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Boreout: I’ve become an office zombie

by Athene

It is such a relief to find this website and other people suffering from boreout!

I'm working on a PhD in English Studies and am trapped in a stifling office job as a part-time marketing assistant. I have to commute for about eighty minutes each way. My boss is choleric, territorial and panicky. His temper tantrums are worse than my little nephew’s hissy fits.
I’d had the feeling that the job and I would not suit each other, but beggars can't be choosers.

Despite my misgivings, I was looking forward to learning a new range of skills, but now I have come to the realization that my boss is doing all he can in order to squash me down. Some of my co-workers have noticed my potential but risk running into conflict with my boss, so they prefer to keep quiet.

My boss sits in his office showering the walls with profanity and the occasional kick. I cringe inwardly at my desk and force myself to do what I’ve been doing since I started this job two years ago:
Copy, paste, delete. Copy paste delete. Copy paste delete.

It is only two days a week, but my dissatisfaction is leaking out over the remaining days. I don’t sleep well on Sunday nights. I find it hard to concentrate on my thesis. I’m exhausted on Monday and Tuesday evenings because I sit in my office corner like a zombie. There have been times when my head almost hit the desk because I was about to fall asleep out of sheer boredom.

In addition, I have always struggled with low self-confidence, and this job seems to confirm the statements my pessimistic mind keeps chanting: that I’m useless, worthless, a waste of oxygen and stupid to write a PhD in a worthless Humanities subject. The fact that people are struggling to find a job out there while I have one just makes me feel worse. I enjoy languages, writing, editing, translating and researching - but these “skills” are so ubiquitous they seem useless and non-marketable to me.

I also found out that my predecessor was miserable in her/my job. I’m not surprised. Fortunately, she was able to find something new and escape. I’ve decided to follow her example and look for a full-time job and work on my thesis at night and over the weekends. However, I dread the job application process. I consider myself under-qualified and overqualified at the same time. I can already see the rejection letters piling up, and I’m very hesitant about venturing into self-employment. At the same time, I have to break the vicious cycle by taking steps to leave my deadening office corner. If only I knew how! I don’t want to end up like my co-worker who is undergoing the repercussions of a second burnout (or boreout).

Comments for Boreout: I’ve become an office zombie

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Aug 30, 2015

by: Jackie

First I must say that you are not useless, worthless, a waste of oxygen or stupid. Your writing and the fact that you are working on your PhD tells me otherwise. You sound well education. Although you are dreading looking for another job in the long run would it be the best thing for you?

I see two scenarios.

If you can find some stress relief/ burnout relief with your current position you can finish your thesis and move on to better things. Working only two days a week in theory should allow you the time to do that. The burnout is obviously not allowing you to do so. How about an exercise class after work to relativize you and relief some stress. Maybe a workout in the morning on your day off to jump start feeling productive and get you mind moving. Deep breathing exercises in the morning are also great for this.

If you truly believe you cannot hold out in your current position, look for another job. I understand feeling over and under qualified at the same time. I have been there too. It is frustrating. A full time job that you enjoy may give your confidence the boost it needs to get your thesis complete. A job with a company that you can continue after you receive your PhD would be less stressful then doing the job search twice (just a thought). You mentioned you enjoy languages, writing, editing, translating and researching and you feel these are useless skills. I totally disagree with that. The combination of what you enjoy and your education sounds like a fantastic combination.

You have to do what is right for you. Personally I would start with some stress relieving activities. Go for a massage, have a spa day.. one big boost of stress relief, whatever that means for you personally. Then find a stress relieving routine that will work for you. Even if you look for another job you can do it with less stress...

Jackie from the Stress Relief Workshop Team

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