Workplace anxiety

Hi everyone.

I've worked in customer service most of my adult life. One of my first real jobs was at a coffee shop where I only lasted 6 months. I remember the manager telling me to smile more, because apparently customers thought that my behavior wasn't welcoming enough.

Then I worked in a bookshop and it was probably my favorite job out of them all, unfortunately I had to quit because it had such a disastrous effect on my mental health. I remember a woman who called me a f*****g foreigner in front of everyone just because I stood up to her.

And here I am now, working in yet another shop where customers have to be treated like royalty. I've only been working there for 3 months and I already hate it. I have anxiety going there every single day. Don't get me wrong, I am a very hard working person and I commit to my job even though I hate it.

I feel like I'm stuck in the same position with no opportunity to advance. I would love a quiet office job; maybe something like data entry or bookkeeping. Something that doesn't require contact with people all the time... But I can't leave my current job until I gain enough experience to move on somewhere else. And I don't have the funds to study so my only option is to hope for the best.

The other thing is we are currently renting a house so I need to work full time whether I like it or not. My boyfriend also dislikes his job and is probably in worse situation than I am (his job is very physical and has had a serious effect on his health) but still, I don't want to be stuck in customer service all my life. I think I've had enough of people treating me badly just because I work behind the counter.

23 Replies

  • Hi I emphasise with you as I have people being rude to me while doing my job as well but it rarely happened and it wasn't a problem for me. I am very much a people person but not everyone is cut out for such a role.

    The only way you are going to get that nice office job is to study for the type of work you want. Why not try evening school?

    That is not free but is not expensive.

    Or how about the open university? There are also free learning courses online so try Futurelearn. Most office jobs these days though involve speaking to customers over the phone as well but at least you haven't got to smile at customers.

    Nothing is going to change until you make it is it? Good luck on that.

  • Hi, thanks for your reply. I looked for evening courses and diplomas and unfortunately the only one worth trying (and one that would actually give me accredited qualification) is way too expensive (over 2000 euro per year, which is like most of my savings). The other courses are less expensive, but I am not sure about their accreditation. With the free courses, no employer will look at them seriously - if there's no accreditation, you have no professional qualifications, at least not where I live. I feel like shit and I just broke into tears after a representative from the expensive course I mentioned already called me and asked if I was still interested. He said that some employers might fund the course for me but there is no way my boss would do it. My current position is not related to the course so they won't be wasting any money on me. So in conclusion, I have to find a different way of changing my position.

  • Hi..........I don't have advise to give u other than , it's how the cookie crumbles . I was a nurse & I speak 4 languages fluently YET I had a patient who was totally dependent on my help say to me ..."oh, u speak English then , I thought u still swing from tree to tree." I don't think he meant it maliciously.........People who have never traveled & live in the West have a very blinkered idea of the rest of the world !! Ignorance breeds contempt. U either go to night school to get some sort of qualification or u have to suck it up like the rest of us. Don't take it personally.........I don't like the world we live in now. It was a very different place 40 years ago !!

  • I understand what you mean, but like I already mentioned, I have no funds to go to night school and free courses won't do me any good since they are not accredited by any employer where I live... Also, I already have a certificate in business which is just below the college degree level, and even that is not enough.

  • Hi again.........I think the best thing is to sit down & have a REALISTIC heart to heart with your boyfriend .Discuss how u both see the relationship going long term .....How about help from family ( parents in terms of ££/$$ ) Many people sell & buy using ebay which is free. Can u do Over time short term to buy your goods then sell it on ebay at a profit. or if u are artistic , u can sazz u furniture to sell , can u sew ? A little advert in a shop might help get u going or tidying up gardens , that £10.00 an hour . U don't have to be a trained gardener .........these are jobs that don't require u too much human contact . U need to have some extra put aside for bad days & what if u suddenly loose our job.....U are stump. Well , U can either be proactive in your situation or u sit back & say, this world is dreadful & it's all everybody's fault ........ I was a widow v. young . I worked 20 hr days 3 days a week to send my daughter to private school . Ate one meal a day , meat only on Sundays. I am telling u this becos it can be done , depends on how determined u are & this separates the men from the boys . Many people do this, I'm not the only woman who has sacrificed Good luck.

  • We've been together for almost 7 years so I can honestly say that our relationship is very strong. We can't ask for help from our parents as they struggle with money themselves... We were thinking of starting our own business but as stupid as it sounds, I have absolutely no idea what that business would be. I could sell something online, but what? And it would have to be something that people will buy regularly so we have regular income... I admire your courage and commitment and I wish I had them too... Thank you for your comments

  • Well there u are, PEOPLE FEAR for the sake of FEAR. I arrived in this country alone aged 16 ...........I built up to 3 homes all over the world & hand on heart ........I DID EVERYTHING myself. !! I have also Lost alot ( REALLY ALOT ) By not doing anything like u are now, U are ALWAYS going to be in that position BUT by TRYING........there is a chance , more than a chance of success !! Good Luck

  • That is awful Jeanni and it is against the law. I hope you reported it. I am white British so have never had that sort of thing apart from in a letter where someone assumed I was a 'foreigner' because I cross my 7's and told me to go back to where I belonged!

    I have had lots of sexism though in the workplace as all women have. Not sure about now so much but certainly in my younger days. Unfortunately you are never going to escape from stupid prejudiced people as that is the way the world is.

    Like you said you have just got to suck it up and deal with it. It's not right and it's not fair but did anyone ever promise life was fair?

    It's not all bad today though as 40 years ago things which were acceptable then are no longer which is a good thing. Discrimination is taken much more seriously nowadays than it used to be, both racially and sexually. Hopefully though it will die out one day but I'm not holding my breath.

  • Hi .........No I have never reported it . What for ...It's more stress. If that's the way he thinks, I'm never going to change his mind BUT like I said , I don't think it was malicious & I think I impacted his life & opinion by the time he left hosp. but if I had complained about him , he would go away thinking "bloody foreigner " who does she think she is. This way, I have made a bigger impact by not reacting & quietly dong my job . U are not going to change the world IF we ALL start saying u mustn't be homophobic or sexiest ........The only way is by quietly doing your job & actions SPEAK 100 times louder than marches .

    Did u know the nurses during the days of Florence Nightingale had to TASTE their patient's urine if they suspected their patient's were diabetics ?? Yeah .......yuk u say now ............That's how the cookie crumbles then & I'm no push over. I'm a Buddhist & perhaps that's partly how I deal with ALL my adversities . U have read my reply to u. U have to always look back at the person who is "bullying "u. It tells u PLENTY about the person. , not u.

  • I agree completely with that. It doesn't make it hurt less though does it?

  • I brush it off & it doesn't hurt me becos he's showing me his level of ignorance not the other way round.So.......I am sensative when sensitivity is needed. perhaps this is how I'm wired OR I'm thick skinned haha. Have a good one .

  • Thank you, you too. I learned many years ago that you can't control what others do only yourself. So as long as you behave well it doesn't really matter what ignorant people say and do does it?

  • EXACTLY so why are u so depressed that u feel u are loosing control of ........When I said hormones. I don't mean time of month , I mean your Seratonin & Endorphin levels & also hormones from your adrenal glands. Just going to your GP for it to be checked ............GP's are now very ill equipped to cope with modern society. have a good one.

  • You should apply to some easy entry level office jobs(answering phones,filing,organizing) There are employers who will train. Don't give up! Just apply and go to interviews. I wish you the best!

  • Hi, I forgot to clarify that I already work as a receptionist/call centre clerk and my job involves answering phones (which I hate) filing and so on.. So I'm not sure what to do anymore..

  • There is a WOIA program funded by the federal government to help individuals with job training grants. You can take advantage of the grant in getting training for the job you would prefer. I suggest you please check out your local workforce office for information on how to get started, the choices available and how soon you can get approved for training. And you can also get flexible training so you can work while you train.

    You say you don't like your current job so best you get to working on getting training for a better one.😃

  • Hi, I'm not sure which program are you talking about but I live in Ireland so I don't think we're talking about the same one. Thank you for all the encouragement but I don't think I will get any funding for courses because I work full-time. If I was unemployed, the government would probably give me some sort of support.

  • One of the biggest reasons I went to collage was to get away from retail. I was a caisher for a lot of my life and I hated it every time I started a new job. Retail is hard. Even harder when you suffer from anxiety. I tried a retail job last year after 6 years of not working due to raising kids and school. I thought it would be nice for my family to bring in some extra cash. I lasted 4 months before I quit. I hated being trapped at my register for 8 hours. It would cause me panic attacks. I hate the feeling of being trapped. Also my managers were not very friendly. I would have to ding a bell and flash my light just to use the bathroom. They would also get annoyed for asking to go. I was approaching work one day and was like, Nope. Not going to live my life suffering. Maybe try finding a new retail spot. There are plenty of places. I know it sucks feeling like you don't have any options but you do. Target is a really good place to work for. I have family who's worked there for years and they love it.

  • I know it sounds ridiculous, but I believe that we should sentence people to working in retail instead of sending them off to jail, haha! Ringing the bell to go to the bathroom sounds awful, I'm glad you moved on from there. I decided to stay at my current job until a better opportunity comes up, hopefully I'll have more experience to show on my CV and will find something better. Thank you for your reply!

  • I believe that we were in the same position. My last job was customer service as well. Sometimes I couldn't handle all these people coming up to me (behind the counter/registers) all day and me just standing there having to please them and make their experience "more than great." Due to severe anxiety, I'm not good at small talk. Which is always needed for a job like that. Plus, each customer is different and you never know what you're gonna get next. I felt trapped.

    Discuss some options with your boss in a different area. Especially if you are diagnosed with anxiety, it will be a lot easier to get moved somewhere else to a different position due to anxiety because a lot of work places require a doctors note for any accommodation.

    I've worked customer service my whole life, and I get it. Panic disorder, severe depression, ADHD, and the list goes on... It took me a few years to let go of some pride and ask for some sort of accommodation, but it will save a lot of your energy. And I'm sure you know how draining it all is at the end of the day. Even draining in getting the courage to walk into work every day.

    Also keep in mind, experience is experience ANYWHERE.

  • Hey I have anxiety and depression as well. I also suffer from social anxiety I am an introvert..... being said all that gives me relief just to get it out in the open like off my chest. So thank God for this place we all keep coming to share our selves with each other and I thank you for sharing your story which intrigued me because I work in a Hospital..... weird right... I can last for 13 hours with people I don't know. Who need me to bring them pain meds or help them eat or feed them or clothed them exedra and some patience I have are super awesome and some other patients make me feel insignificant. Then when I rush home I'm safe. Rechargeable. When I read your post I would say to you like I would my kids. ! You are worth more than you know. Only one like you in this whole world. Your lots of beauty and uniqueness wrapped up in one body. And I would love for you to go back to school. Yes every job or career always deals with customer service but just go back to school better your surroundings it's a start to a new life instead of the hustle you're going through. Either way you're doing a great job and if you were one of my kids I would be proud.

  • Hi, your reply made me smile and I instantly felt better. I had another tiring day at work and it was great to read your words after such a day, thank you so much and I wish you all the best too!

  • Anytime my dear!

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