Watch out, friends, because it’s another personal processing post coming at you live. This one has been building up for a little bit. If you’re a regular reader, you are probably not shocked at all by any of these “revelations” today. But, I wanted to process a bit. Mostly about becoming jaded, as that’s something that certainly has happened, ever since I went full-time into the work force. I’m struggling a bit with that knowledge and how to navigate my day job while knowing it’s made me jaded.
Certainly looking for advice with this one, but I won’t turn out sympathetic reads, either. (Or, honestly, call outs, if that’s warranted!)
As Always, The Context
Without diving too much into the specifics and accidentally doxxing myself, I currently work at the same university I attended undergrad. I’ve worked here since early 2016, so that’s what, roughly seven years? (By gods, I can’t believe that.) The first four years were as a librarian’s assistant. The past three years, it’s been as an academic advisor.
The job itself is something I highly enjoy. I get to use my Type A organizational skills to help my students stay on track to graduate. Sometimes, I serve as a mentor and example to them. Other times, I’m simply a resource. But having a job where I feel like I’m actually making a positive impact means more than I honestly expected. Especially since it’s much higher stress than my previous job.
Where I’ve become jaded (to the point of actually sometimes being ashamed to have graduated from this institution) is thanks to the leadership and supervision within academic advising. It has been toxic the entire time I’ve been here. (Though I didn’t start to notice it and struggle with it until about half a year in.) Currently, we are going through a restructure, which is combining eight individual advising units into one unit.
Current Jaded Examples
Hopefully, that context helped so we can get into the actual meat of this situation. At first, I was very excited about the restructure. Like most things in academia, it came from on high, without much input or feedback from those affected. But, I hoped it would be a way to address the toxic work environment within our office; one that, so far, had been ignored and left unchecked.
We’re just officially starting the transition this week, yet I find myself feeling frustrated and defeated by it already. I’m wondering if this is unfair. Are those feelings actually a result of me hanging onto the negative association I label my day job with? Some examples of why I’m feeling frustrated include:
Lack of accountability
So, in the restructure, they had chances for advancement (which included current leadership needing to reapply for those roles). I have mixed feelings about that process. But, selfishly, I hoped that the rationale behind it was to quietly demote toxic leaders.
Yet my supervisor was rehired, who is one of the most toxic I’ve ever encountered. And there are multiple others who were promoted who I’m shocked about. (Not to mention rumors supposedly from members of the search committee that those hires didn’t match their recommendations).
So, despite my new assignment to a team that isn’t with my toxic supervisor, the entire process felt too akin to the “old” model, which included favoritism and popularity contests.
Feeling unheard (already)
Though much of our new processes aren’t yet known, we have gotten some clarity on a few things. Namely: expectations of how our calendars will be managed, what our remote days will be and how team meetings will be handled.
As this was starting to be revealed, I pitched an idea of how to set up our calendars. At it’s core, it’s purpose was to still give plenty of availability for our students, but without burning out advisors. The burn out has been a major concern in the past. One that was met with two answers from our leadership: this is how it’s always been OR you must do this, for your students. I backed up my pitch with data, support from other advisors and with the idea that it could be a trial run, to be revisited if it didn’t work.
The answer was…less than ideal. Basically, the current leadership team already has their own ideas, so they won’t be entertaining ones from us. Then, not a week later, they announced that they are taking away an hour of prep/catch-up time to make us available to see 12 students a day, instead of 10. (My pitch was to see 8 students a day, which would still allow us, mathematically, to see each assigned student twice a semester).
This makes me feel ridiculously unheard and not even remotely understood. I explained my concerns and the response was, “we want all of our advising to be unified as one team, so this is how it’s going to be this semester.” Despite the fact that my concern is that my quality of advising is going to decrease, lacking accurate time to prepare each day.
The sense of putting advisors last
On top of all this, one of the things promised to us in May, when this was first announced, was that pay inequities would be addressed. For context: depending on which unit advisors were in, some were paid more than others doing the exact same job. We were all very excited for this, because that meant raises (including for me).
Yet, as they hired the new group of advisors (since they’re also expanding) at the new higher rate, they haven’t yet addressed our pay. So, everyone new (including those freshly graduated with this as their first job) are making more than some of us who have been here years (some even with advanced degrees).
Then, they announced that they wouldn’t even start looking at pay increasing and addressing that until October. So, it most likely won’t go into effect until December. This, on top of the top-down leadership brainstorming taking in no feedback, the keeping of some toxic leadership and already making changes we didn’t ask for, feels like everything is, so far, being determined with current advisors last in considerations.
So, that’s where we’re at, currently. Personally, it’s left me feeling a bit hopeless. Where I once was excited about the changes, now I feel like it’s the same bullshit, new name. And, because I’ve been dealing with this for three years, I’m becoming even more jaded about it all.
But, I worry that level of jadedness I’m feeling is going to make me a bad teammate and employee. I already feel alienated in speaking up with criticism multiple times and being met with a “well, we’re a team, so you need to participate in that” response. It makes me worry that I’m actually in the wrong, here, and letting my past negative experiences color what’s currently going on and not giving it enough of a chance.
I’d love your thoughts on this. Am I so jaded that I need to check myself and rework my mindset to be more open minded and less judgmental? Or, is the jadedness justified and I need to stay in the survival mode I’ve been in until I get my degree and bounce? I’d really appreciate your honest opinions, friends!
Patreon | Newsletter | Editorial Services | Twitter | Instagram | Kofi
Michael J. Miller says
This really lands. I’ve struggled with a lot of similar feelings in my own job (it’s almost eerie how much of this post I could’ve written, word for word, myself) for the last four years. For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re jaded at all. I think you’re honest and aware. I think when we begin to “dismiss” or “downgrade” what we see/feel/know to be true within a toxic work environment, it only allows the environment to continue to grow all the more. Now, frustratingly, as you point out above we can speak up and speak out time and again and never be heard. But I still think there is great power – and even, at least for myself, a sense of relief – in NAMING the situation for what it is. If things refuse to change, then we have to navigate what we do. Do we stay? If we do, how do we navigate our relationship to the job so it’s as healthy and rewarding for ourselves as it can be? Because that’s important and it’s a piece we can control. It’s a lot.
If nothing else, I felt very seen in this piece so I wanted to comment and let you know. Thank you for the unexpected and beautiful solidarity I found in reading this. And I hope my short comment can offer some of the same back to you in some small way. I’m sorry you’re struggling. I’m sorry it’s so hard right now. But in it all, you’re magnificent and I really needed your words today :).
Hi Michael!! Ahhh, I’m so sorry it took me so long to respond to this. That is not because this comment didn’t mean the world to me, because it *absolutely* did. I am so sorry this connected so well for you (because I wouldn’t wish this on ANYONE, it’s absolutely horrid to go through).
But, I’m so glad this at least let you feel seen (as your comment made me feel). It meant the world and I am rooting for you SO HARD. <3
Michael J. Miller says
And this means the world to me, too. Thank you so much! This fills my heart and I have so much gratitude for your words and your rooting for me. I’m grateful, too, that we were able to see each other in this way :).
Also, thank you for the apology but please don’t worry about it. My own comment leaving and replying is always staggered and scattered. For me, giving myself permission to be more relaxed with comments meant I could keep writing and OF COURSE I want to do that, So I appreciate people who do the same :).
I am as well!!
And I appreciate that understanding greatly. Most people are that understanding, which is wonderful, but guilt is something I need to go to therapy about, honestly. 😅 But I greatly appreciate it and am wishing you the best!!!
Michael J. Miller says
I’m with you on the guilt! My guilt-holding part and my people-pleasing part get really itchy when I take “too long” to reply…which then keeps me from replying even longer until I get them to unblend a bit.
I wish you all the best, too, Nicole :D. You’re a magnificent human being!
YEP, this tracks!!!
And thank you! 😭 You are, as well!
M.A. Crosbie says
Oh Nicole, I’m so sorry, this is crappy in every which way….And I really don’t think you’re being unfair or jaded here. It sounds like they’re gaslighting you, which I know is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days, but it genuinely sounds like they’re trying to manipulate you/discount you so you just go along with their new (terrible) plan 😡 The fact that they’ve dismissed your valid criticism outright is so unfair, and I think everything you’re feeling is completely justified! And the fact that they’re not acknowledging how hard it is right now with the cost of living, and they’re putting off a salary review is awful 😔 I’m just so sorry!
Thank you so much, Meredith. I’m so sorry for how much you’re going to have to deal with all of my complaining for now until who knows when, because lord knows I will ranting to you a lot about this, I fear. 😅
If there is anything I have learned from reading Ask a Manager, it’s that change can’t happen if leadership is not interested. It sounds like you have raised multiple valid concerns and proactively suggested ways to address them. But you’ve been dismissed. Worse, they’re trying to guilt you by saying you have to put up with being treated poorly because, “It’s for the students.” I don’t think it’s a secret why so many teachers are leaving the profession–it’s this attitude that people in academia/education should be happy to be overworked without fair compensation because it’s “for a good cause.” Other industries don’t work like that, and you would in theory have received your raise once you pointed out that new hires are making more than you/other people in the same role are making more than you are.
Personally, I think nothing at this job will change and you would be well served by sprucing up your resume. But maybe you need to stay in order to receive your degree? Or get a discount on it? In that case, I’d say keep your head down, try not to care about anything because being invested won’t serve you but it will stress you out, and then get out as soon as possible. But I also know getting a new job is easier said than done. I wish you all the best! And, really, once you get out, you’ll hopefully be able to see more clearly that the problem was never you.
Oh Krysta, this comment meant more than I can say! I loved it when I first read it and now to reread to respond (since it took me nine years, I’m so sorry), but I needed to hear all of this. Truly, it’s nice to have that validation amongst the gaslighting and to know I’m not being unreasonable.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Jenna @ Falling Letters says
Aughhh, this is bananas. I can understand your frustration and feelings of being jaded. I have been having some similar experiences, working in public libraries. Krysta’s comment covers my thoughts more eloquently than I could put them! It’s absurd that we’re put in positions where we can’t do our work well, where we’re prevented from making changes to do our work better, and then after all that, made to question whether our feeling of ‘jadedness’ is even legit. I know it’s hard not to care about doing your job well when you’re a decent person… but nowadays I try to just focus on what I /am/ able to do, not what I want to be able to do, and just do that as best as I can. It’s not great advice lol. I hope things improve for you!
Thank you, Jenna. Honestly, it’s just really refreshing to hear that I’m not (seemingly) out of my mind feeling this way and that the gaslighting I’m experiencing at work is truly that. I am so sorry to hear you’ve dealt with similar issues at your own job! I hope things improve for you, too!