4 updates from letter-writers (the personal crisis, the coworker frame-up, and more)

Here are updates from four people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. How do I hold it together at work during a personal crisis?

Firstly, thank you for your kind words and a HUGE thank you to the commentariat here. Hearing that my struggles were serious and I had valid reasons for being overwhelmed did so much to restore my confidence.

I did as you (and several commenters) advised and cut myself some slack. I was honest with everyone about what I could and couldn’t take on (I did utilize FMLA, but sparingly), and my bosses said they supported me.

Here’s the not great part: everything fell apart anyway. No one picked up the slack, in spite of me communicating my team’s needs to those above me and foreseeing things going downhill if someone didn’t help me carry the load. Part of the reason I was so insistent on working myself into the ground to keep everything afloat was that I suspected if I didn’t do it, no one would–and I was correct. As I said in my letter, everyone above me was far away and the attitude was very much, “Well, LW’s team is still producing, it will be fine” when in fact it was breaking down and I was killing myself to maintain my department. I sent out the SOS and no one came, until everything became so bad that they could no longer ignore it.

Then I took the fall for it. I was put on a PIP and had several “talks” where the state of my department was laid in my lap (even though by the time they noticed I was already in the process of rebuilding it). My bosses questioned my commitment to the company and my job. They asked me if I still had what it takes, in a way that very much indicated they did not believe I did. They even went so far as to come from Far Away while I was out and undermine me to my team, claiming they didn’t know any of this was happening (luckily, my team knew better and informed me).

Fortunately, thanks in part to you and in part to being in a better place, I recognized when I was being failed versus being a failure. I was referred to another, higher-level role elsewhere and I am happy to report that I’m now in a place with a much healthier work culture. Thank you and the AAM community again for all of the well-wishes and advice!

2. Can I get relocation assistance as an entry-level candidate with a liberal arts degree? (#2 at the link)

First, thank you to all of you! You were very encouraging and had some great advice. Part of what was driving up the amount of money I mentioned was that (as some commenters guessed) I don’t have a car yet but you all had some great ideas for that.

I had applied to a few local part-time jobs prior to writing to AAM for the rest of the Spring/Summer semester hoping to save some money, and I was hired by my top choice today. It’s a governmental office job, so it aligns well with my education and the skills necessary for the types of work I hope to do upon graduation. Combined with some freelance writing/translating I’ve been doing it should make the move fairly easier, even without relocation assistance.

I think some of the commenters were a bit confused about my comment regarding my mom’s suggestion/preference I intern rather than work so I just wanted to clarify a bit. Since I live in a college town most internships are unpaid, so being able to rely on scholarships and her financial help means I’m graduating with seven internships in my resume, all of which ranged from 5 to 9 months (I often interned at more than one place at a time) from my three years in college (I attended full-time year round, including the summer). I also tried to remain involved on campus as I was told it was necessary for law school (my original plan) so it would’ve been difficult to get a part-time position in addition to that (I know some who manage it, and they’re my heroes!).

I’ve heard back from a Big Tech Company and one of the Big Four for final interviews in a few of my preferred cities, and both companies mentioned (without me asking, and thanks for that tip too!) that they’re willing to offer relocation assistance as they’re targeting new grads. I know nothing is certain until I receive a written offer, though, so I’m definitely making contingency plans following some of Alison’s/commenters’ suggestions just in case!

Like one of the commenters said, I finally feel like I’ve moved on from the “omg the real world is terrifying what will I do” part of graduating and started getting really excited about the opportunities out there. Thank you for all you’ve taught me through the blog, and for being so responsive to my letter!

3. My last day at my last job was awkward and I don’t want to leave things that way (#4 at the link)

I have an update! It took me a few days to go through with it but I did email my boss. He replied really quickly and has obviously been feeling really guilty (like I mentioned in the first letter, he’s not super emotionally in touch but he is genuinely a good person). I had said a lot of what you mentioned; thanking him for what I learned, understanding the decision, etc. and also mentioned that the jobs I’ve been applying for have been in really exciting areas I’d never considered previously. I think it helped him feel better to know that I’m doing okay and I feel a lot better because it was really clear how hard the decision had been for him to make and how much he really hadn’t wanted to let me go. I feel really good about everything, and he did reiterate what he said on my last day about providing me with a good reference. Thank you!

4. My coworker framed me to try to get me in trouble and now wants to meet for coffee

I thought I’d send an update about my post back in 2013(!)

I still work at the same company and moved departments again in the summer of 2014, where I’ve remained ever since. I am now in a much better position, both emotionally and financially. Result! The woman who framed me eventually left the company – this happened in 2015, I think, when her whole team were made redundant.

Quite a few people found out about the situation she’d put me in previously – I decided not to stay quiet about her treatment of me after all, and if anyone asked why we didn’t work together anymore, I just gave them a VERY brief story. Well a few words really – “she is a bully and I couldn’t work with her any longer.” I admit it took courage to be so candid, but the amount of people who’d agree with me and tell me about their encounters with her, or those who’d admitted that they’d heard the same from other people, was incredible.

I’ll add that when I asked for your advice in 2013, I had just turned 23 and only had a couple of years’ work experience. I have grown so much over the years, and I’m proud to say I no longer allow myself to be manipulated by others. I had a few months off work last year due to a long term mental health problem (which I’ve suffered from since my teen years). I returned to work at the start of this year. I used my time off not only to recover but to really consider who I was as a person, and how I let people treat me. I can honestly say that I feel stronger now than ever, and I handle tricky situations with a lot more self-assurance, maturity and assertiveness than I used to. Part of that growth has come naturally with age and experience, but quite a bit of my development has arisen from unfortunate situations such as this one.

So all in all, thanks, Miss Identity Stealer! You indirectly helped me become more confident, composed, and assertive! ;)

{ 31 comments… read them below }

  1. W.R.*

    To #4: Some trauma, we never recover from. I’m speaking generally of humans here, not your coworker. It is wonderful to read that you were able to work through so much. Sometimes the experiences that shape us, do so in unexpected ways. Congratulations on your journey.

    1. The Commoner*

      Thank you for saying this “out loud”. To be honest, it frustrates me when people are dismissive of a past trauma because they think it was “small”, “far in the past”, or you should just “let it go”. While I appreciate people for what they think, why are my thoughts as the victim deemed irrelevant?

      Super excited for LW 4 – That’s amazing and best of luck in the future!

  2. DecorativeCacti*

    I love updates!

    It’s incredible to me that someone could commit fraud like that and remain employed (at a bank!) for two years.

    1. Triplestep*

      Seriously! I expected to read that this person had been fired. At the very least, the former boss owed LW an apology for not taking her claims of bullying more seriously.

    2. Observer*

      It sounds like someone was protecting her. The boss kept on saying that it’s just a personality problem, which might be an understandable mistake, if it were just the OP who had problems with her. But the OP says “the amount of people who’d agree with me and tell me about their encounters with her, or those who’d admitted that they’d heard the same from other people, was incredible.” That says that this woman was a known problem, and the boss was blowing it off.

      1. Julia*

        I had a co-worker like that (she had, apparently, driven others before me to quit) and I think our boss just didn’t feel like it was worth the trouble to discipline or, gasp, fire her. Apparently replacing me was easier than replacing her, even though I did more work and didn’t accidentally unsubscribe us from things because my English was too bad (even though she self-declared that she was fluent)…

  3. Anon Today*

    #1 – Congratulations on the new position! I wish I could say that your updated shocked me, but sadly it really doesn’t. I think there are many organizations out there, that unfortunately simply don’t grasp that when you say you need help, that means you actually need help. You don’t need them to make the right sounds and then expect the work to get done anyway. I would be very curious about what happened to the department after you left. If the higher ups weren’t prepared when you needed help, I can’t imagine how they are coping now that there is no one there to do any of the work.

    1. beanie beans*

      #1, I’m really sorry that you had to go through so much to get to a positive situation – how terrible to not have management support at a time when you need it most. It sounds like you were able to deal with it with a lot more wisdom than most would. I’m glad you’re in a better position now.

    2. Specialk9*

      Yeah really. “So.. how about you come in on the morning of your EMERGENCY surgery and conduct a bunch of interviews. Yeeeeaaaaahhhh.” And then to have the temerity to put them on a PIP after that.

      Yargh. That’s bad.

    3. Specialk9*

      I love this update.

      I would have loved it more with “and then the company went out of business and those managers who didn’t support me and instead put me on a PIP ended up working at fast food, last I heard.”

      But I’m kinda vindictive that way.

    4. Swedish Chef*

      Not to mention, I LOVED your thought about “being failed, rather than being a failure.” I need to be reminded of that exact sentiment right now.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Truly, some of my favorite updates are “I realized my terrible work place wouldn’t change if I was very, very reasonable at it even more harder, so I left.”

  4. M-C*

    #1 It’s interesting that you’d only looked above (and far away) for help/solutions. It might have worked much better if you’d been getting local workers groomed to step in and help you from within. Things don’t fall apart quite so much if workers have autonomy and are allowed to participate in solving problems. Congratulations on getting a better job, but please try to be more mindful of the capacities of all the people around you next time..

    1. VintageLydia*

      In some jobs this just isn’t possible. It seems like she had pretty good rapport with her team but it could very well be something like not authorized to hire enough people for the work, expensive training that requires senior management sign off, out dated IT systems, anything, really.

    2. fposte*

      Agreeing with VL that that’s often not possible, and also not always appropriate to ask junior staff to give up their lives to save an understaffed unit. I think the OP made decent decisions in a crappy situation.

    3. Justme, The OG*

      You can say that since you’re completely removed from the situation, but I trust that LW #1 did they best they could at the time with the resources available to them.

    4. Observer*

      Obviously, the OP did the best she could with the resources she had available or her staff would not have handled the situation with the bosses the way they did.

    5. OP1*

      VL is correct. These were job functions only I (or a peer or higher) could do, in part due to labor restrictions and the nature of my role. I always had an excellent relationship with my team, and believe me if that had been an option I would’ve taken it.

    6. Specialk9*

      M-C this is a really rude and condescending comment. This is a high performer who was single handedly holding things together. I’m pretty sure if just training someone local was an option, they would have figured it out. You’re assuming they are deeply unintelligent and it’s both weird and patronising.

      It’s also strange that you seem to think you’re more of an expert than they are, based on your reading a couple of sentences vs them spending years rocking a position.

      Oh wait. Are you assuming they’re a woman? And oh, you’re a guy, aren’t you?

      Ah, got it.

  5. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

    #4–just want to say that to me it doesn’t matter how long it’s been, I ALWAYS want the updates and hope you as the LWs are doing better! Thanks!

    And it seems like you are, so huzzah!

    1. k.k*

      Oh yes, it’s never too late for updates! It’s always nice to have an ending to these stories, plus it highlights old posts I might have missed.

  6. Thany*

    I love updates!!!

    LW #4- What a beautiful reframe! I love your perspective and optimism. Go you!

  7. knitcrazybooknut*

    #1 – What a bunch of jerkfaces. I’m so sorry. I’m glad you had the perspective and ability to know it was one of those “it’s not me, it’s you” moments.

  8. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    Thank you all for your updates! It’s so heartening to hear that everything is going well for each of you.

  9. Kms1025*

    OP #4: just curious, or maybe I missed it…did you ever meet up with this horrible person for coffee or an apology or any kind of face to face???

  10. Cheeky*

    It’s really sad and disheartening that the solutions to these problems with lack of support from management, from conflict caused by coworkers, etc. ultimately is handled by the LWs leaving their jobs.

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