and I knew it wasn’t a good fit for me, but I felt like I couldn’t leave. I definitely let it get into my head and let it make me feel like I was a failure or was not good enough to survive the working world. My performance suffered, and I was fired from this role – and it was the most freeing thing. I actually have a blog post going up next week celebrating 1 year from being fired and how far I’ve come since then! (I’m now in a job I absolutely love, even though I don’t get free lunch) 🙂

    You are definitely doing the right thing using your unemployment time to reflect on what you want to do with your career. I know losing a job can feel like a devastating black hole of “what now?”, but it will definitely be for the best for you. Don’t let this job loss make you feel like you’re a failure, or like you can’t hack it. All it means is that that specific job was not the right fit for you, and you’re made for something else, and something way better!

    Wishing you so much luck in your career journey! I’ll be subscribing to follow along!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! It’s good to hear you can relate and that you’re now in a job you love! I completely agree, I think this will be for the best and I’m excited to see what the future holds for me. Thanks for subscribing! I’ll check out your blog too and I’ll look forward to reading your post next week! 🙂

  2. Hi Shellyray, inasmuch as I may agree with you that “nobody likes their job”, to some percentage I disagree with this. What is there is that, most people like to be self-employed–which is no a secret. To me I can say I’ve experience the same thing, only that I’ve not left my job but the truth is I don’t like it at all. I believe at some point I’ll jump out of it and do what I love.

    1. I also disagree with it, I think there are people who do like their job! At least I hope so. Self employment is very appealing to a lot of people, I agree. I hope you find the courage to leave when you’re ready!

  3. So relatable! I went through very similar struggles over the past year so its always nice to hear stories like this that I can relate to. After I quite my 9-5 job last summer I moved to Korea to teach English for a year while I figure out what to do next, and it is nice to have a job that I actually like for a change. Thanks for sharing!

    1. So glad you can relate, and it’s great to hear you took a risk and you actually like what you’re doing now! Thanks for your kind comment, best of luck to you!

  4. I think a lot of us have at least one job we hate and doesn’t feel right to us. But it doesn’t mean your a failure. When I lost my job I took that opportunity to really sole search and see what I wanted to do next with my life and career.

  5. I was in your same spot about 6 years ago and have to say, do not worry. I thought I loved my job, but hindsight is always 20/20 and I can tell you right now, it was sucking the life of out me. It was a bit of an adjustment at first, to be a stay a home mom, that is. But, I made the right choice to leave; it was the BEST decision I’ve ever made. You need to be happy first and foremost. Whether it’s as a professional basket weaver, or what-have-you…put you first and hang in there!!!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment! That’s awesome to hear you took a chance and are so happy now as a stay at home mom. I couldn’t agree more about needing to be happy! Thanks for your encouragement. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! It’s so nice to hear I am not alone and so many people go through similar experiences. That’s awesome you’re a better person now!

  6. Amazing post Shelly!!! I don’t consider your experience as a failure, not at all!!! You’re experimenting, learning, exploring and there is nothing wrong with that. These are actually the formula for success!!! So bravo for failing and i hope you “fail” even more, you’re gonna do great things, i am certain about it!


    1. Thanks so much Chad! I really appreciate that. That’s such a good point, being successful means trying new things and experimenting like you said. Thanks for your encouragement!

  7. Love it! I’ve been “unemployed” for over a year and I love it! I was in the military for 9yrs and got burned out by the stress of it all. I’ve since then moved to Austin and am actively build two different businesses and trying to be a better husband and father. It’s not easy, but at least I’m living life on my terms and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Have you ever thought of going into business for yourself?

    1. That’s awesome! I live in Austin too by the way! Yes I’ve often thought about working for myself. My dad is an entrepreneur too so I’ve thought about following in his footsteps. Definitely seems really rewarding!

  8. I LOVE my job…but I’m a self-employed photographer. Now do I wish it paid the same money as my old 9-5 corporate job? HELL YES. But I’m working hard and hopefully I’ll get there!

  9. I have been down this road. I am thankful to say that I truly love my job. Of course, it is tiring sometimes but it IS what I am supposed to be doing and I 95% of the time, love it!!

  10. What an interesting story to read that everybody can relate. This is a great motivation and very inspirational to never give up whatever the situation is.

  11. I know how you feel, being stuck in a job you don’t love although is a dream job is not easy at all. Others don’t understand you and they think you are just complaining. But at the end of the job how you feel is so important so glad you have the time to go find something else to do which you would enjoy more.

    1. Yes that is so true! It’s hard to listen to your heart and not worry about other people’s opinions. Thank you! I’m excited for what is to come this year for me.

  12. This is something I have been struggling with. Is it true everyone just works a crappy job, so that they can afford to do things they love? OR do some people actually love going to work everyday!? It’s so hard!

  13. I can definitely relate to everything you’ve said here Shelly, sadly. I think they are feelings a lot of us go through at some points in our lives. So the most comforting words I can give you are that you are not alone x

    1. I think you’re right, as I’ve been opening up more about this I’ve had a lot of people reach out and say they can relate. It does help knowing I’m not alone! 🙂

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