Ergophobia is the deep and persistent fear of work. The other names for this phobia are Ergasiophobia, or ‘work aversion’. Both the terms are derived from Greek ergon meaning work and phobos which comes from the Greek God of fear. Ergophobia is a part of social anxiety disorder. The individuals suffering from it are afraid to seek employment from fear of being yelled at by superiors, or, in general, due to performance or social anxiety. Ergophobia is thus a complex phobia as it may be part of many different phobias or mental issues. For example, the sufferer might be afraid of performing manual labor due to the fear of getting injured. However, many Ergophobic individuals are also afraid of non-manual labor. In general, most fear of work phobics are afraid of socializing with others.
Naturally, the phobia can be deeply debilitating as the phobic is always dependent on others for food and money and might have strained relations with loved ones. Sometimes s/he is even unable to seek help for the condition owing to limited financial resources.
Causes of fear of work phobia
Fear of work phobia can affect 2 types of people: ones who have held jobs before or those who have never worked before in their life. There are many underlying causes of this phobia:
- Schizophrenia- This is a mental disorder which can lead to fear of social situations.
- Fear of rejection – The phobic might have held a job before but might have been fired abruptly. This leads to his/her fearing rejection that causes permanent Ergophobia.
- Some medical drugs or sleep disorders or stress can lead to Ergophobia. Weariness and fatigue are common side effects of many drugs prescribed for depression. The condition thus becomes a vicious cycle in that; the phobic might have sought help for his phobia only to be prescribed anti-anxiety medicines that indirectly enhance his phobia.
- Traumatic or negative incident- A work related injury or incident, harassment or bullying by co-workers, robbery or hostage situation at the workplace can lead to post traumatic stress disorder. Performance anxiety or fear of failing assigned tasks or the fear of speaking before groups could lead to fear of work phobia.
- Looking for a job often entails giving lengthy interviews and socializing with colleagues, bosses etc. To someone who is already of an anxious mindset or is suffering from nervous disorders of some sort; this can be a stressful situation that can lead to permanent work aversion or phobia.
- Clinical depression or neurological dysfunctions- Clinically depressed individuals are more likely to suffer from deep dread about job hunting. Likewise, people with neurological issues like Obsessive Compulsive Disorders etc are also likely to avoid work.
Symptoms of Ergophobia
Many people experience aversion to getting up daily and going to work but in case of Ergophobia, the individual suffers from a very serious problem in that; simply the thought of work is enough to cause a full blown panic attack. The symptoms of this include:
- Feeling dizzy, nauseated, sweaty and breathless
- Phobics describe feeling “foggy” or detached from reality. S/he is unable to express himself clearly, or cannot hear or interpret what is being said. They feel their memory is drained.
- Often, to observers, the phobic appears normal. However, internally, a plethora of reactions are going on in his mind: these include feeling like running away or hiding, feeling like crying, having thoughts of death etc.
- Apart from avoiding work, phobics might also turn to substance abuse, alcohol or drugs to counter the phobia. These end up making matters worse.
Extreme Ergophobia leads the phobic to stay away from work for many days leading to termination or demotions. This further enhances his fear of work. Additionally, there are other complications like strained relationships, divorce, piling debt, neglect of personal health, hygiene, belongings etc. In many cases, the person might lose his home, or suffer from severe malnourishment etc.
Treatment for overcoming the fear
Seeking assistance from mental health therapists is the best solution for overcoming Ergophobia. This is however, often difficult as the phobic might not have the resources to do so. Psychotherapy, counseling, hypnotherapy and talk therapy with group support are some effective treatment options for this phobia. However, their success rates vary based on the time and length of treatment.
Seeking job counseling can help one find something of one’s interest. The phobic can also try to start his/her business or look for work from home options.
Systematic desensitization or gradual exposure therapy can also work in that; the person could try to work part time and gradually increase the hours until full time is achieved. These are a few ways of overcoming Ergophobia.
I’m 19 and managed to hold a job for about three months, but my disability (hypermobility) got in the way of me doing that. My hypermobility makes it to where it can be hard to walk around a lot, which my job required, and I obtained a foot injury close to a fracture, just not quite, rendering me incapable of working. That was four months ago, and I haven’t had a job since. I’ve been enjoying my time focusing on school, but I go to bed with intense dread every night. I know I need to get another job, but I don’t want to lose my freedom, and I don’t want to risk another injury. Even when I tried to go back to work before I quit, I had a panic attack before, and a panic attack just two hours in, and I left with my tail between my legs. It was a great job, too. Nothing wrong with it. I was simply the problem. I’ve been trying to find some remote jobs, but there isn’t a lot when you have little work experience and are in college.
After reading some of your comments, I couldn’t help but cry. I really feel like there is no reason as to why I feel like this. For most of my life, the most intense feelings I’ve ever had were guilt, shame, and fear. These have taken over my life completely.
As a 24-year-old, some would expect people at this age to have everything going for them. A job, a driver’s license, a place of your own. Knowing that I have none of those makes me feel less of an adult and more of a nobody. I don’t feel grown up at all, and that really hurts. I’m only self-diagnosing myself, but I really do think I have anxiety and depression.
Within my culture, it’s not common to be open about your feelings because when you do tell your family how you feel, they would either tell you to “get over it” or give you a long lecture about how hard it was back in the day for them. (guilt trip alert, lol)
Whenever the word “work” comes out of someone’s mouth, I freeze and clench my jaw. I don’t know how to explain it, but at that moment, I wish I am not around to hear what they are about to say next. I can never look them straight in the eye, and out of nowhere, tears begin to form. It becomes uncontrollable at this time, and they ask, “Why are you crying? I’m only asking you a question.” Then it goes downhill from there. Why do I react this way? Why can’t I control my emotions? Why am I so weak? So useless? So pathetic? These are just a few questions I ask myself.
This fear has been a huge wall that seems impossible for me to climb over. It’s stopped me from working to even stopping me from meeting up with friends.
There is so much more I have in my mind, but I feel like I’ve written an entire book at this stage, haha.
I’m sorry you all have to experience this. I hope you all get through it and stay strong no matter how hard it gets.
Better than me. I’m 40 with no friends. Good luck. May God bless you.
It’s hard for me to apply for work. The interview process and waiting for a result. The waiting builds up so much anxiety that when I do look for work, I doubt my abilities and then cancel applying. It becomes a neverending cycle, and I get stuck. I haven’t worked for over two years, and every day that goes by, I feel so much guilt towards my family because I see how much they work, and I’m just at home. They used to help me look for work, but I never lasted more than three months wherever I went. So they stopped helping. I want to find something on my own, but how can I if I’m so scared to even apply for one? The pressure from family is a lot. I think one day I might even get kicked out because of this, and that scares me more.
For me, it’s the potential loss of freedom I find horrifying. Before parenthood, I had never held a paid job for longer than 8 months because once I’d gotten the hang of my duties, I started to feel trapped, to the point that I’d literally burst into tears on the job. Looking back, this also partly explains my multiple cases of post-natal depression. Now, the kids are all at school and/or old enough to mostly take care of themselves, and I have time and space to put whatever variety I want into my day, within reason. And when I’m doing household jobs, I get to decide for almost all of them when and how they will get done, and if anyone complains, they’re welcome to do it themselves! The thought of giving that up in any way, being told exactly when and how to do things, just for the sake of a (most likely) meager paycheck, makes me shudder.
I’m 29 years old, and the fear of working has been a disabling factor in my life. Just this last month, I quit a job after only going 4 days, 3 of which were orientation. Now I’ve started a new job, and I’m into the 3rd week going on the 4th, and every day I feel so sick to my stomach. It’s a whole new career, and I feel in over my head. I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, and when my coworkers speak to me, I honestly can’t understand what they are saying because my brain is running hundreds of thoughts.
You’d think as the weeks go by, it would get easier. Instead, for me, it’s only becoming harder. Each day I look for a new job, which won’t help because the cycle simply repeats (I get hired, can’t understand the work, feel extreme anxiety, and inevitably quit). This cycle makes me feel like a huge failure in life, I look at everyone else going to work doing their job, and it seems so unbelievable. How are they able to do it? I feel a bit of envy because that will never be me. It’s like walking out into a minefield each time I walk into that office.
The last week was so hard for me I didn’t want to get up and drive. I thought about just walking off during my lunch break and never coming back too. I feel like partially some of my anxiety is due to the lack of guidance and workplace training, but then I think and realize that no matter how much training I get, I think I will never be prepared.
Last week was especially embarrassing as I was talking to a client. My hands began to shake, my throat felt as if it was closing, and I was aimlessly typing incoherent words into my computer to look as though I knew what I was doing. When I play out scenarios in my head, I know what to say, but in the moment, my brain blanks out, and I lose all ability to think.
I’m currently writing this post, dreadfully knowing it’s Sunday, and I will have to go back into that place on Monday. It makes me want to break down and cry. I just want to be a normal member of society, going to work each day and being productive. I feel I must be messed up somewhere, something in my past has caused this. Maybe the constant abuse and fear my father did has made me unfixable. Truthfully reading the other’s stories is comforting to an extent but saddening, knowing that we struggle every day and can’t truly talk about it without seeming as if we are just lazy and don’t want to work.
Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. I’m 22 and feel the same way as you do. My father physically and emotionally abused me since I was a child, and that majorly contributed to my severe anxiety. If I hadn’t gone through what I did, I think I wouldn’t be this scared about working today. I’ve never worked for someone besides my mom, and I’m scared and anxious about job-hunting. I’ve been unemployed for more than a year now, and I’ve developed depression because of this. My depression is also affecting my relationship. I just want to be a normal working adult like everyone else, but my fears of being mistreated and doing a poor performance are getting in the way. I feel like a little girl trapped in a box.
I know it’s difficult, and I wish I could tell you it gets better, but in my case, it’s not gotten better. When I was 22, I also didn’t have a job other than the odd job/babysitter for a family member. My family also constantly talked about me and what I was gonna do with my life, and why am was being so lazy. It only made my depression worse because I was never lazy. I was fearful of working.
Now here I am, on and off jobs, still scared and lost. Miraculous that I haven’t quit this one yet. Idk how much longer I can last.
I truthfully think the abuse I (and you) went through shaped us into fearful adults. My father would strike me whenever I made a mistake or tell me how stupid I was, and now the anxiety and fear from my childhood crosses over into the workplace. I’m terrified to make mistakes and be in an unfamiliar setting. I always feel slower than others and like I make more mistakes than average. If I had the money, I would go to therapy.
I wish I could hug you. I know how hard it is, the feeling of wanting to work but not being able to mentally, and the constant anxiety. Hang in there, know your life has value, and you aren’t alone in this.
Anonymous Ergophobic says
Honestly, I really find this phobia incredibly relatable, like the many other comments here. I am still currently in college (19), where the idea of working any sort of job completely terrifies me, even to the point where I may find a job I feel like I could perform but then “never get around to it” since I am deep down just afraid of what it would entail. Part of this may be performance anxiety since the stress that comes with school work, especially with the expectations (internal and external) of being a top student, makes it much more terrifying when actual income is on the line. The social anxiety, too, probably makes it much worse since the idea of even attending an interview, let alone having to constantly deal with customers, clients, co-workers, and bosses at a company make me extremely anxious. It is difficult as well since it feels like no one understands it, and when they ask me why I haven’t been looking into work or an internship, all I just say is, “I know I should” since I do, but my brain literally just can’t (even typing that part out feels like I am just making excuses, even though deep down I am not). Sometimes I have suicidal thoughts due to this fear (and other problems and worries) since I probably cannot develop a sustainable income source to sustain myself anyways due to it. I know ranting in the comments section of a random website probably doesn’t help anything, but hopefully, I can share some empathy with others who need it.
Sam from Wisconsin says
I know I’m echoing a lot of what has already been said, but it is simultaneously SO relieving and disheartening to read the experiences of so many of us going through the same thing. Relieving because of the assurance that despite what my brain might tell me, I’m not alone in how I feel; disheartening because I know that I hate how I feel and what it’s done to my life and that others have to go through it as well. I’m 26 years old and have struggled with social anxiety, general anxiety, and depression for as long as I can remember. It has held a stranglehold over my life for years, and the fear of failure/performance issues has especially brought my life into a tailspin these past two and half years. I am a very personable, intelligent, and hardworking individual. However, when I got to college, I could tell that things would not be easy for me. I graduated in 4 years but ended up with a communications major that I had no idea what to do with, and upon graduating had no career path or even a clue of what I wanted to do. I’ve worked four different jobs in the four years since graduating and have ruined my finances, relationship, and essentially my life due to this irrational fear. I quit my first job to make more money as a claims handler for United Healthcare which required being on the phone with angry customers for eight consecutive hours. The stress of being recorded and dealing with strangers’ issues caused me so much dread that I ended up calling in one day and never came back. I was lucky enough to pick up a job a few weeks later, but this anxiety and fear caused me to avoid dealing with any of the tasks I needed to. I ended up quitting in October of 2021 but surely would have been fired in a few short weeks if I had not. Then, I was unemployed until March 2022, draining my bank account and leading me to take out a payday loan which I am still paying off to this day (I know it was stupid, but the absurdly high-interest rates made much more sense in my brain than asking a family member for help lol). I was recently fired from that position in December 2022 after this fear put me so behind that there was no coming back. I had multiple meetings with my supervisor as he was trying to figure out what was going on, and I could not find a way to explain to him why I was so unproductive and what I was doing with my time. Any time I tried would end with him assigning me a “Managing Anxiety” online learning module. I haven’t even applied for a job since, and my bank account is again dwindling. I’m sorry for throwing a pity party with this long-winded comment, but after seeing so many people going through the same thing, I needed to get it off my chest. While it is relieving to know others experience this as well, I honestly feel like there is no end in sight, and I will be stuck in this cycle of fear, dread, shame, paralysis, etc., forever. I want to go back to therapy, but that is not feasible for me right now as I don’t have insurance. I’d give anything to get rid of these feelings, but I know I have to put the work in to do that. I’m lost, afraid, and unsure of what my next steps are, but I’m holding out hope that there is an end in sight and this won’t follow me forever. It won’t follow you forever, either. I’ll need to tell myself this as well, but remember that you’re not alone, and most importantly, your value as a person isn’t decided by this fear or what you do as a career. We are all capable of success, so here’s to hoping for the best for everyone in the comments.
I am in the exact same boat as you like exactly. I have quit multiple jobs this past year and been let go from a couple. I have had interviews, and instead of getting better with the interviews, I just feel as though I’m getting worse. It sucks I have applied for disability. I would try that if I were you and then call the SSA office and then get on Medicaid so that you can go back to therapy, and you might need medication. I take medication, but I lost my mom to a heart attack last March, so with her death anniversary coming up, I’m struggling so badly, like I have an interview today that pays 60,000 – 80,000, but I didn’t wake up in time to take my son to daycare. They have a cut-off time for the morning, and my interview is at 2. I would need to somehow get my husband to watch our son, who’s 4, and that’s by a long shot cause my husband and I don’t have any help and he works, but his work can be flexible most of the time, just depending on his schedule. I would need to also pick out an outfit and then go get my resume printed off at FedEx, and I don’t even think that I’m qualified for this job, and the guy even said that he is interviewing a lot of people. I dunno what I’m going to do, so I’m currently writing this as I’m lying in bed next to my four-year-old son while he is watching cartoons, lol. Let’s see, I’ve got about three and a half hours to figure out what I am going to do if I’ll somehow get my husband to watch our son while he’s doing work on houses for an hour while I go. If his schedule will let him be able to even do that today and then I still would have to find an outfit and also go by FedEx to get my resume printed off. I have another interview tomorrow and the next day, which I’m not really nervous about, at least not yet. Maybe it’s cause I am qualified to actually see myself do the job, and one of them is actually hybrid remote, and it’s near my home and pays well, and has great benefits. It’s in what I have been doing for ten years, so basically, either a miracle will happen today, or I’ll reschedule the interview for this Friday if the job interviewer is able to even do that. Then I need to come up with an excuse, and I can easily come up with something to reschedule, but I dunno. I totally get it, lol. It’s only just a little bit of time that I have left to figure out what I’m going to do about this interview for today. Basically, I’m not prepared at all, and I can’t stand interviews anymore.
First of all, I want to say I’m glad I’m not alone in this, but it’s also a bittersweet feeling.
I’m 24 and have been jobless for more than a year after graduating from an engineering school for Computer Science. After getting refused a master’s degree in another school that I was very excited about (only one refused out of all applicants), I lost all dreams and motivation to pursue anything.
I found a job that I only lasted a day in because I got so much anxiety and a major panic attack from the manager immediately telling me I needed to work and deliver.
After that, I had interviews that I found myself sabotaging on purpose, so I wouldn’t go with my mom pressuring me to get anything and accept everything because that’s life.
I’ve been staying home, not even trying to improve myself in any way, with a growing gap in my resume. At the mention of work, I get scared, but I really do understand that I need to work, and frequently I tell myself it would be really nice to find a small day-to-day job, and I do not want big money just enough to live by.
This past week I got a call from a call center, and I got so excited at first but then immediately started thinking, what if I’m not good enough? I’m an introvert, I can’t talk to people, and it’s been hard to sleep and chase these thoughts away. I feel my mom losing patience with me, and the guilt only adds to the anxiety.
I keep telling myself I want to work, but the thought of having to wake up early, not having lunch at home, having boss supervision, working for the rest of my life, and having no time to do what I enjoy kills me inside.
My old friends/classmates have great careers already, and I think I’m not cut out for this. But I don’t have the freedom of choice.
It’s very sad.
Josh Greene says
I feel this in my soul. I’m about to be homeless because I can’t figure out how to get my brain to cooperate and not make me freak out when I have any thoughts about a job.
Joseph M. says
This is basically 99% me. I’m about to be 23 and haven’t worked since, I think, 2019 or early 2020. During that time, I haven’t even tried to learn any new skills or better. I have been volunteering, but anything that involves getting paid scares the heck out of me. This whole article and your comment resonates with me. It has given me almost a clarity of what I am up against. I’m glad to know I am not alone.
I never thought the time was going to pass, but my fear was not.
My last job broke me down, and I have been sabotaging my own interviews and having anxiety attacks for seven months after I quit my last job.
I am an Architect and artist, and I can’t believe I am so scared. I have never been like this.
I registered in a class for interior design, and my progress is making me gain my self-confidence back little by little.
Therapy did not help, but writing and painting are helping a bit.
I am determined to get over this because there is a world out there full of new experiences that I want to explore,
Today I printed my resume, and I am going to tune it up and send it out. Nobody is perfect! And I will not let that toxic crazy job I had for seven years ruin my life!
Today I heard somebody say we are all good, and yes, I think we are.
I didn’t know that what I am going through had a name, but I can tell you guys to know that knowing I’m not the only one feeling like this has made me realize that acknowledging I have a problem is the first step and the support and empathy is a big help!
Let’s get out there and rock it!
I believe there are several factors that have caused my job fear issues. I was bullied and also abused physically by my father. I dread the thought of work. Even thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach, and I have an interview less than a week away. Just thinking about the unknown makes my stomach churn. To top it all off, I have no direction in life. I don’t know what I’m doing or what job I can even do. It’s all so frustrating and has my heart pounding. I wish I could exist without the need to work. I’m 29 years old, and reading through others’ comments brings me solidarity but also sadness. Many of you are older than I am and are still feeling the same pressures, I hoped one day it would get better, but I don’t see anything better on the horizon. If there was some magical medicine to take away my fear of going to work, I would take it in a heartbeat.
When others talk to me, they always put me down. The go-to is you don’t work because you are lazy. I’m not lazy, I’m afraid! It’s so hard to speak to anyone about this, the fear is crippling, but I’ve decided that I can’t live the way I’ve been living. I’m hitting the 30 milestone soon, and I want to change. All I can say is have hope, everyone. Idk if I will get through this. Who knows, maybe I can come back and write a success story on how I overcame my work fear (if only). Just know we are not alone. Maybe we’re alone, separated by miles, but we are still connected on this earth. I would love to speak with others like myself. Perhaps on discord or some other platform. I think talking would help.
Teetotaling Ergophobe says
This brought me to tears, as did the previous responders’ messages. I’m 41, having quit my last job eight months ago after taking a stress-related leave of absence due to an abusive, gaslighting manager. I have been a professional administrator for over 20 years, have dual bachelor’s degrees (with honors), put myself through school nights while working 50+ hours a week for a non-profit, volunteer teaching on weekends, and chairing the board of a PAC (simultaneously). I’ve had a lot of bad managers or manager-owners in the past, but my last two “bad management” experiences sent me into major anxiety attacks. Anxiety (and panic) attacks are like heart attacks or kidney stones – for everyone you have, you’re exponentially more likely to have another. I always had a higher level of anxiety than most (according to my psychiatrist, this was probably due to undiagnosed learning disorders until I was 36). Still, I wasn’t diagnosed and treated until a couple of years ago, after experiencing three debilitating attacks that began with the abusive manager two back. Between her and the most recent toxic manager, I had four supervisors and managers who I respected and worked great with. But after this last one gaslit me for six months, I have full-blown PTSD. I’ve never felt so insecure about the very idea of working for someone else. I’ve started running some online shops, but it’s not paying the bills, and I’m running out of savings. I’m fortunate that my friends and family have been supporting me throughout this journey, but I can see that they don’t understand how someone as “smart,” “capable”, and “strong” as me (as any of us here!) can be so traumatized by past experience as to paralyze me from even submitting resumes. Before I quit my job, I applied for jobs and did interviews for about four months. Granted, we were still in the grips of the pandemic, but I knew lots of people who were successfully shifting to new companies. However, I had to leave my job after I broke down crying at my desk, and the union and HR resources weren’t moving fast enough to help mitigate the situation. My doctor asked me to take a break from applying to jobs, and I haven’t been able to go back since (that certainly wasn’t his intention). Now, I fear that I won’t have stability or the income I need to prepare for retirement (i.e., to pay for healthcare) – which feels like it’s nipping at my heels – if I don’t work for another large business. Frankly, before I quit, I was at the point where I was drinking heavily after work three days a week, and now I’m back to my teetotaler ways and unemployed. I know the former situation would have killed me sooner, but this latter situation is just as debilitating. Still, I hold out hope that we can all use the suggestions in this article to find our way out of the darkness of our fear and into the light of self-confidence and self-sustainability.
Hi Lost in Life,
I totally feel for you, I have just begun a new job, and I’m just afraid of doing anything. I would love to talk to someone about it.
These comments are so heartbreaking. Every comment I’ve read was well-written. You all sound like intelligent, capable people who have simply been broken down by fear, previous bad experiences/trauma, and low self-esteem. I relate to you all. I wish we could collectively get past our fear and live the anxiety-free, productive, HAPPY lives that we deserve to live.
Will everyone come back and have a look?
I found that it may also be the fear of being rejected by others. For example, the shadow of being bullied in childhood or emotional abuse from parents.
Tim buktu says
It’s hard to explain how I’ve felt over the last x years. This finally describes it. I’m a ready worker. Smart as well. I took ap classes in high school. I went to an engineering college for a few years. I even passed accounting and calculus, and programming too. But what the hell gives? I can’t do it. I can’t make myself get a salary or do something to make money. I don’t want to bother other people who need the money more than me. I don’t see many opportunities to harness and make use of my skills that aren’t already being done at a high level. The internet is saturated. I rarely get along well with people who understand ‘smart people stuff’ because I’ve always been a sports player, yet everyone else labels me as the ‘smart kid.’ Being myself always made my peers envy me. I can and will sit here at my parents and do whatever, learn more, become more equipped for work, and can’t do it because of this. The only thing I’ve ever been able to do for money is to go to thrift stores and sell the stuff on eBay for cash. I’m a loser. Don’t be like me, kids. I should go be a court jester in the Vatican.
I have had all of these feelings with many of the most severe symptoms for the past 2 years after working for horrible bosses at 3 separate jobs back to back. I am terrified of doing it all again. My health is gone, I was evicted last year, and I am stuck. I knew I was/am traumatized, but I didn’t know there was a term for it. I have dabbled in eBay over the years, and I’m currently doing food deliveries, but my engine just went out, and now it’s twice as bad. Even still, I just cannot go through the hell of working under yet another asshole again. I have alienated everyone in my life, I’m isolated, and life sucks. Those closest to me just look down on me and treat me like a loser for not “doing what needs to be done,” aka getting a 9-5 job. I tell them I’m traumatized, and I can’t do it, and it’s almost laughable to them. How people can just ignore how clearly traumatized I am and expect me to instantaneously recover from this mental illness is beyond me. I’m smart, creative, relatively young still (35), and capable of so much, but I just don’t have any opportunities because I can’t take care of my financial needs. That sentence made more sense in my head. Anyway, good to know I’m not alone. I’m sorry for how much I KNOW you’re suffering.
You must be in pain, you are not alone.
I am going through the exact same thing. 20 years at one job, and my boss was such a bully, I finally left. I believe I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It took me four months to find a new job, and then I was mistreated by that boss. They ended up firing me through no fault of my own. I am currently unemployed. I am 54 years old, and I am having a difficult time being hired. I definitely have ergophobia. I know I have PTSD from my job of 20 years and the hostile work environment I endured. I was like a pin cushion. I worked my butt off and worked overtime, went above and beyond, and they took advantage of me. I have so much anxiety and fear that I feel almost paralyzed, and I’d rather die than go back to work. The only thing I can do is pray.
I get it. I was bullied and emotionally beat up at a job that I had for 15 years when a new supervisor came in. Now I suffer from depression, anxiety, ptsd and have panic attacks when looking or thinking about going back to work.
I am so grateful that I found all of these comments and people. I thought I was the only one dealing with this. I am currently 19. I graduated high school a year ago, and I still haven’t been able to get a job. I knew since I graduated that something wasn’t right with me because some of my friends were already working before we even graduated, and some of my parent’s friends had already started to say things about my situation, calling me lazy even though I cook, clean, and do everything and anything inside the house. But getting a job terrifies me. I no longer have any friends, but I’m actually ok with that because they weren’t such good friends. I’m excited and scared because I start college next week, but I’ve been having both panic attacks and anxiety attacks. I can’t really tell anyone that I have been having them because, in my family, those sorts of things don’t “exist,” and if I tell my mother, she will judge me. I just don’t get it. I have done everything by myself and have had no issues. I’ve gone to doctor appointments, and I have gone to dental appointments too. Basically, everything since it was legal for me to go by myself, but getting a job just sounds horrific to me, and I hate myself because I don’t want to rely on my parents anymore, and I’m sure they want me to stop relying on them. Also, their excuse for them is that they came into this country so I could make something of myself and get a really high-paying job. But how can I turn around and tell them that I’m too scared to even apply for a basic job? I just feel like there’s too much pressure on me, and there’s no way I can get any off. Sometimes I get really negative, and I just want to die, but I really don’t want to go down that road because I feel like if I start going down it, I’ll lose myself. I just really feel like I’m stuck and that I can’t feel some of my feelings. But anyways, I want to thank you all so much. I would have never guessed that what I had was a phobia.
You aren’t alone. I’m 26 and an excellent computer programmer, but I have a severe fear of failure, rejection, and performance issues.
Recently I tried to break the cycle. I went for two jobs. The first was at a school where I changed the date of my latest work experience to seem more attractive. This led me to use this as a reason to be afraid and cancel going to the interview. Then next, I made myself go to an interview and smashed the programming questions. They wanted to hire me 50k p.a. for a first programming job which is not too good, but enough to make a big change. But I am scared of performing and not being good enough and feeling like a piece of poop. So I told them I got another job. They sent me an email saying they want me to work for them, and if it doesn’t work out, get back to them. I went through an audit of their code base and sent it back to them. They will be impressed, I’m sure, but the reality is this phobia is debilitating, and the sad truth is I can’t get out of my own way no matter how many cycles of depression I go through for never making a change.
I wish I was talented like you. Here in London, there are so many IT jobs available to work remotely, but I spent all my life working with kids in schools, and now because of depression and anxiety, I can’t go back to it or anything for that matter. I am so fearful I go blank and cannot concentrate. The whole time I am just thinking about how better everyone else is. One negative comment sends me off down a spiral, and I want to run away and die. Try remote work with your talent. You might be able to do it.
Zoria Martin says
You’re not alone. I got through the same thing too. I am afraid of getting a job and I wish I can be normal and not scared. It’s hard, really hard.
N arcg says
I wonder if I have this? Mine isn’t social anxiety or fear of not being good enough; it is like a fear of working and time not being my own and scared of having to work for the next 40 years to retirement. I’ve had over a year off due to anxiety and panic attacks and recently just started a new job, and I cry all day, every day. The thought of working petrifies me, and the only way out I can see is not working, but of course, I cannot afford this.
I feel the exact same way! I fear going to bed at night because I know the morning will come sooner, and I have to work. I will lose sleep at night as I wake up and stare at the clock every hour, thinking of the work day ahead. I get super frustrated at work and want to quit. I feel like crying too. Every job I have I feel I cant do cause its too overwhelming. I also can’t afford not to work, and I fear I cannot retire and that I will work till I die. It’s depressing, and I can’t do a thing about it! I’ll be honest with you. I actually had kids just so I didn’t have to work. I know that’s horrible, but it’s true! I often wondered if there was anyone else out there like me or if I was just some lazy jerk, but I think it goes beyond laziness.
This is exactly how I feel! I couldn’t have said it better!
I’m 53. My room and car are messy. I fear cleaning because when growing up, I was constantly abused for doing not so fast, not perfect. I can’t associate it with something positive. I have no fear of my full-time Doordash delivery driving job.
The same problem. I graduated in 2016, and I worked for some time in between. I was so scared that I even cried. I still live with my parents. The only thing that makes me feel better is that I found this place. I’m 26 years old, and I don’t know what to do in the future.
I feel the exact same way. It’s dreadful and paralyzing. The fact that there is no alternative to working makes it worse for me.
In your childhood, did your parents often make you feel scared? Insecurity?
My parents did for sure.
Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I came across this. I have struggled for years to understand what my problem is. I’ve had periods of working and being reliable in the past, but I can never seem to stick with anything. I have always had terrible social anxiety, making it very hard for me to make any friends, much less a girlfriend. However, I did find a serious girlfriend, and we had two children. She was terribly abusive to all of us (I settled), and after putting up with it for years, I finally left and got custody of my kids. I managed to work full time for a few years, although it was a pizza delivery job, which isn’t really a real job because you don’t need to have constantly face-to-face interaction with people. It’s kind of an escape for people like me. You can “work” and make money, but there’s no opportunity for advancement, no future – that is why I say it is not a “real” job. I decided to move on from that as things changed and the money was not so stable anymore. Since then, the best I have been able to do is work a job for about six months (retail, etc.), and then I just get so exhausted from dealing with the daily anxiety and panic I feel from having to interact with people all day. I quit and feel so relieved. Then within a day or two, I feel like a loser, and I am on the computer applying for jobs. It has reached the point where I am very good at getting jobs. When it comes time to orientation or my first day, sometimes, I can complete the orientation first, and I just panic. I get all sweaty and can’t stop sweating. Who wants to show up for their first day dripping sweat for no reason? So I don’t go in. I’ve tried getting stoned, even having a beer before I go – doesn’t help. I continue to sweat and panic until the time passes when I’m supposed to be there, and then I start to calm down. I’ve been basically relying on my parents to give me money for the last few years. I feel terrible even though they can afford it. Yet I am constantly applying for and getting jobs! Every time I get a job, I feel great about myself. I’m all gung-ho excitedly talking about how this job is perfect for me, etc., to my family. Even the night before I start, I am ready to go. Then I get up and feel panicky. As the time gets closer, I start sweating badly, and I know then I’m not going. It happened again today. People that see me think that I have everything all together. I’m a good-looking guy (I’ve been told), I’m in good shape, I’m educated and intelligent – people would probably be shocked to read this because I always have money and seem to have it together. Every time I ask my parents for $, I feel worse about myself. I’ve tried going to doctors, and they always try to prescribe SSRI medication, which I have tried many times. These drugs make me simply not care. I just want to sleep all the time. I once didn’t pay the rent simply because I didn’t want to get up and do it (I had the $!) and had to go to court. That was the last time I took an SSRI. At this point, I really am at a loss as far as what to do. I know there are medications they could prescribe me that may help with these anxiety attacks I have when it’s time to go to work, but I don’t think any doctor will do that because so many people abuse them. Glad I found this page to learn that I am not alone.
I, too, just came across this, and I did not know this was a thing. I had a fear of going into high school. I went to a catholic high school because the school was three times smaller than the regular public high school, even though I’m not catholic or believe in the catholic faith. I’ve never worked, and I didn’t get a high school diploma. My life has been very traumatic, and I’m only 34 years old. Leaving my apartment is a challenge to the point I have to really prepare to walk to my grocery store to get food or toiletries. I have OCD, PTSD, and addiction issues and most days feel so hopeless I don’t know what the point of it all is anymore.
After having read the comments here, I’ve noticed that a lot of people think/are not good enough at their work. My tip to you guys is to first think about whether you really ARE bad at the thing you’re doing. Are you actually bad, or are they searching for geniuses? Is your efficiency getting hindered by something, like social anxiety? Or are you indeed bad at the thing you’re doing? If you actually are, the only thing I can say is: Ignore the opinion of others. Especially if you already got fired multiple times, and instead of thinking about how long you are going to keep that job, think about improving yourself. If you aren’t good enough, BECOME good enough. Now, if your problem is more about people in general, like social anxiety, then I don’t really have anything good to say. But I will say how I was coping when I had extreme depression and social anxiety. Whenever I got into a situation that almost broke me, I would tell myself, “This isn’t real. Nothing is going to happen if you fail anyways”. Now, while it did pull me through, it had some pretty bad consequences. I became schizophrenic, and now I almost lose my purpose in life because of that. But well, things are getting better at the very least.
Wow. I was just praying and whining to God about why am I feeling like this, and 5mins later, I decided to google “why am I afraid to work and always worried that I cannot do it right.” It actually feels a little comforting, finally knowing that this feeling has a name, and even more so that I’m not the only one struggling. I was an achiever back in my early years from grade school until some years during college. Although I was on the dean’s list for some semesters, I still consider myself struggling based on my final year grades. I graduated college in 2019, applied for a job in 2021, and only lasted for four days. Besides my anxiety about socializing with co-workers, I felt so afraid of not performing well. I left the job and never felt so relieved, safe, and sound. In November 2021, I was hired for a remote job with great pay. I only lasted for one day. A few hours after that shift, I sent an email informing my employer that I could not continue with the job stating health issues as my reason because it was a graveyard shift. But in my heart, I know that wasn’t the reason. After being on video meeting with him for like the whole shift, I felt so consumed and thought that I was not actually good/smart enough to do the job for him. I was so scared I’d fail to meet his expectations. I felt the ultimate relief again after sending my resignation. Then I started to feel so depressed and worthless not having my own money. I started to look for another one. In Dec 2021, I was hired again for a remote job with great pay. And it was what I really wished for, a day shift one. This time, I did not do the dumping. Just minutes before I needed to start off for my second day, I received an email from my employer informing me that it didn’t work out. I actually would like to bawl my eyes out for it, but just kind of smiled because I knew somehow that it would happen, that I was right all along, I really could not do the job right. Then I was back to being silently stressed out of my whole situation. I told myself maybe it’s not for me. Maybe I should just start a small business, but how will I fund it? I slowly start to hate myself in the worst way. (I almost forgot to mention that I aced and got hired for every remote job I got interviewed for. I am always so confident when it comes to interviews.) I started to look for remote jobs again in the latter part of January, and then I got interviewed successively for two different jobs in February. But this time around, I lost my confidence in interviews. It was like I felt I should be more honest, and being honest for me was to drag myself down, telling them, “I struggle with those qualifications you posted, but I am doing my best to help myself.” That wasn’t helpful at all. I didn’t receive a call; thus, I got so upset and blamed myself for not doing well in the previous job that actually favored my day shift checkbox. Then just later that day, I unexpectedly received an email for an interview for a job I applied for like two weeks ago. It was the greatest twist I’ve ever received. This time, I told myself that I would not discount myself and not drag myself so deep down. Thus, I really aced the interview again. Four days later, I was hired, and I knew right after the interview that I would really be hired. This time, I did prepare my mindset concerning my fear of work. I thought of the stressful days I’ve had while being unemployed and moneyless, so I could be inspired and forget any fear I had. I really thought it would work out this time, the employer was so kind and accommodating, and they really trained and taught me and even spoon-fed me through it. I survived the first two days and thought it would go well, but I was wrong. I got so consumed by the constant video meeting with him/them and was so worried about what they thought of me and my performance so far with the training they provided. The thought consumed me that they might be thinking they made the wrong decision of choosing and hiring me among others, and also I thought I wasn’t doing good enough, and that they were too kind and good while I’m a low-performing employee. Just the thought of starting the shift again and facing them in the video meet for most of the 8-hr shift caused SO much anxiety. So I didn’t show up on the third day and felt relieved again after sending my resignation. Just days after that, I instantly regretted my decision. I forgot the mindset I was supposed to follow. Now, I’m on the scene of job hunting again. I’m feeling so frustrated not getting any emails from my applications yet. I hate myself for being like this, and I just want to be like everybody else who does things normally, just as normal people do. I want to do things in the real world and in real life. I want to get out of this box I’m locking myself in. I want to be brave and normal like other people. I want to progress. I want not to be dependent anymore. I’m so worried for my future that I might not have the life I dreamed of. I just want to be like normal people. I want to hurt myself for being like this, and at the same time, I want to heal from this. I want to be healed and treated, but I don’t know how. I’d like to go to therapy, but I don’t have the financial means to do so.
I’m genuinely blown away reading this because you might as well be me! Thank you so much for writing your comment because I feel so relieved to know I’m not the only one. My story is almost the exact same. I’m trying to get help now, but I hope you find help yourself soon. This isn’t an easy thing to explain to others.
It’s really comforting to know that you are not the only one feeling and going through the same thing. And, you are exactly right. It isn’t easy to explain to others, and I feel like if people get to know how I feel, it would be so humiliating that they might just judge me as dumb or lazy. That is why I’m so glad to have known that other people also have the same experience. I’m praying we’d all get through this the soonest.
I actually tried searching thru Facebook for any possible community for people with the same fear. But, my heart was broken, for I have found some comments saying it’s just laziness. It should not be associated with being lazy at all. I myself always have the drive to spend long hours facing my computer and working, but this is something inside me and in my head telling me that my co-worker or boss might have realized they made the wrong decision of hiring me and that I may be doing things wrong. I really hope I’ll heal from all this.
Fed up :( says
This is exactly why I came here. I was praying and complaining about a wonderful new job that I just got and the fear I had about starting it. The fear that it would consume my life, my identity, my time. Most times, I think I am just lazy and don’t want to work. It’s more than that. There are many tasks that I don’t like, but I just do them. But for some reason, a job fills me with panic and dread. I also thought I was just a loser who couldn’t keep a job. I’ve been called spoilt. All the above may be true, but I am scared that I won’t break this cycle of running away from jobs. I am just happy today that I was able to read that others felt the same way, and this condition has a name.
I seriously thought I was the only one that felt this way. I read the post thinking, “mm, I think I have that,” to reading your comment and thinking, “WOW, I do have this.”
That constant fear of not being good enough runs through me every day before work. I do have a job, but I am constantly avoiding going because of fear.
Thank you for sharing JM. You’re not alone.
I really connected with everything you said. A couple of years ago, after I graduated, I got a job at dumpsters, and they trained me. The people were super nice, but I was clueless about what I was doing. I stood there like a lost puppy, not knowing what to do. At the end of the shift, something didn’t seem entirely right, and I left that evening, and they called me and told me that I didn’t need to come in again. I didn’t let it get it me, so I applied to a grocery store to be a cashier, and again not knowing what I was doing, I got an interview and got the job, and I got trained. During my training, I got pulled back into an office. The boss did not explain what I really did wrong and fired me. I was devastated, and so many thoughts came to my head. Was I not doing something right? Fast forward. I go to college to be a beautician. That went fantastic till I got on phase 2 of my experience in cosmetology. I had to deal with people and the aspect of people, expecting me to know off the dot what I was doing while I was still learning. I had an anxiety attack while doing a women’s hair. She kept yelling at me, saying I wasn’t doing it right. I fell apart, stopped what I was doing, and took a step back. The teacher had fled over to me, and I couldn’t even continue. Everything was caving in. I got picked on badly at school, which made me quit beauty school and never look back. I have been married for seven years and haven’t worked at all while being with my husband. My husband has epilepsy and is going to need help with bills. Again the same mindset comes back to fear of working, fear I’m not doing something correctly, fear of my coworkers not liking me, fear of people talking behind my back—just so many things, and IDK why I think this negatively about myself. I know I am capable. Why can’t I have the confidence and be like everyone else? Normal and not scared to work and take a leap of faith. I’m scared nobody will hire me because I barely have any experience.
Thank you so much for writing this. I’m 18, and I am right now about to quit a job I didn’t even start working on yet. I already know I’m going through with it. I’m sitting here wishing I hadn’t pestered the place after they didn’t message me back. I wish the manager had told me I wasn’t the right fit for the job. I don’t want to do it, and I know I can’t do it. I can’t retain information, and I hate being around people and talking to customers. My mom doesn’t understand, and she’s at the point where she’s trying to force me to work. I don’t want to. You could offer me 1 million dollars, and I still would refuse. I already know I’m destined to live on the street and die young. I’ve come to terms with it. I hate myself for getting so excited about something and immediately becoming terrified and leaving. Nobody understands, and it’s so frustrating.
I’m a disappointment and a failure. I already dropped out of school on top of all that. I wish there were jobs available just for those of us who can’t handle the “normal” jobs that others can do so easily.
I can’t sleep when I set alarms due to the immense anxiety and fear that got created around them when I had to go to school every day. The only way I’m able to sleep is when I turn them off.
I feel the same way. I’m so sorry. I really do hope you find ways to cope. And that I do too.
I feel just like this. I have quit so many jobs within the first day or two or week due to anxiety.
Reading this article makes me wonder if my fear of getting a job stems from when I was younger when my narcissistic father would use “or you will have to get a job” as a threat to get me to do something he wanted.
I’m 38, live with my mom and my autistic brother, and both of us get paid to watch him through IHSS. I think I have PTSD from the crap my dad put us through.
My heart goes out to you. I’ve had one narcissistic parent, but both were physically and emotionally abusive.
Their constant belittering and perfectionism about the tiniest things made me highly anxious. I could never do anything right even though I did more chores than my friends and was a straight-A student and somewhat pretty. It was never ever enough.
Now I’m applying for jobs after finishing college. I do have work experience (mostly bad). But I’m hoping after years of depression and anxiety that I and all of us can find work that feels good to us, like a second home. If I don’t feel any better, I will go to therapy again.
It has everything to do with being hard on ourselves, not laziness.
Wishing you all the best.
I first wrote on here back in 2017. I’m back again. I wish I could say that things got better for me, but they didn’t. I eventually got a job that I was able to keep for a little over a year and a half. And that was only because my boss was a family friend. I think that if that weren’t the case, I most likely would’ve been fired. I’m pretty sure I’ve walked in on her talking about her frustrations about me with another colleague. There were at least 1-2 meetings with me about my performance. It only reinforced my insecurity of feeling incompetent. I was functioning, but I felt so depressed. Every day I was there was miserable. I would come home and just lay in my bed. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else. I had finally worked up enough courage to quit in June of 2020. But everything shut down in March, and I haven’t been back since.
Now that it’s almost been two years, I feel I really need to get a job. But every time I search for a job, I always feel discouraged and talk myself out of it. I truly want to make my own money, but I always feel so anxious.
When I originally posted in 2017, I thought I had Social Anxiety and ergophobia. But now I think I actually might have AVPD and ergophobia. I also get nervous at the thought of an online job where I wouldn’t necessarily be around people. And while a lot of my avoidance is dealing with a fear of work, it also shows up in other areas of my life (that I talked about in my original post).
I don’t know. Does anyone else here who has ergophobia also struggle with AVPD? I really hate being like this. I don’t know what to do or how to treat this.
I’m 32, and I think I have this. I never had a “real” job. I only worked for two years with a friend of a friend and then for three years with my brother at his shop. The shop is failing, and I may find myself looking for a job soon. The thought of doing that is paralyzing. I still live with my parents and said brother. I only moved out for three years to live with my ex GF, but a few months ago, I found out she cheated on me, and I had to move back.
I’ve been depressed for the last two weeks, can’t sleep, only stay in my room browsing possible jobs which I can feel ok at, but when I research them, and it turns out to be harder than I expected, I immediately lose any will. My CV looks like sh*t because I had a two-year gap after my studies, which also wrecked my first serious relationship.
I only went to one job interview in my life a few years ago, and the boss of the company called me a slacker during it, and it froze me because I couldn’t disagree with him or defend myself. I feel worthless, lazy, and like a child that can’t provide for himself. My friends have careers, and I can’t do anything. I lose will immediately when some challenge arises, I cave in under stress, and I’m slow, unorganized, and incompetent. When I read about soft skills required for the job (ability to prioritize tasks, coping under pressure, or deal with deadlines), they all seem to be written specifically to turn people like me away.
I think this fear comes from my overprotective mother, that did everything for me as her way of compensating for being an absent alcoholic mother for the first few years of my life.
My dream is to have a stable desk job that pays enough to rent a tiny flat for myself, yet that seems like an impossible task. I’m weak and can’t even do physical work. If I don’t find a job, I’m not sure I will be capable of living like this. I feel absolutely pathetic and worthless to the point of not wanting other people to see me.
I can relate to you.
For the past few years, I have been on disability for work, thinking it was because of Bi-Polar disorder. I also had a substance abuse problem. I have been clean and sober for three years now, and my life is back on track. I have an IT background, and I am a very smart person. I thought I would try to see how I would do working part-time, but I am failing at it. I found a great contract at a local facility that needs helpdesk support. The money is the best I have ever done, but I still can’t get out of my own way. I feel like I did when this first started back in 2006. This isn’t my first time sober, and the last time I put some time under my belt, I had a great job which I loved. I met my ex-wife on the job. I was a Clin-Tech at a hospital and an X-Ray Tech Assistant. I never had these issues until I had a major relapse, and after I got sober again, my ex noticed that I might have some mental issues. I went and sought help, and I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder. I am sweating right now as I am typing this. After reading this, I believe this is something I may have. I see my therapist today, and I am going to bring this up. To find out why I have this issue with work would be a great relief.
I’m 41 and halfway to crying just reading this. I spent most of my teen and adult years with a sleep disorder that couldn’t be controlled (until about four years ago) or accommodated. Between that and never understanding people (I may be autistic; my psychiatrist is looking into adult assessment), constant sibling abuse and parental neglect, and struggles with depression and fatigue, I’ve never been able to work. I don’t have any idea what I could even DO – I’m physically weak, can’t understand a word of financial anything, afraid of most animals and incompetent with people, and can’t cook or clean or even leave the house on a daily basis. I have like two skills, and neither is any use in a literate society. My few friends keep telling me to stop worrying and ‘stop trying to monetize everything you love,’ but I CAN’T. I’m getting more and more unemployable every day. I’m so scared.
Dawn Boldero says
Bless you hun! I am sure you have many qualities that the world of work are missing out on!
This is extremely scary to read. I am half your age and have been dealing with these issues since my teenage years. Many people told me, “when you get older, everything will figure itself out.” I guess it’s all a lie. My parents are in their 40s and don’t have jobs or career paths. Both are mentally ill too. I think dying is the better option if life will feel like hell forever.
I’m so sorry that you are feeling like this. I know exactly how you feel, but I promise you that dying won’t fix anything. You deserve to live and be happy, and I pray that you do.
There are too many comments here to see if what I deal with is common, but mine is an aversion to sitting at a desk and using a computer for an extended period to do work I don’t care for, especially if the ergonomics of the seating arrangement are not to my liking. I have a physical reaction that is not unlike claustrophobia, which I have also experienced. My response is usually to avoid my actual work by looking at news or YouTube videos for longer than I should. I know it isn’t rational – why don’t I just do my work? I’m trying to find workable responses to actually do my work. This has been a problem for years, by the way; I’m well into middle age and have managed to get into a position wherein others would consider me to be “successful.” I also recognize the moral obligation I have to my employer to do my work the best I can. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Christine DeLoatch says
Hello all. I haven’t had much time to read the many comments and replies, but I will. When I read the definition of Ergophobia, I finally had a name to put to so much of my difficulties. I couldn’t believe that it mentioned ADHD, challenges with self-care, and depression. I started looking for my picture. When I looked at causes, and 2, 4, and 6 were all factors for me, I knew Ergophobia hit the nail on the head. It was the first time I have heard of it. Believe it or not. I had heard of phobias about everything, butterflies, cotton balls, and clusters – but not the fear of work. Anyway, I wanted to thank the author and site so much. I will continue to look for ways to reprogram my psyche. I found a newish private FB group – just search for Ergophobia, and you’ll likely find it. We need so much support as individuals with invisible disabilities. Dis- meaning somehow different, having gone awry, or just wonky and abilities. I love the word abilities. I tell people all the time that capability is what you can do on your best day or hour. You got enough sleep last night. You ate breakfast. You were not bothered by internal (berating self-talk) nor external (itchy shirt tags, traffic flow) irritants/distractions. What we can do fluctuates based upon how well we are dealing with all of those internal and external issues through all of the attention and knowledge we’ve gained throughout the years and the support we have in our lives. I love to share that with people. Deep breaths, everybody. A psychologist told me that when people are stressed, they hold their breath. Thanks for reading, and know that you are not alone. You are valuable, irreplaceable, and unique. Christine
Thanks Christine. I don’t have Facebook, but any idea where else to find support? You are a kind, positive person.
Wow, reading all these comments, I realize now that I’m not the only one going through this. It felt like I was the only one.
My name is Sam, and I’m 20 years old. The only jobs I’ve had were short-term summer jobs, and I’m dreading going back into physical work. Since the semester ended, I feel like my depression has gotten worse. I don’t go out a lot. All I do is stay in my room watching videos, TV shows, and video gaming.
I have no motivation to go out. I like skateboarding, but I have a lot of anxiety doing it, I overthink and get frustrated over the littlest things, and I beat myself up over it. My depression has gotten so bad I kept procrastinating about changing my major and submitting the portfolio or transferring to another college to the point where it’s too late in submitting.
I’m forced to take a semester off because I don’t want to waste any of my time and my parents’ money studying for a major that doesn’t fit me or go to a college I don’t like anymore. My parents don’t know yet. I know I can’t just sit on my ass at home, so I’ll have to get a job soon. My anxiety has gotten worse too, so I’m scared to work again. Even when I had those past jobs, I only worked for two months, three maybe.
And I felt like those jobs drained me mentally. I don’t understand how so many people have the willpower to continue working at a job they hate for years. I don’t have that willpower. I keep spending money I don’t have because buying things like clothes, or cute little things make me happy, but of course, it’s only temporary.
I also have a boyfriend, but I haven’t been able to see him because of his crazy narcissist freak of a mother that has called the cops, dialed 911 on me for a stupid argument like not taking cardboard boxes out. I beat myself over not saving up my money to move out and have a place with him; I’ve spent hundreds on stupid stuff.
I’m 20 years old, and I can’t drive and have no car. And I failed my permit test years ago. I feel like a complete failure, and I’m so behind in life. I can’t help but compare how a lot of people are already successful at 20. They have their own place and money saved up. They’re going to college and doing well and have friends, living the perfect dream life I don’t have.
I’m just trying to take it one day at a time, study for that permit test, and find a decent job. One day at a time, step by step, I tell myself. But I’m happy others can relate to this. At least I know I’m not alone.
Craig Kerr says
You’re not alone, Sam. I hope it helps to know I am going through the same circumstances. Remember that if anything in life is worth doing, it will not come easy. Set small goals. It doesn’t have to be big things. You will get there.
You’re really not alone. I’ve been stuck in the same loop since I graduated high school 11 years ago. I usually just stayed at home, watching movies and videos. Sometimes video gaming as well. I’ll go out but in places that aren’t as crowded that I feel comfortable in. Or when I need to get essentials such as food and whatnot. I don’t drive either or own a car. It was great when I owned a house I paid off for, but after everything happening in the world and with my money running low, I had to sell to get me out of a situation. So now I rent, and I still don’t work for the moment, and I’m slowly going back to my old situation. I’ve held jobs in the past, but either I’ve gotten fired because of how I was, or I’d quit after a month or two. I suffer from PTSD and Clinical Depression myself. When I saw this article, I never heard of such a condition, and I wanted to know why I was so scared to find work. But now, with me near being evicted, I have to do something. My illnesses have gotten better over time since I went to my therapist four years ago. But we are all a work in progress. As you said, one day at a time. One tiny step is better than no steps at all. I believe in you. I believe you can do it, Sam, if you really focus on it and go for it.
I feel the exact same way, and I didn’t learn about this until now. I’m only 19 and have only worked at one place during the summer, and that’s it. I feel so odd and crazy that I can’t go out and get a job as everyone else does. Anytime I think about applying anywhere, I have an instant panic attack, and my family and friends don’t get it. I have always dealt with anxiety, depression, and ADHD, which doesn’t help my situation. I’ve been stuck in this horrible loop for two years, and I wish it could end, but I’m trying my best. I’m just so worried that I won’t be able to make money to support myself. Usually, I’m the calmest when watching movies or distracting myself in my room.
At least you have a boyfriend.
Hi, I’m Emma
I’m turning 20 soon and I’ve been avoiding getting a job for the last two years. It’s embarrassing to talk about the extent that I’ve avoided it, I was even happy with what happened last year because then I knew I wouldn’t be able to work because I had an excuse. I even decided to become an artist for half of the year just so that it’d seem like I was ‘working’ – that I had a job even though I’m just at home painting.
I have had long-term jobs since I was 13/14, two for two years each and a short time one at a restaurant that I was cut off from because of the situation. Since then I have been walking dogs for people who live in my suburb, which has been able to keep me afloat, but not enough to keep my parents happy about savings. I get compared to my friends and siblings all the time, ugh I can’t even bring myself to remember all the comments made, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the “lazy, get a real job or get out, leech, waste of time, embarrassment, child, grow up” kind of thing. I just can’t bring myself to go back, I remember being in high school on a Monday and feeling the worst dread for work on Saturday – I had a whole week before work yet it was ruining my everyday. I remember on Fridays wanting to just sleep or run away because everyone was so happy about it being the weekend but all I wanted was another week of school; anything over going to work the next day. I would always leave for my shift half an hour early even though I lived four blocks away, and as soon as the shift was over I didn’t feel relief, I just couldn’t believe I’d have to go back again on Sunday, or if it was the Sunday I couldn’t believe I’d have to come back again next week. My last long-term job ended my last year of school, my boss yelled at me for not putting a trolley in the right spot and then never shifted me again. I even called like three times to talk to him because I was never officially fired, but he’d never take my call. He said “you better smarten up sweetheart” in this insane voice and leaned over with his finger in my face – and he was like 6”3 or something – and then stormed off and I was never shifted again. But I had the anxiety I described before THAT job, so it’s not like that event started my problem, it was already an issue controlling my emotional state. The job I had before that was at a cafe, my boss there was very controlling as most cafe owners are, I was 13/14 with chronic fatigue and no memory AND no proper training. I was just thrown in there and I had to learn on the job, I would mess up all the time and customer complaints are terrible at cafes I tell you, especially when the boss is directly affected by any negative comment. But the customers never got mad at me specifically, I was a young girl and I’m a people person so people were lenient with me even though I was no professional waitress. But even then at that job I was so scared every time I had to go, I would be watching the clock every second waiting to leave, and all I ever wished for was that there’d be another girl shifted and I’d be put back in the kitchen on dishwashing with the cook who was so kind and thoughtful. Man, it’s crazy to remember because I can feel the relief I used to have.
Sorry for that rant, I needed to get it off my chest. I’m just confused why I can’t get over myself and just get a job again, I’ve done it before so many times, I don’t consider myself to have social anxiety – unless it’s high functioning or something because I’m good at making friends and speaking up. The people I dog walk for love me and want to pay me extra, but in an ‘actual job’ I’m an internal mess and I can’t think of anything else through my whole week except dread. It’s just that now with this on and off lockdown it’s even harder to get a job than before, and I’m above 18 now so people don’t want to have to pay people full wages for something they could get a kid to do. And I’m studying so I’m scared to take on another, I already sort of dread studying as well, I don’t know if I’d be able to get everything done with the added dread of work. Maybe if I had some sort of understanding from an employer or emotional support from my family instead of disgust it’d be easier.
I feel like I just typed this myself! I can COMPLETELY relate with you. I just currently got a job for a position in which I feel absolutely unqualified for, and it’s all because I have never had an actual job in years besides dog walking/pet sitting. I’m currently 20 years old as well and today is my second day of this job. I am a nervous wreck but I am trying very hard to just push through. Although it’s easier said than done, I think forcing myself to be uncomfortable is beneficial. I wish I wasn’t this anxious, but it’s to the point where I HAVE to get a full-time job for financial reasons and to build credit for the future. I’m pretty much just desperate. If you ever need someone to talk to let me know! Things can be so difficult to deal with alone sometimes.
I feel EXACTLY like what both of you have described! My situation is almost the same also as far as not holding a job more than a couple of years at a time and procrastinating on the job hunting, but I have to get one because I’m the only one I have to depend on and my bills are past due. I can get along with people like me and sometimes I can enjoy socializing with one or two at a time, I just don’t know how to get over this.
Just for the record, Emma, dog walking IS a “real job”. You earn money for doing work. That is a definition of a job. I hate how people always find ways to make others feel small. Whether you’re pushing a cart at a Walmart parking lot or painting in your living room, as long as you are able to earn an income from it it’s a real job. Keep on pushing, girl!
I’m 25 years old. Moved to the US last year and taking English classes at college. I apply for jobs from time to time because I need to start interacting with people and practicing speaking in English, but my fears are eating me. Sometimes, when I get a call after applying, I don’t answer the phone because of my fears. When I get encouraged and answer it and schedule for an interview, I don’t show up because I’m afraid I may not understand them, or I may not be able to express myself, or I don’t have a real experience, or..or..or…
This week I tried to overcome it and went to a Zoom interview. They asked me general questions and scheduled me for an in-person interview. The job is for in-person marketing which means I’ll be communicating with customers all the time. They also provide training. I strongly believed it was a good opportunity for me to face my problem and go out of my comfort zone.
But unfortunately, I couldn’t sleep that night and got so anxious about the interview and the position. I found myself writing them at 4am to apologize for not being able to attend the interview. I even lied to my family that they canceled my interview!
I really don’t know what to do with myself. I feel so worthless and completely not independent. I’m so bad when it comes to interacting with people and have almost no communication skills. I’m full of fears and have no idea what I’m going to do in my life.
I’m thinking of going back to college to get any other degree. I need to interact with people in the new American community before getting a job. But I feel like a loser to be 25 with almost zero work experience, and completely dependent on my father. I feel so bad about myself!
I can totally understand your thoughts and feelings. I hope you know that you are not alone, and it is ok to feel the way that you do. You are so brave and inspiring for the way that you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone, you should be super proud of yourself as I am of you. Thank you for sharing this side of you, you can’t imagine how good it feels to read something so relatable. I am rooting for you! No matter the small or big steps you take, I pray that you find happiness because you are so deserving of it. Also, you sound completely capable of communicating with other people, especially if you got called in for an interview, then you already are halfway in girl!
If there’s something I could say in the hopes it would somehow help, it would be this: remind yourself you can say no/leave. I found the courage to apply to a job by telling myself I could still say no or leave at any stage of the process (but here’s the trick, I encouraged myself not to. By reminding myself of this power that only I had, I took back control of things). By doing this, I was able to attend an interview by telling myself I could still say no, and leave when I felt like it. Give yourself the power to say no/leave and believe me it changes everything. Remind yourself that it’s OK to change your mind once or a thousand times. It’s OK to make mistakes, and usually you are the only person who worries too much about them. Remember that starting something is supposed to be a little scary and it’s OK to feel that way. Remind yourself that you are still so young and have the whole world in front of you, and years from now you will do even more incredible things because of the little steps you did today! You are just stepping into your life as an adult and you are EXPECTED to make tiny mistakes along the way (they really do become great stories when you’re older).
And then before you know it, one interview will turn into your first day, your first (BFF) colleague, your first completed task, your first week, your first praise, your first achievement, your first month, and before you know it, you’re the amazing gal who got her first job!
Trust me, I’ve been hopping from one internship to another since I graduated and believe me it gets better.
Salma, I’m so sorry you have this phobia. I’m 45 and you just helped me realize that I have ergophobia too!
Dee Cusati says
Hi Zach, did you overcome your fears? I am 57 and worked my whole life and I just developed this. I want so bad to work, Dee C.
Heather Taylor says
I really think that the current situation made everything a million times harder. Everyone is out of practice communicating with people.
My name is Andrew. I’m going to be 24 this May and I recently graduated college with my bachelor’s degree.
It all feels like it’s for nothing though. A wasted effort and a waste of my parent’s money. My first job was at party city back in 2015 because my mother dragged me into the store to get a job. The person who was supposed to train me left for college in the first week so I didn’t really learn much of anything at the time and every time I asked a coworker or manager for help, I was brushed off, or sometimes I just wouldn’t know what to ask. Maybe it’s because I was afraid of more responsibility, I can’t say for sure. Our busiest days were during Halloween and I remember when the store finally closed, the owner would yell at me for simple things like not knowing where the bunny ears went in front of the other coworkers while I was up on a ladder for everyone to see. I had a strong feeling that everyone there had some reason not to like me even though I tried my best to be as accommodating and friendly to customers and coworkers alike, but I ended up spending my time wandering the store and pretending to look busy for 5 hours, cleaning shelves and reorganizing merchandise when there was no real reason to do so. I emailed the manager and asked him in person to teach me how to do cashier work, but I was completely ignored. Eventually I had the courage to ask the owner’s son who worked there what I was doing wrong, but he shook his head and disagreed with me which felt like a complete lie. The only saving grace I had from that job was going to college in Buffalo, New York. Taking classes was easier than maintaining a job for me. During my junior year in college, I decided to try an internship over the summer at my local zoo back at home because I knew I had to do something and this was something I was studying for and thought would make me less scared than a retail job like party city. And it also would’ve earned me college credits as well. On the first day, I showed up with my supervisor and went to the farm area. Our job was to sweep up the petting zoo area before the guests arrive. The only problem was that I was trying to work in 90 degree Fahrenheit weather and for a while, I pretended like everything was fine so nobody would worry about me because this is the job I wanted to make me feel happy and fulfilled. When I got to the task of hauling a large kart of hay mixed with animal waste (which I didn’t mind doing) to the back for composting, I started to feel dizzy so I asked my supervisor if I could take a break. She mentioned that the break time was 10 minutes but I ended up needing 15 to fully recover. She noticed this and told the manager without me knowing, so she asked me to stay a bit after our lunch break and explained to me that she didn’t think this job was meant for me. The job that I felt like I put my whole life effort into. And deep down, I of course didn’t want to collapse in front of anyone while working at the farm area so I asked if I could work in the aviary which was a large dome the birds were kept in so I thought it would have shade. I also knew this because I did volunteer work at this zoo before. But she shook her head no. I asked for any office work I could do indoors, anything to keep me here but again, she shook her head over and over and insisted that everyone had to start at the farm area to move up in the ranks. She said that this would be the same work at any zoo I chose. She eventually gave me the choice of either staying to complete the day or leaving right there and now. I decided to complete the day, but initially I felt nothing. It wasn’t until I got on the bus to go back home that I started feeling worse than I could have ever thought I was capable of feeling. I felt something beyond worthless. I even planned to take my own life while my parents were away at Costco to get groceries, but the thought of what that would do to them made me stop. I ended up telling my mom what I was thinking when she got back and I went into therapy for the rest of that summer which I didn’t think really helped. I went into therapy once more during my last semester at college because it was included in the tuition. After that I completed my bachelor’s degree, someone in my family let me know that a family friend she knew was a dog trainer/walker/boarder, so I might enjoy doing that instead. It was fine for a while but I eventually had to stop going because of current safety reasons and honestly, I wasn’t learning very much at all because I wasn’t the one actually handling the dogs, I was just watching her brother walk the dogs and casually talked with him as we walked from one client to another. I wasn’t familiar with the area and I don’t own a car either, so it would have been difficult for me to work as a dog walker for her if I had to walk from one group of clients to another plus walk their dogs, plus walk back to her apartment to return the keys, and then wait for two buses to take me back home, all while making sure I’m not late getting to the clients houses to walk their dogs as scheduled on an app. I tried applying for remote, work from home jobs at CUTCO to sell kitchenware online, but I completely broke down at that job. I felt like I wasn’t myself reading from a script and living off of people’s pity money, going through my contacts of people I personally know to bother them about selling kitchenware they don’t actually need just for them to buy that out of pity. It felt sickening and I couldn’t even get past training for that but honestly, that job wasn’t for me but I had to try something new. This was back in December of 2020. Now I feel like everything is stagnant in my life and I don’t know anything anymore. Nothing makes me happy and the thought of working and doing the same thing day in and day out just fills me with anxiety. I’m also scared because I don’t want people to look at me the same way, like I’m a failure. I don’t want to go through this anymore but honestly I don’t know what I want anymore. All I know is that I do feel guilty and anxious and it’s soul-crushing to me knowing that I don’t have a choice. I’m going to have to somehow put myself out there again in order to survive and I just want to be left alone, but I know that just isn’t possible.
I guess I just don’t know. I don’t know about the future and I don’t know pretty much anything. All I do is live off my parents at 24 and I watch people in my age group succeed in the work force which makes me feel even worse about myself. Everything feels paralyzingly scary to me and I feel like I’ve reached a dead end. And every time I try to talk to someone about this, I just don’t have the words to explain myself that they’ll understand me or they’ll accept being scared of work as an excuse for not working. I just don’t want to do anything anymore. Sorry for the novel, I just really had to get this out.
God, this hit too close to home. I’m turning 18 in April. Haven’t gotten a job yet. I feel like getting a job is a gateway to being miserable my entire life. The thought of being stuck in a humiliating and soul-sucking job is bad enough, but the knowledge that I could stay in a place like that for my entire working life is so much worse. Doesn’t help that my parents have essentially nailed the idea that I’ll grow up, marry someone I despise, have kids who don’t like me, and work a job I hate, so I should enjoy my childhood while I have it. How is that comforting? Telling someone they’ll be a failure and to enjoy it while it’s good? Do they think that’s encouraging? “Oh gee, thanks mom and dad, I can’t wait for everything to go downhill after I graduate. Y’all are so heartwarming.” But now that I’m panicking about it, it feels like everyone has totally flipped the script. It went from “Enjoy it while it’s good” to “What? We never said it would get worse. It’s lovely out here!.” And honestly it’s so confusing. I feel like I’ve been placed on a cliffs edge, and every time I try to tell people around me that I don’t want to stand on the edge, that’s a big drop, I don’t want to fall in, they all deny the existence of the cliff entirely. It’s turning my brain to mush. My dream job would take like, 5-10 years to work up enough money to start doing, and by that time I’ll already have fallen into the pit of being stuck in an awful life where I’ll hate everything. Another analogy, they’re all I know, standing beside a rickety bridge that’s old and crumbling. Pit with spikes beneath it. Happiness and a life well-lived on the other side. You walk the bridge, you risk falling into the spikes (getting stuck at a dead-end job with a family you dislike), but is it worth leaving the safe blankness of the side you’re on to maybe, just maybe, reach happiness? Getting a part time job, to me, just a part time job for extra cash, is taking the first step on that bridge. It’s terrifying. I don’t want to fall in. But I don’t want to risk pursuing happiness because the chance I fall in is so much larger than the chance I make it across. I don’t know. I feel like I’m rambling. I hate this.
I feel that. I struggle with social anxiety and anxiety in general. Being in quarantine kinda just enhanced my depression too. I should focus more on school than finding a job. But I feel like I can’t handle too many responsibilities or else I’ll collapse under the pressure of it all. I still feel like a kid even though I turned 17 a couple of months ago. It seems like everyone is miserable as an adult, and to top it off there are more obligations and responsibilities than I can count. I don’t want to believe that being an adult means that you’re doomed for misery the rest of your life. I really don’t. It makes me want to give up even though I haven’t even started yet. I’ve been sheltered and taken care of ever since I was born. I don’t know what to expect and it makes me feel too helpless and incompetent to handle adult life.
I can relate to everything in this thread. I’m 17 and said I would get a job after I graduate but I’m scared that after I graduate it’ll just be a never ending cycle of going to work and going home which will make me extremely depressed. I have social anxiety so I don’t even want to work at any stores and my cousin my age recently got a job so now I definitely feel like a failure.
Heather Taylor says
Have you ever thought of being a writer. Maybe starting a blog? You are very good.
Man, I feel this so much. Not being properly trained and then not knowing how to get people to teach you. I just posted my own story here, but I always hoped that at the cafe I worked at I would just get put on dishwashing because I didn’t know how to do anything else properly and the cook in the kitchen was so kind to me whereas the boss would yell at me. I have been doing dog walking myself for the past year, but I only have to walk to and from places in my suburb and they pay me 30$ for each walk. I feel like it’s guilt money even though I know it’s technically not, the people I walk for say that they’d pay me more if they could, but it’s not like I’m some highly skilled dog trainer or anything. Like I’m not doing anything that another person couldn’t also do and I’m not learning anything, I’m just walking every morning and getting paid for it. I feel guilty. AND I only got the walking job through a friend as well, I’ve only ever sought after one job myself that I’ve gotten, and it was so bad one time that I got an email acceptance for an interview at some fast-food chain and I DELETED the email because I couldn’t even bring myself to go. They wanted me and I couldn’t even accept it. But what hits me about your story is the fatigue when you were working at the zoo, I had that exact situation in all of my jobs – some I was better at hiding it and I’d just work shorter shifts or sneakily sit down at points or go to the toilet just to rest for a few minutes. Ugh, it fills me with shame, I think most of my fear comes from performance anxiety, it appears to be the same for you too. I don’t know what to do about it man, people say just start working but I’ve worked my whole teenage life, that crap did nothing but make it worse. Maybe I’m just not built for work, maybe I’m an idiot. Working every weekday for the rest of my life makes me just want to give up here, or run away into the woods to some hippie commune, but as you said, the pain of my family stops me, and sometimes the weather is too beautiful to die. I just can’t believe how working tarnishes every other aspect of my life. I see my closest friends, who have both had jobs or never had jobs, working and enjoying it most of the time. Please if you figure it out let me know what you did to get better, I’m desperate.
You’ll be ok I promise. You just have to keep trying. A lot of things do not seem your fault. Just keep reaching. You’ll find somewhere or something you like. If you fail, try again. Your worth is not your productivity level. Taking effort when you are scared and probably dealing with mental illness is brave. Keep at it.
431p me says
Get a pot, put in clinical depression, binge eating disorder, Aspergers, Ergophobia, some undiagnosed auditory and sometimes visual hallucinations from what I assume is the fact that the littlest bit of change or even thinking of work gives me extreme anxiety, boil on high for 10 minutes and you get a debacle of a human being like me. I don’t even know how I got here. My self awareness is sometimes insane but it’s like I’m not in control and sometimes I feel like autopilot is activated and everything goes by in a blur. Why does everything hurt? Every emotion is replaced with pain and self hatred.
Hey man, it’s okay, I’m the same. I was sexually assaulted at work by another male and now the very thought of going to work in the same industry is giving me all these awful feelings that this article described. However I’m not a victim, I don’t play that role and neither should you.
Yahya zekry says
Reading the comments section made me feel like for the first time I am not alone. I am 31 years old and always turned jobs down. I wish I could gather most of you guys in a group telegram or something so we could support each other. Anyway you all made me see a way to help out. I will try to start a new job and see how I can deal with it. And btw I went to 6 different therapists for 9 years only to get worse.
I agree. I start today and I am petrified. My family and friends don’t get it. I have always been on top. Now I’m in the dust.
I have a work phobia/anxiety. After I graduated I came back to work at my family’s. The expectations are very high, they thought that I was like Jesus to come and save them from years of the company’s weakness. In short, my situation has worsened. I never wanna work so I make excuses like I’m sick, my leg broke, I have the flu etc. to avoid work. And every night I say to myself I’ll go to work tomorrow. My anxiety comes in and I start thinking about it every night just to end up not going to work. I really feel bad for me and my family. They thought I would help them in the business and they paid for my college fees. I feel like a total failure. I need help – does it get better? As time passes by it feels worse.
Same goes for me. Even now when I already have a job I still struggle at night thinking about what will happen to me on the next day. I feel so unmotivated to go to work every morning. Whenever someone raises their voice at work I will easily cry, and that kind of situation makes me really hate my job, and I feel I want to quit.
This is exactly how I feel. To the point of being physically ill in the early hours of the morning (2-5) and trying to calm myself down. It’s only getting worse as I get older. Not many people understand.
I have been struggling for so long and feel that I have come to a point in my life, where reality and fear have intersected into one. I have been fired so many times, have had the worst nastiest bosses and have felt so alone it hurts. I used to never give up, continue to find new opportunities and new jobs. I started my own rescue, to ensure I wouldn’t get fired or be judged but yet here I am again. Negative reviews, nasty comments on social media and a husband who is a narcissist and the cruelest man I have ever met. But we have been together since I was 16 and now at 54 my life is crumbling in front of me. For every good thing I do, there is so much negativity in my home. Why do these awful experiences keep happening to me, what am I supposed to learn and how do I fix it? I am paralyzed by rejection, bosses that scream and talk to me like shit, a husband who shames me. I don’t deserve this treatment, yet can’t find a way out. I’m scared and at times have tried to end things. I self abuse myself and feel lost in thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. Why and how do I find a way out – why me and why this. Things shouldn’t be that hard and as difficult as they are. How do I find help and who can help me. I have tried therapy and left worse and more confused and shack-up by what people say and how I am always being judged. It’s a terrible feeling and a heavy weight to carry around. My chest hurts and I have panic attacks. Is it a life worth living? Sometimes I don’t think so. I pray every night for help, guidance and love but the next day it’s a repeat of the last. Please help me to find a way out of this madness, this scary and terrifying feeling of doom. Please show me the way out of this craziness. Thank you for this platform, it brought all these feelings to the surface that I have been suppressing for so many years. I try to get along, fit in and try to say the right thing. I thought when I opened my rescue that I would be saved and have this amazing rescue where people followed me because I did everything right. But I made mistakes and said things that I can’t take back. Now what, where do I go from here? I don’t expect anyone to understand, or even remotely feel an ounce of what I feel. But it’s real, my feelings are real, my struggles are real, my pain is real, my thoughts are real, my confusion is real. Tell me that things will get better, that the worse is behind me, that I will rise up to be this incredible person who can help others, help the ones that need it most, whether it’s dogs, people or the environment. I will log off now and reflect on my life as I am here to figure out the patterns I continue to repeat over and over again. I pray that no one is feeling the feelings that I feel.
That sounds like a really horrible situation; your feelings are valid and despite it sounding childish or too simple, leave the things that are making you miserable. Sometimes our perspective is narrowed because we focus on specific things and maybe what you need is some kind of radical change. I swear it gets better and the people you know don’t represent the entire population; there are some seriously good people out there and jobs that doesn’t require too much from you. The best you can do is to do your best and if anyone requires more, that’s a them problem. You’ll get through this because you are human – much love!
God can I relate. I wish I found this site earlier. I start my new job in 45 min. I’m so scared and nervous.
Praying your job is going well!
Wonderful! How was it? How do you feel about it now? Glad to have come to this site. Feels like I am not the only one feeling these type of feelings about jobs. Whenever I am in a job, I do it well, but I feel so stressed that I start feeling life is not worth living, which is really sad, and then I end up quitting that job. Then again the thought of finding a new job makes me feel so anxious and I just cannot explain how fearful I feel. I just hope one day I really get to do some job which pays me and I do not feel anxious, and that I feel happy.
You’re not the only one that feels this way. I wish I could give some inspirational recovery story but I am unfortunately in a similar boat. I only hope that it might help to know that you’re not the only one. I have 3 kids to support and find even simple things a struggle. I can’t count the amount of jobs I have started and failed at. I never leave on good terms, always just ignoring my phone until I guess they get the message. When I have come clean about my anxiety I have been given support and understanding but only to a point. It’s miserable. I’m 33, I am a sober addict/alcoholic and I have caused untold heartache to my family. I have no friends and I’m crippled by anxiety every day. I have always considered ending it but that seems it would be selfish to my children. I do feel the world would be better off without me in it though. I hope you can find some semblance of joy in your life somehow. I also know how hollow those words can sound when you feel so trapped by life.
Hi, I’m 31 and have been a stay at home mum the last 11 years. I have had a few jobs here and there but most were working for a family member. I have a constant fear that anything I attempt I will fail at. I don’t know whether I am afraid of the shame involved in failure or failure itself. Any time I’ve attempted to work, study etc. I talk myself out of it because of the what ifs and then end up in a full blown panic attack. I have been diagnosed with ADHD, bipolar and social anxiety, but have worked very hard on being stable. I thought I was the only one who felt like this so it’s comforting to see others who understand.
This is the same for me, and recently divorced. My ex took all of my money without my knowledge and lost it all, so I am now penniless and have to go back to work. I am terrified that no one will even want to interview me with an 11 year gap in my resume. And what if I do get an interview and have to defend the fact that I was a stay at home mom/have the skills to work for a company. My degree is in an industry where I have to have a portfolio, which I don’t because I haven’t worked since 2010. And how will I even make enough money to support my kids without a Master’s degree? I am absolutely terrified of going to an interview. And even the thought of going back into advertising/marketing/PR makes me want to vomit and cry. I feel like all I know how to do is be a mom to my young kids.
Hi, I have this Phobia. I am 27 years old and I have not worked for 10 years. My last job was in retail and it was horrible. I suffered from poor management, no training and little support. I suffered with PTSD and nightmares for years. I have an aversion to getting new work because I am scared that I will be yelled at and won’t be competent. I am on government support as I am unemployed and I experience much shame and guilt for being a burden to my family. I don’t know when this will end but I have a feeling it might rule my life. Please help.
Try NLP, CBT courses. Search about past life regression. Hear motivational songs. Change your response, behavior. Learn people management courses. Try self employment jobs (skill oriented jobs).
Please seek help ASAP. I am 45 and suffered from this problem all my life. I have never really had a job, a few weeks here and there. I would not turn up for interviews, turn my phone off so I couldn’t be contacted and if I got a job I would leave at smoke or lunch break and not come back. I know I’m a fairly capable person but the thought of failure is crippling. Whoever reads this and has these issues seek help immediately. This fear will not go away on its own and before you know it you could be at the age of being “unemployable”. I have tried different counsellors and treatments but to no avail. I think I had left it too long thinking it was something I had to sort out myself.
I thought I was the only one. I hate feeling like this. I’m also anxious in every other sense too, like with talking to people I don’t know and even people like my own mum that I don’t see very often. It’s really crazy it feels that bad. It’s so hard to cope, especially knowing my girlfriend is the only one providing for our two kids.
I’m so thankful I found this. I was about to blow my head off. My wife thinks I’m just lazy. I don’t want to work but does she understand that I don’t want to be like this either. I don’t want to be looked at as weak or less, and I feel that way.
Can we talk. I think I may have the same condition.
Hi Andrew, I am 27 too and this is the first time I look up what I’ve actually been feeling. My longest job was a year ago, three months. Exactly the same: poor management, no training and zero support. That was my only actual job. The other lasted like 3 months and it was a teaching assistant of nothing less than my own mother. Sometimes I even turn my phone off or don’t answer calls from places I know want to interview me. To make matters worse, I live in a place where there aren’t many work options, so I find myself rejecting the little interviews I do get every few months. I feel like a failure, incompetent, I’m scared of being away from my support system (family), it’s ruining my life. I’m like a child, incapable of taking care of myself and it’s absolutely embarrassing. But I am so afraid of not fitting in and not being in the level. I have a degree and I have wasted it, sometimes I look for entry level jobs because they require less, and yet I still avoid working. I want to do so much in my life and I know I’m self sabotaging. I know I’m not helping, but I related to you in some ways, I feel for you as I feel for myself. You’re not alone, we’ll get through this. Much sympathy, Alona.
Hi Alona, I can so well relate to you. This happens with me too, I get calls from good companies but I reject it because I feel I don’t know things. One thing I realized is that as an individual I have not put efforts in my masters degree – assignments, projects, internships. I am not able to complete it because of lack of willpower. Has it happened with you as well? I feel if I start brushing my concepts maybe it will be helpful in the long run. What did you do to avoid this situation?
Hi Alona, I can completely relate with you. The thought of updating my resume makes me feel sick, and then my mind starts to imagine things of all the possibilities how the job will not be okay for me. I really want to do a job that makes me happy and pays me. I hope one day I will be able to conquer this irrational fear. Glad to have come here and be able to see so many people telling the same thing that I feel myself and am unable to explain to others properly.
I feel the same way.
I’m 24 years old, I’ll be 25 next month. My grandmother just passed away. She helped me and my dad out financially for years. My dad had a stroke 5 years ago and is on disability. It’s only 790 a month. And we can’t survive on that. I’ve been trying for 6 years to get a job. And I think I have this phobia.
I had a job offer for an overnight shift at McDonald’s and I turned it down. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it. That I would get yelled at and get crappy comments. Get told I’m too slow.
I just want to help my dad. I feel so useless and I hate it. I hate that I’m scared. And my doctor is of no help. I asked for a referral for a therapist but he never got back to me with it. I don’t know what else to do.
My family have been pressuring me on getting a job despite the pandemic and it’s making me anxious as hell. The constant remarks on how useless I am and how I should just leave the house doesn’t help me either. I am glad to know that what I’m feeling right now is being felt by other people too because at least it gives me assurance that I’m not just being a drama queen (I would love to open this up to my parents but they won’t believe me anyway).
I am turning 22 and I really want to start working since I stopped school recently but I am very anxious and scared of other people. I even passed my resume to a job offering but I did not hear from them after that. I just want support from my family but they are the ones to turn me down and mock me in the first place. I don’t really want to have this phobia but if I do have this then please pray for me. I am in a very dark place right now and I have no one else but myself.
Sharmaine.. I’m a 22F and I have similar fears – at times, I feel as though I’m not suitable for life. No one in my family is aware of my problems. I’ve had many jobs, all short-lived and all social-oriented. I don’t think anyone is aware that I have this anxiety. In fact, I believe everyone thinks I’m fully capable. My husband has been supporting me since we were 18. You’re not alone – it gets better.
Sharmine, I am 27 and I am in the darkest place I’ve been because of this. I understand what you’re going through. I graduated college at 23 and since then, I haven’t been able to work for more than three months, twice. I wish I could talk to my family as well, but even when they don’t pressure me (which must be soul crushing) and have supported me as much as they can, I know they wouldn’t understand the level of fear I get from it. I get financial support from my boyfriend too, and I tell him that I don’t get interviews, but the truth is that I don’t move as much towards them because of this. I’m too embarrassed of him thinking I’m just lazy and want to live off him. I’m scared of being dependent forever. I’d love to do things for myself. I feel it’s ruining my life. Sometimes I wonder if I’m destined to die young, because I’m not doing anything worthwhile, and it’s embarrassing.
Wow, I feel so much better that there’s actually people in the world that relate to me. I just turned 20 years old and I’m going to a community college. I’ve been terrified to get a job. I’ve had jobs before but I never lasted in them. I got anxiety and panic attacks at each job I was in. Now I’m trying to apply for jobs and I am once again terrified. I really want to help my mother because she’s always helped me and it saddens me because I really want to help her, but my damn anxiety is just TOO much. I’m afraid to drive AND do cashiering. I feel like a dumb no-life that shouldn’t be here. I wish I was so confident and smart that I could just go out and go for it. And when it comes to interviews I’m scared what if I mess up on what I say? If I can’t think of anything to say about it? I’m a mess.
Hi I’m 21 and I felt the same way. I’ve had 2 jobs and never lasted (I got fired). They told me I was way too slow and looked like I didn’t even want the job. They put me in cashier to switch up the routine and 3 minutes into attending a customer I panicked and gave a customer $2 extra back even though the screen clearly told me I had to give them 1.83 back. I kept doing this to the next 3 customers. The manager pulled me to the side and asked me what was going on, why I was giving more than I should be. I couldn’t explain, I just freaked out and remember seeing everything spinning and I couldn’t really hear anything while ringing up customers. I felt so stupid. That was a month ago. I’ve had nightmares about it. I dread looking for a job now. I get this feeling.
This is a few months late but I’m just now seeing this thread and I read so many. Your comment I probably related to the most and it’s really crazy because I would tell people about my fear and they just keep saying to get over it and the more you do it the more you’ll get used to it. But they don’t understand how scared I am just thinking about it. I wanna cry thinking about it. Any time someone suggests a job I can do I’ll just immediately reply hell no mostly because I don’t wanna be a cashier because I’m terrified that I’ll count the money wrong or they’ll give me fake money and I won’t notice and I’m just afraid to deal with rude customers. I don’t know how I’d respond to customers if they were yelling at me or if they had a certain issue. I’m really terrified that I might accidentally start laughing when talking to somebody just because I’m so nervous and once I start laughing it’s hard for me to stop. Also, I’m already hard of hearing. I can’t hear people for my life and what if I can’t understand the customers accent or just understand them in general then I don’t wanna have to keep saying huh. And if I keep saying huh then I’ll eventually just pretend I understood because I don’t wanna look dumb. I’m just so anxious and no one understands how bad it is and no one I know actually understands how much I overthink things in my head. I overthink things like crazy and no one knows. I just wanna make sure I’m doing the right thing. So yeah that’s me, 19 and scared to get a job that requires talking to people. Especially people my age. That is the most terrifying thing that’ll happen. I can most likely talk to older or middle aged people but people my age, oh no I’ll cry.
Ok wow. I feel like this is the thread I’ve been looking for. I’ve always felt like something is wrong with me for feeling the way that I do. I even explain to my boyfriend pretty much the only person that knows what I go through and he tells me to just face it and it will get better. But all of the jobs I’ve had thus far I’ve felt like this. Interviews have always been the worst for me. I get so scared and feel sick and can never sleep the night before. I apply to jobs but hope to not get call backs because my anxiety and fear of socializing is that bad. I do feel better seeing I’m not the only one although I wish I knew someone personally who felt the same way that we could get through it together or relate on it. Because I literally am the only person I know that is like this. I can’t even call a therapist that my insurance covers because I’m too scared. What will they say to me? What do I say? Will they judge me? It’s ridiculous at this point. And I don’t want to be this way forever. Life is passing me by and I could have had my bachelors by now. I dropped out of college a few years ago due to this very problem. Speaking in front of people is not my thing. I literally have dropped out of classes due to the strong fear. It affects all areas of my life, I hate it so much I cry. I can never hold down a job, the most I did was a year. I was so proud of myself. But even then I quit because it was just too much to handle. I don’t drive either because I also deal with driving anxiety. When someone is with me in the car I’m fine. I just don’t know what to do at this point. What if therapy doesn’t work even if I call them? I don’t want to be on medication for life. I already take enough over the counter meds for headaches I don’t want more medication. I just want it to go away naturally. Facing the fear works temporarily but then it comes back. I’m so embarrassed to be this age and not have accomplished anything. Please if anyone reads my post give me any suggestions that may have helped you. Also what jobs if any has worked for you? Call centers/receptionist don’t really work for me because I’m not good at talking. Please help me out if you have any tips. I don’t want to be 40 and regret my life or for things to get worse. This literally affects my everyday life. I stay in all day most days. I depend on my boyfriend a lot because I can’t really handle tasks alone. I don’t even fully drive by myself yet without having a full blown anxiety attack. It puts stress on him and I hate it. I want to be independent and not make others around me feel like they have to take care of me. Literally no one understands what I go through. And now that I know this isn’t a real thing I could cry. Still wish there was at least a place dedicated to this fear of job/social anxiety thing where we could all talk and help each other out. I would like to attend. Please any suggestions would be appreciated. I’ve seen lots of good comments on here. Let’s keep it going. It was hard for me to type this. I don’t like being judged. Anyways if you read the whole thing thank you. Have a blessed day!
Hello, it’s 12am as I write this with a lot of anxiety from this very situation. My name is Sam and I’m about to be 22 and have only worked a few shifts at different places. I could never make it past a week. My boyfriend works and although we live at our parents houses we are trying to save up for a house. He feels like he’s alone and the pressure is overwhelming to get a job. I feel guilty everyday. I just wanted to comment because I feel your pain, but I also want you to know therapy would help so much! I’ve been going for a year now and it’s a safe place, they won’t judge you. There is good people out there I promise! I’m going to school to be an anxiety therapist to help people like you and me :) We will all get through it together!
Hey.. you have no idea how much I have personally related to what you have described. I’m a 22 year old female and also feel alone with the fear of working on anything. I’ve felt worthless and have had a lot of deep fear thinking of a future where I would be lazy, just stuck in my head, not someone to be an example to future children, or homeless. I’ve noticed that I have recently become afraid to look at people, because I feel like they can see that I have “no integrity.” I feel like others are so high above me – just anyone – since it seems almost everyone I know responds to the call to work unquestioningly.
I get dizzy and foggy before I go to my part-time job and am a bag of nerves as I’m there, afraid to mess up. Same with job interviews and job hunting – I get dizzy and blank out as I apply to them and definitely have had panic attacks before the interviews.
The saddest thing is that I avoid the work I would love to do, which is my art. Yeah, I feel like I am letting my dreams slip down the tube, because I want to avoid thinking of the avenues in which I could take this dream (out of that fear that I might give up on it).
We all know this thinking and these strong feelings and behaviors are not good. I think it really does come down to whether or not you are willing to spend yourself doing something you know is the right thing to do. What breaks the clouds for me is remembering you need to be willing to die to do the right thing. Sounds crazy, but this is the bedrock of having morals. If you remember that nothing is worth you doing something that goes against what you believe is right, then you have no more fear, and you don’t compromise. The obstacles aren’t considered, and you are at peace knowing that you are doing the right thing (no matter how much it hurts).
This blows through the destructive thought process, but of course, the fight or flight feeling of anxiety is still overwhelming and present. But there I can at least have the peace that I pushed through even though I had a burden on me – and when I have that peace knowing I still pushed through (even though I felt really panicked on the inside), no one’s opinion saddens me afterwards. :)
I believe when we don’t remember things like this, our minds spin and then we cave in on ourselves and call ourselves cowards, and for me, that is when the fear of looking others in the eyes (because I feel like I lack integrity) comes upon me. We’ve got an extra weight on us that others might not experience in regards to fear of working (probably fear of being found out that we are not perfect). I think the more we remember to die to ourselves for the mission, the more personal integrity we will build in ourselves – and then, no one’s opinion will matter to us anymore (I hope this one day) and this deep fear will dissipate. I think we can change our thought patterns and overcome this one day.
Believe me, I’m flat on my face in the trenches right now with this. But we gotta remember that hope over and over again. Cultivating hope is the only path forward. I’m praying for all of you. God bless.
Hello. What you wrote resonates with me. I could not complete my education normally because of intense fear of people. So I left it midway. I have crying episodes and panic attacks where it seems my head will explode. Fear seems to strangle me if I have to deal with people. I have never been able to stay in a job for long. Bullying and harassment has always followed me while working. I kept trying but would feel like running away. I was in fact glad they fired me recently. I don’t want to apply and when I do I wish they don’t call me. I also cannot eat and sleep the day before the interview and then I freeze and do not go. In my first job I worked so hard but they fired me ruthlessly. They told me when no one was there. I went out and stood alone for half an hour crying and then walked in the rain the whole time crying. I had a nervous breakdown and till today I cannot go to the street where my old workplace is. I have never done therapy as I cannot afford it. Due to the pandemic I just keep crying and contemplating bad things. Can this be cured with free therapy online? I am scared to talk to anyone about this. What type of therapy should I search for and where to find it?
Emilie Goforth says
I have the same anxieties. I went to trade school for dental laboratory technology which is making false teeth. You don’t mess with patients or customers at all. You do your work on your own besides talking to coworkers some like any job. This and a lot of other trades are like this also. Like, automotive repair (body work or mechanic), most construction jobs, electrician, carpenter, work in a mail room sorting mail, forklift driver or working in a warehouse, painter, dry wall installer, roofer, farmer, animal groomer or trainer, landscaper, power line man, tree trimmer, baker, chef and a ton more. Look it up online and they will give you a lot more examples. I know this doesn’t help with interviewing and job searching but it should help once you get the job. I have started eating full spectrum cbd gummies every day and they have helped me so much with my anxiety. Try to not think about the interview too much before hand. I know it’s hard but you’ll make yourself more nervous the more you think about it. Just go in there, be nice, make eye contact and just do your best. They know people get nervous in interviews so if you don’t know the answer to a question or don’t know what to say just say I’m sorry I’m nervous. They will most likely understand. That’s all you can do. If you don’t get the job then it just means it was not the job for you. I hope some of this helps you along your way. Put it in God’s hands and pray about it. Do your best and leave it at that. Much luck on your journey.
I finished my undergrad degree last year. Until now I don’t have a job. When I feel brave I try to send my resumes on job postings but I am really afraid that they might call me for an interview. Just thinking of interviews makes me really weak. Most of my University classmates have work now and here I am staying at my parents house, that’s why I disconnected with all my University classmates. I feel bad for doing that. I am afraid that my life has no sense now since I don’t think I’m going to earn money that I need to live a life.
Hey there. I also finished undergrad last year and currently do not have a full-time job. I occasionally send out job applications if I can do at least 70% of what is written. Interviews also scare the shit outta me even if I think I have prepared enough. I have a bad habit of comparing myself to my friend who graduated the same year as me and 2020 kids have gotten jobs during the pandemic. Sure, one could say I can ask them if they have any tips but they’ll just give me what I already know. My panic and anxiety attacks have shot up the roof (as I am typing this). Though my parents are not pressuring me to get a job but I too feel bad because they have invested so much in me and at the end, I am still struggling to get a job to give them back. I feel so useless. It’s been a discouraging and depressing experience for a couple of years for me. I just don’t know what to do anymore.
I feel so scared of all this stuff. I’m 23 and never had a job in my life. Just the thought of it makes me feel so drained and anxious. I feel like I’m having a small panic attack or my heart skips a beat every time I hear someone mention that they got a job or they are planning to. I’m studying graphic design by the way and I’m in my last year of my studies and the whole course has been mostly a disaster. I just kept on going because I’ve had only a handful of friends to make me keep on going and that’s it. I can’t seem to manage and remember all the stuff I’ve “learned” and only the thought of having to work with others is scaring me so much because I’ll be getting a degree that I’m not proud of exactly or finding a job in that department does not excite me. Or any job in that matter. I just love books but the though of working in a bookshop makes me feel so weak and interacting with all those people. God maybe I will never be cured and I will live with my parents forever.
Happy to find this thread. Among the people I know no one faces these severe issues with anxiety.
I have had problems with talking to people since childhood. I guess childhood bullying and family circumstances contributed to it. My dad died when I was 6 and since then its only my mom, sister and me. And all of us are introverted. I have had some acquaintances of sorts through out my life till now but never had any good friends. I’m just not good at talking to anyone but my family.
This wasn’t a problem until now that I’m working. In fact I found my current job due to luck as my interviewer was a good person and gave me time to relax while I was having a panic attack during the interview. I can do my job (I’m a software engineer) without any problem but whenever I have to interact with my manager or other higher ups, I have a full blown panic attack. I think I’ll have a tough time switching companies too because I’m afraid of interviews. The thought of sitting in front of someone, answering his questions and making conversations with him to get a job gives me a lot of anxiety.
I also can’t take help or can’t explain my situation to anyone as I’m from a conservative country where mental issues are never discussed (I’m from India). I want to get out of this situation and keep reading articles online but it just doesn’t feel as easy as they say it is.
This is me! I’m 20 years old and I’ve never had a job. When I was around 16-17 everyone around me told me to at least try to apply for a job so I did. They all said: We’re sorry, we already found someone. After that I didn’t apply for a job anymore because I thought that they wouldn’t want me so it was not worth it. I also didn’t apply anymore because my excuse was that I have school and that I have to focus on that first. But I’m 20 now and every single day I think about how everyone my age has a job next to school and I don’t. I am just so scared that when I apply, they’re gonna call me for an interview. What if I say or do the dumbest thing ever during that interview. And what if I actually get the job, I can’t even explain how scared I am to socialize with people. I am just so scared because I know that this is gonna be a huge problem in my life and I don’t think it’ll ever go away.
I have a similar kind of problem. I am getting into a new job with known people because I studied in the same institute. That’s the problem, since I know about them I am afraid how they are going to criticize me in every thing. How will I be able to cope with those who has 20 years of experience. When I was studying I was not myself, I lost being me. Now God has put me on the same path to enter the same premise but as a faculty this time. I am afraid to go back there. What should I do now?
I am so glad to know I am not alone. I wonder if there’s like a facebook group about this. It’s so hard dealing with this when no one around you can comprehend what you are going through.
I felt this!
That would be great if there was a fb group. If not I am thinking maybe I could start one.
I read this and cried. It’s me! I always wondered why I felt so scared to do such a normal adult thing. Even when we had serious financial struggles I was terrified to work. It all makes sense now. It’s such a relief and it literally feels like a weight off my shoulders. The best news is there is help for it. This changes everything.
Emma B says
Omg i’ve read a few of your comments and i’m the exact same to the point i don’t go out. It’s not that i’m afraid of going out, it’s just i’m SO anxious, depression, feel worthless, fatigued, empty. I have hormone issues too so it may be contributing since i was never as depressed until i was 15 (second year of my period). It started with the excess hair then from 17 onwards it all started to get worse. I had severe mood swings for a while but then suddenly it stopped but replaced with low libido and my periods became less and less frequent till i only get a few a year now.
There has been signs since i was young though of Anxiety. First day of Reception here in England at 4 years old about 8 seconds i walked through the door, i put my coat on the hooks and took 1 look towards all the other kids sitting on the small tables and chairs (that looked bigger to me at the time) and i freaked. I froze then burst out crying and got so frightened i tried to leg it out of there. I don’t think it clicked what i’d be in for at all or why i was going there or what i’d be going there for, what i’d be expected to do and the pressure. Because adults make school sound SO fun (when it’s not, it’s awful and i continued to do badly, even worse in High School where the bullying from both students and teachers started).
Even in Primary though i had issues learning and doing things around others. I always had that nagging feeling of worthlessness. Now today after trying college and failing there too (also awful and giant waste of time as much as high school), i just can’t learn around others at all now. I tried for 5 and a half years in courses, alas i never made realistic course choices but again i blame schools and teachers because they put unrealistic false ideas in everyone’s head and i think we’re now seeing the result of that with a skills shortage and people struggling to adapt to society (which also sucks). All i know is i learn better alone. I started learning some Math on Khan Academy and i’m at 4th Grade/Year Math now. It’s a bit more tricky than you think, even the basic stuff, even for Adults.
I don’t entirely like Math either but i seem to like the challenge. I’m quite smart. I write all my own Notes now too down to wording it how i personally understand because it’s one of the many annoyances of schools that contributes to failing their students. Their One-Size-Fits-All way of doing things never allow us to adapt to work to ourselves. 4 years ago i still believed what i was always told that i’d never be able to learn it because “I wasn’t good at math and not a math person” pfff… math is just a skill like learning to ride a bike, you just have to stick with it longer, think longer and adapt around the problems, it really is great for exercising your brain to get used to adapting around problems and finding solutions, although underneath the confusion for many years it was always something i was naturally great at and analyzing information.
I also always felt different and like an alien around other people and reading about how “Gifted” and “Autistic” people feel that way and watching videos it’s EXACTLY how i feel and i don’t relate and resonate with how most people socialize and interact. I JUST DON’T. I don’t care about stupid Small Talk and meaningless chit chat talking JUST for the sake of talking. My brain would like to talk about something actually interesting and that isn’t meaningless. Everyone treats me like a freak, i get bullied even at 29, i know if i went out and started a job somewhere or even went for an interview i’d get called “weird” and a “freak”.
I don’t think i’m Autistic or have Aspergers, i don’t have Sensory Problems, i don’t have OCD (apart from getting a bit obsessive about things but only things i feel most passionate and enthusiastic about), i like organization but in a healthy way because i don’t like to clean lol. I organize, i sort and then i’m done (although i’m never really satisfied with what i’ve done either). I pick up JUST fine what people mean. Oh yeah.. thus the trauma from all the bullying and abuse i’ve suffered from people my entire life, I GET IT, and i don’t like it AT ALL. People make me anxious and i just expect it, i don’t take thing 100% literally either, i know what people mean when they say “Put this in the bin” if someone hands me a cup with a banana peel in it.
I was tested a little though NOT the best test but the tester she DID suggest i may have a bit of a Higher Intelligence and i think i agree because i seem to have my own original way of understanding things which nobody no matter HOW hard people have tried to “fix” that or “change” it they’ve failed, but there’s nothing wrong with it. When it works for me, i feel more comfortable around people older than me too, except my parents, my uncles, grandparents, aunties, uncles and those in “authority” positions, because they lie and they suck, so it’s for valid reasons.
So i have THAT to compete with too. I WANT to get over this Anxiety and Depression and nearing 30 i REALLY need to get a job. I know the fear is irrational but the thought of even going for an interview, immediately my chest and breathing gets tighter. I start to feel utterly miserable and like crying, the anger, frustration, thinking “What’s the point in doing all this when i’ll no doubt get fired at some point? Nobody ever stays in the same job, it’s A LOT of effort when he just die anyways.” Urgh… NO! That’s a terrible thought, don’t think that.. but I DO.
That is good to know. I thought I was so weird. I apply for job positions and then when they call me I become so frightened that I don’t answer my phone!
Vinny C says
I have had the same problem for many years now. I have no idea what to do or how to fix it. I want to live a normal productive life but I am constantly nervous or having panic attacks multiple times a day.
Exactly the same happens to me. I feel anxious when going out. I want to get a job but I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t answer the phone when they call me.
Face your fear to overcome it. I am also having the same problem that you have. I’m running away from work opportunities. I’m having financial difficulties. I cant seem to find any solution. It’s killing me slowly. I get so scared from getting a job that I freeze to death and hide in my room. But I will try to take a stand and fight. You need to fight it, it’s like a demon that haunts us. We need to stand our ground.
Wow! Knowing that I’m not alone in this is sort of giving me motivation and drive to pick myself up and try again. But how though?
I searched for “scared of getting a job” to find a thread on a forum or something and this was the first thing to come up, I didn’t realize it was an actual thing.
I’ve always had negative experiences with jobs, every job I’ve had has caused my anxiety to spiral out of control. I was nervous when I started my first ever full time job at 17 but figured that was normal, everyone else goes to work and manages fine so surely I can too, right? But I had these feelings with every single job. I tried to ignore those feelings and do the ‘right’ thing, I want to be independent, I don’t want to be ‘lazy’, but things never ended well for me.
Eventually I left work to become a stay at home mother, which had its own challenges but that pressure and dread of finding and having a job had gone, at least for a while. Now my kids are at school and people keep asking me what I’m doing with all my ‘free time’ in a snarky tone which makes me feel great. I have been searching and applying for some very part time jobs because again it’s the ‘right’ thing to do but I’m scared. What if my colleagues are mean? What if I hate it? What if the same thing happens that happened with all my previous jobs and I can’t cope?
The thing is, you know what people are thinking of you when you’re in this situation. It’s everywhere, people who don’t work are lazy, they don’t want to be responsible, they want to sponge off of others forever, if you’re in the UK you want to sponge off the government etc. It’s not like this is a known form of anxiety that people understand. All that adds to how I feel, I feel inadequate, like I shouldn’t be in this world, I feel misunderstood and I feel pathetic as an adult approaching 30 that I can’t handle something as basic as having a job. And it’s not all in my head because that’s how most people probably see me to some extent.
I’m now trying to figure out a viable way to earn money from home. Maybe working for myself won’t be as scary as working for someone else.
I feel like I just read my own comment. I’m approaching 40 and have had the exact same experiences as you. I have two professions I can choose from and both have had work bullies basically, that have me riddled in anxiety at the thought of yet another job after my maternal leave is up. I didn’t even know this was an actual disorder. I love working, I just can’t deal with the work gossip and politics and things like having to join colleagues for lunch and work socials. It drains me to exhaustion. I’m now opening a home daycare and taking a pay cut but this is not my dream. I cannot bare the thought of yet another job with all its drama’s and then being a happy, positive role model to my child who only deserves the very best version of me. Stay at home job is my dream but it’s really hard to get a good paying one.
I feel the exact same way! I’m only 23 and struggle so bad. Every job I’ve had literally scared me. I start a new job tonight and I’m freaking out. I cried yesterday and I feel so sick right now. I just want to hide forever and never come out. I know anxiety is about facing that fear but it’s SO hard. Some people just don’t understand this whole thing. I wish you the best!
Wow literally my exact same situation. I just turned 30 and I feel so far behind my peers. Like I’m doing nothing with life. My child is in 2nd grade now and I’m able to go back to work although I get so much anxiety from the thought. I had GAD and take anti depressants and what not, but sheesh it’s tough. Like what am I going to be good at? What are my interests? What if it’s difficult to be going to work everyday and drain me making my anxiety and depression worse? Your comment is so much like my own situation. I hope things come together for you hun! For myself too.
Alexis, I feel the same exact way. I am so happy I found this thread. I have worked since I was 14 and have been furloughed due to the pandemic at my current position. I am now actively seeking new work, but it has been absolutely anxiety inducing. Agonizing to say the least. The thoughts that race through my head.. am I going to be qualified? What if I feel sick at work? What if I pass out? What if I have headaches every day. These thoughts are ruining my life and exhausting me. I’ve been on antidepressants which seem to help a bit, but once the anxiety starts it just snowballs.
Reading this made me cry! Sad that others feel the same but relieved at the same time.
I know I got social anxiety and performance anxiety but reading this my biggest fear has always been working.
I am profoundly deaf and have suffered from social anxiety since a toddler. I was severely bullied in school. Although I attended college I struggled with this.
I did work as a playgroup assistant for a year until the leader decided I wasn’t bouncy or loud enough. She made me feel I was useless at the job. I then developed low self esteem.
I have always felt like I was thick, not capable, fear of failure, fear of messing up in front of employees and being humiliated. At school my teachers humiliated me in front of a class of hearing kids. I am deaf and they told me I couldn’t talk properly etc. but this was in the 80’s.
In my early 20’s I went on to have my own children. I did have a cleaning job but my sister got me that and I worked with her.
That ended when the company went bust.
Fast forward to 4 years ago the father of my children and I separated and I knew I needed to do something about getting a job. I had CBT counseling. She got me volunteering at a charity shop. They were nice but I never felt like I belonged. I couldn’t hear to join the conversation etc.
Later my dad became very ill and I became his carer. He died last December and I was meant to find a job but I get myself into such a state over it.
My adult children think I am lazy and bullying me into finding employment and don’t believe me when I say how scared I am. They are so ashamed of me claiming benefits and to be honest I am ashamed too. I can’t even get myself to go to a job interview through having massive panic attacks. I also think I suffer from selective mutism when I am extremely anxious as I freeze and can’t talk.
I am like this at social gatherings too. I avoid them if I can.
I really don’t know what to do anymore but I can’t stay on benefits much longer.
I live in fear all the time.
Jessica F James says
I was doing some quizzes and one of the questions had something to do with phobia of animals. I looked up the different types of phobia, and happened to run across this one. As I was reading this, I almost wanted to cry too. I’m like, is this something my therapist has written in his notes about me too. I have a mental illness with depression and anxiety. Mostly all my life I have been dealing with this stuff about working. I had my dream jobs, and still was not able to keep them long. Just reading this, and reading the comments here, makes me want to cry. I know all of this so well. At this moment I am out of work and I am dealing with this work phobia right now. Just the thought of it makes me sick.
It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this. I’m not sure what to do anymore. I graduated with a B.A. in Media Arts and moved to California thinking I would be able to handle a job in entertainment since I enjoy it so much. I was incredibly wrong. I’m almost out of money and I’m in a year long lease. The idea of getting a job sends me into a spiral of self doubt and anxiety. I have turned down so many interviews because I’m so scared to go in. Whether it’s for service or some entertainment job I can’t seem to be able to handle it. I even had a trial day as a video editor for a hair stylist and I forced myself to do it. I was anxious the entire day and extremely uncomfortable. They put me in a leather chair that was too small for me and had me label video files for 5 hours. They would rush to me with the SD card and tell me I had a short amount of time to do it because they were very busy and would always be moving. Needless to say I was miserable and so sacred, all I wanted to do was go to the bathroom and cry. When I left I assumed I did an awful job and they wouldn’t call me back. They just called me and offered me the job and I was so panicked that I said yes. I’m so upset, I’ve been lying on my floor dreading what to do next. Either I take this job in an environment that makes me extremely anxious, or I have to call them and tell them I can’t take the job after accepting it which also makes me extremely anxious. I know I need the money but I’m not sure I can handle it. What should I do?
Me Too says
Get some counseling and meds. Don’t care how you have to do it – this will help you. Tell them up front you need help with anxiety to get and keep a job. If you can, take this job and hold onto it. Reading what you wrote – you were awesome! They want you! You got the job! And showing up is 50% or more of the battle. The battle is mostly inside your thoughts. So get help with it. Wishing you the best (Me too).
Oh my gosh. I had no idea this was a thing until I found myself googling why I’m anxious about finding a job again. I’ve had long periods between jobs in the past 7 years (the longest was 3 years). I feel like my anxiety towards working is amplified when I have other major stressors in my life; currently it’s where I live. It can be noisy and chaotic (lots of loud, obnoxious people in apartments with paper thin walls and floors). Every time I have a job – even just barely part-time – I sit around on my days off and the moment I get off from work mentally counting down the hours until I have to work again. I dread having to be “on” for my coworkers and customers (unfortunately I’ve pretty much just worked customer service oriented jobs). I feel doom thinking about if I’ll get harped on for making a mistake or get yelled at by a customer. It’s SO embarrassing because family will ask what I’ve been up to and if I have a job. I just have to say “no, just finishing my degree.” A lot of people I know – family and some friends – are generally understanding but I know there’s probably still judgement. I want to be functional and independent. Why would I want to be a 30 year-old with no consistent income? I just hope that when I finish my Bachelor’s that perhaps it will open some different doors.
My father never understood this about me. Putting me down when he thought I wouldn’t stick to something and he was right. I didn’t finish college, I was a grade A student but had a sudden breakdown about my degree choice and dropped out. I’ve had several jobs since then and only been able to keep those because everyone was down to earth friendly. Now at my current job they’re all super extroverts and kind of fake imo and I hate going in. Sometimes they make me feel stupid and incompetent. It has completely broken down all the confidence I built up at the jobs I kept longer than a year. I feel back at square one. No longer able to hold a job. Constant fear of going in. I hurt myself on the job a week ago and they’re trying to get me to come back in a position where I have to be more social. It just makes me sick inside. I feel like throwing up every time I think about going back to work. But I can’t stay home, I’m married, my husband works 40 hours a week in a physically demanding job. I’m sure he’d love to see me home all the time after coming back from his overnight shift. So it’s this awful burden I hold of wanting to quit but riddled with guilt if I do. I’m 25 and feel so lost and I’ve seen a therapist but honestly it’s not helping.
Hi Natalie. I’m Destiney. I feel like I literally wrote this. I’m 26 and currently on short term disability because I had a mental breakdown which stemmed from stress at work. Just the thought of going back gives me severe anxiety. My fiancé work 60 hours a week overnight and money is still tight. I’m feeling the pressure to go back to work but I’m just so scared about having to go back. I was an under qualified candidate for the position because I lacked a bachelors degree but I was always a great talker and amazing with customer service. However my fellow coworkers make me feel like an idiot and look down upon me constantly. This has made me feel so bad about myself and I have no wish to be social with anybody. I much rather be home with my two cats all day than at work. I would literally cry every Monday morning.
I’m terribly afraid. All of my family says I’m just very negative and lazy. My sister even asked if I’m thinking of leeching off of my parents forever. My mother says it’s my turn to take care of her, not otherwise. I’m 24. I was always that A+ kid.
As a kid (10 to 12-ish), I wanted to be a cop. My father told me no one respects female officers, what was I hoping for, to be molested and raped by male inmates? Because that is what would happen. Then, I hoped to be a doctor. My father said I couldn’t be a doctor. “I couldn’t be a doctor. My father couldn’t pay for me to be a doctor. Why would you be a doctor? I can’t pay. You can’t pay.” Back then I drew and wrote. Lots. I was good. Won awards and everything. I dreamed of being a writer. “Sheesh, will you keep your feet on the ground and stop dreaming? The book industry is too hard, you won’t make it. Settle for a normal job like everyone else”. It went on and on.
At 15 I started having anxiety problems. The very bad ones. My parents didn’t want to take me to a doctor. “What do you want to do?! Go to a neurologist? God, a psychiatrist? That is a doctor for lunatics, brain-damaged people! Are you brain-damaged? NO!” is what I was told. Eventually went to a neurologist, which claimed she wouldn’t treat my anxiety/depression because I was still at puberty.
After middle-school, my parents gave me a sudden ultimatum: if I wasn’t studying, I’d lose my health plan, they wouldn’t be able to afford doctors or treatments and I would suffer for every single thing. Either I find study fast or get a job. I went for the first, because back then, there were opportunities. I didn’t care what I was studying for. I just needed the health plan. But the suffocating constant thoughts of losing it + my parents’ vast pressure were cornering me like a wounded animal. So, at 19 I started having suicide thoughts. The anxiety had turned chronic. Depression was settling in fast.
I hopped from one study branch to another. I couldn’t quit now. I needed pills for my treatment. Therapy sessions. These were costly. I had to do anything to keep the health plan going. But I was just so unhappy that no matter how sedated I was, the depression kept getting worse and worse.
Eventually I got to college. Some career I hate; the bare thought of having to work on the area makes me cry at the bathroom stalls between classes. But, the health plan.. and the medication..
Which brought me to were I am. 24. Done with all subjects at college. Lost my health plan because of the maximum age it covered. To get a diploma I need traineeship. But the bare thought of working the IT area is simply too dreadful. My college classmates kept telling stories of how frequently they knew someone who was ridiculed/harassed because they messed up as a trainee. On top of that, the tendons of my hands frequently inflame from all the constant typing coding requires. I also have a chronic spine disfunction as a bonus, so I’m at constant pain.
I’m so scared of having to stay 8 hours a day in front of a computer, every single day of the week, typing and typing, with no one to interact to except for a machine, and my back would ache and ache but I would not be able to leave the chair, not able to leave the work, oh no, because I need the money, the money to pay for the pills, I now take 4 of them a day, I don’t think I can take it much longer.
Hey, I’m sorry to hear you are feeling like this. I hope you are still staying strong! I have a very similar background to you. I’m 25. I’ve been told by people close to me that I can’t pursue the careers I want because the chance of making it is too low (I was really good at art growing up, but art doesn’t pay the bills, I also was interested in health and nutrition and the world of science but I was told I wasn’t going to be lucky enough to be successful in any of that). So I went to school to get a computer science degree but I’m afraid of applying to jobs where I will have to write code every day, but the fear is not of spending my whole day typing code with no human interaction, it’s a fear of performance anxiety – producing working code that will work, and sounding dumb in front of coworkers and bosses. I’m not taking any medication because I believe they just make things worse. But I do resort to exercise as a way to cope with the anxiety and depression. You should look up the benefits of exercise on the brain, there are a lot of great videos about it on youtube and studies available online. And what I’ve realized is that the job you do shouldn’t define you – you are more than an IT worker, you are someone who has many interests and even though your dad told you you can’t pursue your interests, doesn’t mean you can’t keep doing them on the side! I know you have bills to pay and you feel stuck or it’s too late to go back and try, but you should find ways to enjoy your time off work by doing the things you love, maybe a side hobby that one day could become a business idea. Please look into different medications if you are needing 4 a day, or gradually coming off of them eventually and replacing it with 30 mins of exercise that would be safe for your back. I would also talk to someone at work to see if you could get ergonomic support at your desk (a specialist covered by your work, comes in to adjust your desk, chair to make it more comfortable). You probably need a doctors note to have it done. And remember, it’s not too late to switch jobs, you can always apply for a different job, one where you have more social interaction. I hope this helps.
29 year old here. I have become a burden to my brother and mother. I worked too hard in school and received the best pass possible and was one of the top 4 learners in grade 12. 2 of the other 3 are now chartered accountants and one did so well she worked at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. My father wasn’t honest with me and only after i worked so hard he told me i couldn’t go to university. He was also verbally abusive when he got drunk and it was very bad, I became a very scared person. I went and worked for an accounting firm for only 2 weeks after finishing school and at the end of the second week there was an induction. A chartered accountant came from Durban and started insulting me and for the whole day it went, I asked him to stop, the others laughed at me for that and it made things worse. He kept going and kept going. That was 12 years ago. I have been hiding in my room playing video games since then.
God i thought i was the only one. My family said that i’m just lazy but i knew that something wasn’t right with me. I had my first work back in 2010 and i got bullied a lot. It was hell but i couldn’t just stop because i needed the money. After four years i resigned. It was hard for me and my father didn’t help at all. He didn’t stop telling me that it was my fault that i’m nothing after 3 years. I found another job i’m still working, but every day i wake up i have that urge to cry because of the fear of being fired and the feeling that i’m not good enough. I never talk about this to anyone, i feel so embarrassed.
I feel the exact same way. I never talked about this to anyone too, cause I’m afraid people think I’m lazy. I’m starting a new job next week, after 7 years of working by myself, and i feel I’m gonna burst in tears all the time. Cant sleep, cant eat, cant enjoy my life, cause i feel anxiety and fear all the time. You are not alone.
Dear Lila, thank you and you are not alone. Let’s do our best to surpass this anxiety and fear. I know it’s really hard but it’s comforting to know that someone understand me, thank you again.
Me Too says
I thought I was the only one, too. I can’t believe this is a “real thing”. The terrible parts are that it is very embarrassing. People think that you are trying to evade responsibility, sponge off of others for life – and it is truly not that. They don’t “get” how you are “capable” and “bright” and yet cannot, somehow, for some elusive reason, function. I’ve always felt something was wrong with me, and to make it much worse, I’m constantly asked “What’s wrong with you?” Because here I am – without a job. Scared out of my wits. And telling people, as a grown person, that you are scared and get physically sick from being scared and not knowing what comes next is like trying to tell them you cannot live life because a mouse might appear at any moment. No one understands. Yet there it is. And it controls you.
I’m the same way. Fortunately, I have people in my life who understand. My mom (who is a PA) and my wife. They understand I literally suffer from anxiety and that I’m not faking it or being lazy. The fear, the anxiety, the constant desire to just ball up and cry.. it’s unbearable. I got fired from a job last month that I had for 2 years because I screwed up super badly. The last thing I want is for my children to suffer from this. But I can’t go back out there. I’ve suffered from this for years on end. Since I was 18 with my first job, really. And I did my best to put myself out there and work at it. And just.. work. But in the end, exactly what I’ve feared came to pass.
I have always been a very positive and strong person even though I suffered a lot from childhood.
I worked really hard to get a proper profession even though I didn’t get the chance to have university, but I was such a strong person and managed eventually to get a job in the financial world. I was so happy and wanted so badly to succeed, customers were family and I was so dedicated and loved my job but then I started realizing that everyone in the company was talking behind my back. Some colleagues would pretend to be my friends so they could get extra info and talk about me and my dreams. I used to share my life and how happy I was but people started staying that I was the most negative person and behind my back that I was such a show off, that I lived off my husbands money and I didn’t deserve anything.
There were rumors in the office, once a ‘colleague’ pretending being my friend told me that everyone in the office believed I was having an affair with my manager which was not true and I started to feel crushed and stressed and panic attacks and afraid to speak. Everything would down hill and I quit my job 2 years ago after 13 years working for them and now I’m so scared of going to another job, although I really love what I do. I’m getting worse and don’t know how to get out of it. I’m ashamed of being like this but have no energy to change and I know it’s also affecting my marriage. Sometimes I just want to hide, although deep down I want to go back to work and be that person I used to be. I want to be that professional woman I used to be but at the same time I can hear their voices saying my English is not good enough and making fun behind my back. Why did I become so weak and so afraid of interviews.
Guys idk what to do, just the same as all of you. I’m a 23 year old man. I have this great fear of getting a job. The thought of responsibility, the thought of being yelled at and told you’re stupid is scary as hell. The most i’ve lasted in a job was a year before my department shut down. That job i had was the only job i could tolerate because i had a great supervisor and co workers. They were more of my friends so i’d guess that was the reason i felt comfortable, but as you can see good things don’t last forever. I just recently quit my retail job for almost 2 months and haven’t had a job since. I feel pathetic. This happens to be every day, it’s a constant battle and no one seems to understand (at least the people around me). This fear i have is ruining my life! When i start looking for a job i feel uneasy, once i get the job is a battle every day. It gets so bad that if i’m at work my mind becomes fuzzy and i can’t think straight, all i wanna do is run away. The feelings i get when i have a job is unbearable. I’ve had many traumatic experiences in a lot of jobs that increased my fear even further. The crazy part is i haven’t told anyone of my failure at work because of embarrassment. I’m ashamed of myself. Due to all that my self esteem is lower than ever and it keeps getting worse. I know there is something wrong with me and i wish i could fix it because the more time passes by, the more i can’t take the pain. I would rather not let this pain keeping going because i know at one point in my life it’s going to be the end of me. I feel so useless and stupid. Not long ago i told my mom i have depression and that wasn’t easy and she set me up with a therapist and i’m scared of what they might say. I really hope i made the right decision because i want my condition or whatever i have to get better.
Hey now, you are not useless or worthless, even if you don’t feel that way right now. You are very young still and these feelings don’t define you. You did at some point work and enjoyed it – so it is possible for you to find that again. It takes time. Don’t try to keep up with the Kardashians or the Joneses because it will not serve you well. You do you. Ignore all the rest. If you can take some time to think about what gets you around fun people which sounds like you enjoyed about your old job, maybe to hairdressing school. These are just ideas. Maybe you just need to get out of your own way and start something that will be opposite of what you have been doing. Look at what is possible in small steps and try not to compare yourself with others. I suffer too but have had a bit more time in age than you to learn some coping skills.
Afraid of multiple rejections when i tried to find a job. Sometimes i feel really useless.
I developed a knee injury three years ago due to unsafe work conditions. I had quit that job, and in my second job I was regularly abused and belittled by my manager and store director. After a year of it I finally quit, and the store director was fired for embezzlement and sexual misconduct half a year later. I’m unable to work due to the constant fear of future situations and reliving the trauma of the situation. I’ve actually applied to jobs hoping the confidence would push me through enough to get the job and function but now I’m unable to pick up phones or go outside for regular tasks. I did not know this was an actual fear people can develop, and I’m relieved that I’m not alone in this.
I had an issue with being bullied in school. Upon leaving my school after exams I was helped into joining a college course, the course was an industry which I really wanted to pursue in since such a young age. Once joining college I applied for job after job and I was getting nowhere. Through the struggle I eventually got a 2 day trial. The first day went great, everyone was nice, I managed the day with no problems, it really made me feel positive. Day 2, I was paired with 2 other candidates who had also applied, the 2 females seemed close friends. Throughout the day they both seemed to treat me like dirt, talking to actual staff about me and mocking me, I really hid myself from the situation. Unfortunately I didn’t get the job and the other females did. I later applied for other jobs, still getting nowhere and have since never tried again.
As months passed my only friends began to distance themselves as they obviously had the idea “I don’t want to work”. This has destroyed the later years of my teen life. I’m now 21, I can’t find anyone to talk to who understands, all I feel like doing is giving in.
Darryl Campbell says
I know where you are coming from. Trust me you are not alone.
Please be kind to yourself. It sounds to me like you need some self love in a big way. Please, even if it seems strange, change one thing each day that replaces a negative with a positive. Then add more each day. So if you say in your head: “I hate myself”, acknowledge it like: “Oh here I am talking and about myself again” and counter it with “actually I like myself when I smile or..” You get the idea. When you think people talk about you, acknowledge the thought or feeling: “Oh here I am again thinking people are out to get me”. Counter with: “I prefer my own company right now whilst I get better or..”
I’m 25 years old.. my mom just told me to get a job.. Never had one in my whole life. I was always afraid of having a job and I was afraid of going to get a drivers license. I’m so afraid of this. While climbing on rooftops and jumping around comes easy, hell even talking to girls comes easy, but everything related to adult stuff, I wuss out. I think I’ll turn homeless. Salut from Slovenia.
I’m going on 32 this month. I lost my job of 3 years. I got a new job just to get fired 4 days later. I still live with my family and they are always on me about finding another job. It’s not so much getting a job I fear, it’s getting yelled at in messing up and getting fired I’m afraid of.
Hey now, heads up. Tune your folks out for a sec. And focus on healing. You are not defined by one job that fired you. They missed your great potential. So what. Next. You got this. Be brave. And tune these people out that give you anxiety about it. Next job will be different. You don’t have to go in thinking you will fail. Because you haven’t in any way. Read some good stuff about people that made it big by failing first a hundred times. You got this. And besides, you did hold a prior job for 3 years, so you know you can do it.
My situation is almost the same. And i am 25 years old as well. Salut from Lithuania.
Being a highly sensitive introvert was what started it – then add to that the pressures of today’s crazy work expectations – all catering to extroverts, also mean bosses and competitive workers…and the phobias started to develop. Fear of bosses, fear of colleagues, fear of clients – it’s debilitating alright. Working from home was the solution for me – not perfect but 90% less stress. Recommended reading:
The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World, Laney Psy.D., Marti Olsen
Joseph Puma says
If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of work are you doing from home? I will elaborate about my situation later tonight on this thread, but basically I have been a glass cutter shop / foreman for almost 30 years, at the last place for 6 years until business got slow and they fired me two weeks ago. The occupation is stressful and demanding, and at 56 I need to find myself something else to do but I am so anxietized. My last employers not only laid me off to save money, they wanted me to sign a paper saying I quit voluntarily in return for a week’s vacation pay, which I of course refused to do. Now I am sweating getting the unemployment, knowing this company will stop at nothing to get out of paying it. This ergophobia I have is real, and I didn’t know there was a definition of it until earlier today. Thanks for sharing.
I thought i was the only one feeling this. I knew something was wrong with me and i knew it wasn’t laziness as my family thinks. They’ve always made fun of me joking around saying i’m a lazy one because i don’t like working. I would laugh along with them but deep inside i wanted to cry scream and tell them i’m not lazy, there’s just something wrong with me. But i know they wouldn’t understand! I think i have OCD along with other mental issues. I have never been diagnosed, i’ve been wanting to go get checked but i’m scared and i feel embarrassed to talk to the doctor. I’ve always had a problem talking to others since i was a kid. I remember going to school not having friends because i was too shy and all the way to high school it remained the same. I had to hide in the bathroom at lunch time because I didn’t have friends to sit with. Later on when it was time to get a job after high school it was terrifying especially because i had to drive. It took me a while to learn how to drive even now i still get nervous and in my mind i think I’m going to crash. Well it has always been hard for me to keep a job, just the thought of being around other people or talking to people makes me really nervous. The longest job i kept was 4 yrs in a chicken plant. I was so proud of myself but not really at the same time because i would always leave early. It was just hard being around people even though I already knew them well. I got a new job as cleaning cabins, it’s not that bad because i work by myself but the feeling comes over me again maybe because it is a new job. I feel depressed, scared, nervous and nauseous. The only thing i hate about the job is that i’m constantly thinking i’m not doing it right and at the end of the day someone comes and checks the cabin and tells me there’s something i didn’t clean too well and it makes me wanna run out of there. Idk why it’s just a feeling i can’t really explain, all i want to do is be home where i feel safe.
I’m absent today because I’m afraid and I don’t know why, we almost have the same experience since I was a kid.
I have been working as a caregiver for years now off and on. I HATE the feeling I get in the morning or night before work. I have this deep depression and fear. Im afraid of commiting to a job thinking this is my lot for life and crave an exciting job like being a screen actor or theatre actress. Im 46 and we have 3 kids. We live in the Bay Area so money coming in gets drained on bills. I wish I didnt have to work at all let alone the piddling hours caregiving when I accept shifts. The problem is Im AFRAID to accept shifts. After work I always feel quite good but the initial push TO work sucks. I get SO angry with myself but I dont think Im lazy. Maybe I am I dont know but I dont have money and its IMPOSSIBLE to find insurance paid talk therapy in San Jose. I wish I was brave like everyone else out there.
Hi! I have the same problem. Can I talk to you? I want someone to talk to. I can’t bring this matter to anyone even with my parents because I’m afraid. I’m the eldest among my siblings and it really adds to the pressure.
Jasmine nessa says
Omg I feel the exact same way!!
I just hate myself and my life for being like this.. so much that I just want it to end.. but i cant.. it’s like i’ve been tortured every day.
I feel you man and you’re not alone.
Parminder Kaur says
Same situation, I am working in a legal office where I am always afraid of doing new things. I am having lack of confidence. Moreover, I always say that I can not do this thing or that work. I make my mind in advance, that if I have that work, maybe I will not be able to do that. I do not know how to overcome that fear.
I am going through the exact same situation. My friend and I don’t know what to do about it. My life has become miserable.
Hi, I used to be able to work full time and multiple jobs pretty easily. I worked at coffee shops, retail, a gas station. Pretty average jobs. I went to school to be a cosmetologist and everything was fine. I was working mainly cutting and coloring hair, having so much fun doing it. It was pretty much the funnest thing work wise that I had ever done. I had so much freedom, so much potential building up. But then when I was 29 I had a really bad stroke. I lost the use of my right arm and right hand so that was it for doing hair. I’ve had 4 brain surgeries 3 biopsies and 1for a resection to remove a small lesion in my brain. Yay, good times lol. That was 9 years ago.
I’ve not worked even once since then, haven’t gone back to school, and have gone through countless bouts of depression. I am also on seizure meds, one which also treats depression as well as seizures. I just looked up if there was a phobia for getting a job and found this site. I couldn’t believe that something came up and that there actually is a phobia for this. I thought I was just lazy.
But I did just make an appointment with my doctor and hopefully she can point me in the right direction.
It’s also a terrifying thought to be around people in a job situation with my right hand/arm forever to be paralyzed.
Is it normal to feel nervous when job searching, I need to know.
Yes it’s normal, because in your mind you want to make sure you’re comfy with what you choose. Not just about the money. While job hunting you get the “what if” things in your mind and that builds up your confidence a bit.
I used to work fine until the first time I got fired. Then I got fired every 3 months until I became so scared of being fired or meeting a superior that I can’t sleep. The only way for me to sleep is no job. As soon as there is an interview or a possible job I could do, the insomnia starts over ruining my chances for a positive day of work. I have my stomact tied in nots, I’m hot and I have a dry mouth as soon I hear about work.
I’m really close to bankruptcy, medication don’t help with the insomnia, I’ve been in therapy for years.
Is there a way you could claim some disability for a while? During that space of time you could go back to school and study something else that will direct you onto a different path? Perhaps do some online work?
Jake Harris says
I’m so glad I’m not alone, and I feel so happy to find people sharing stories I totally relate to.
For as long as I could remember, I’ve been afraid of work. I don’t know why. Even in the First Grade, I was afraid to do my homework. I can remember struggling to answer questions on the homework that I physically knew the answer to. When I was a kid, I was once told to move clothes from my dirty clothes bin to the laundry room. This sounds totally stupid to most people, but I was so averse to work that I literally pretended to do it; I made the motions and pretended to pick up the clothes, physically walked to the laundry room, and pretended to throw them into the laundry pile! Even now as I look back on that, I think to myself, “How crazy do you have to be to pretend to do the laundry when it takes just as much effort to just do it?” My life is full of examples like that. I don’t get any physical reactions to the idea of work, like heart rate or trouble breathing or anything. But I do dread it. I get this very uncomfortable feeling in my chest and really strongly that makes me avoid it at all costs–typical of anxiety. I might seem distressed once in a while, but I kind of learned to keep it to myself because people just think I’m lazy. I’m not. I know that now. I’m literally afraid of work. There’s some block that prevents me from doing it. Anything that involves work gets me super anxious. I can’t even play video games that require work. Like, when Minecraft came out, all my friends and I played on a private server. They were interested in building their massive castles and fun creations while I just built my dirt hut necessary for survival and went cave-diving (back when you could explore underground for hours). I was told by my best friend that I wasn’t playing Minecraft right–MINECRAFT! I am afraid of work even in video games!
I remember my first two jobs. The first one was working as a Sous Chef at a restaurant in the small town I lived in. I was still in high school, mind you. Four days after I started work, I quit. I had the same anxiety I had before as a kid, but now it was ten times worse. My next job at a Pizza Hut gave me the same anxiety, but at least I stayed for 6 months. I was always so visibly anxious they let me go. My family was disappointed, but I didn’t care. I felt so relieved, as I was free from job obligations. A few years later, I worked at a Cub Scout Camp and actually really enjoyed it. Not sure why, but I excelled. Maybe it’s because it didn’t feel like a job? Don’t know, but I ended up being the Program Director by the end of the summer because the first one got injured and had to stay in the hospital, and I was responsible for over a thousand kids.
Later on, my Taiwanese girlfriend said that she had to go back to Taiwan because her school visa was expiring. I said, “What airplane food should I get?” and I moved to Taiwan with her. Her parents were thrilled and offered me a job being a co-owner of their cram school (a glorified tutor center to supplement the super competitive education system in most Asian countries). This one is weird. At first, I was super anxious about it. The first few months after every class I would need to decompress and get rid of the anxiety that was overwhelming me. But after about 6 months I had grown completely comfortable in the classroom. I even looked forward to teaching some classes (there were others that gave me work anxiety, but these were far and few in between). I think it’s because I was my own boss and I didn’t answer to anyone except myself (and my wife’s parents, but I was given free reign over how to prepare classes, as I was the most-fluent in English. So as long as my students kept wanting to come to class they didn’t really bother me about how I ran my classes).
My girlfriend is now my wife, and we finally got her green card (it was a long, expensive, and stressful process). We moved back to the US on Halloween of last year, and a month later I got a job working as a Urine Specimens Collector at a clinic. My first week, I was tearing my hair out. But after that, I got more comfortable; it was an easy job, I usually had a lot of time on my hands, and I had good insurance to cover the expensive medication I can’t go without or else my colon explodes and I have to get it removed. For the last 6 months I’ve enjoyed my job. But now I’m getting that really bad work anxiety again. My boss is now asking me to do some extra duties. It’s mostly just organizing reports and sending them to other clinics. But my anxiety is as bad as it’s ever been. I keep getting these super convincing thoughts to quit my job and start somewhere else. But I know that I have a good job, good pay (for what I do, which is mostly sit there and do nothing until a patient comes in that needs a drug screen), and great insurance. My wife and I are having a baby, and we need me to be employed, especially since my wife won’t be working once the baby comes. The addition of these new tasks overwhelms me, even though they are simple. There’s no logic to my anxiety regarding this. It’s something nobody understands, so I just keep it to myself as best as I can. Not sure what to do. I wish I could be a stay-at-home dad and take care of our child that’s coming. Unfortunately, I can’t. I have to provide for my family, and I am irrationally afraid of that. I don’t know why. I don’t understand my fear, my anxiety, that uncomfortable throe of emotion that sits at the top of my chest and thrashes about, when it comes to doing this very normal and essential thing called work. I’m upset that I can’t get past what other people think is a very simple block. I hate that. I want to change it, but it just seems impossible.
I just want you to know that what you wrote here seems to completely match up with my situation.
I won’t go into as much detail as you did, but just know that it felt good to know that I wasn’t the only one out there suffering from this.
Thank you for your words.
Thank you for sharing this. So much of what you said is exactly how I feel and think. I don’t understand why something so simple gives me so much anxiety while other people just accept it. It is an irrational aversion that seems so big in my brain. I’m intelligent, talented, and personable, yet absolutely terrified to take on the responsibility of any significant job. I have battled depression since I was a child and anxiety as an adult. My anxiety relates to taking on responsibilities that feel too big for me. It can get so bad that eventually every task feels too big for me. At its worst, small responsibilities will send me into obsessive thoughts of dying. That’s how badly it has been for me in the past. I’m in a master’s program right now trying to become a teacher and I am terrified, but still trying to figure this out.
Is paranoia part of this too, especially if someone abruptly resigned a job because of bullying that caused not only long term (more then five years) mental stress and anxiety, but had for more then a year or so, caused physical symptoms of stress and anxiety, constant tension headaches, migraines, migrating numbness, depression, etc. I resigned abruptly and I hope my bully isn’t irrational enough to try to retaliate against me, even though I’m no longer there to be harassed. It’s only been a short time since I resigned, but I am terrified at the thought of applying, finding and starting a new job. I also dread the thought of not only a new employer finding out, but myself finding out that I really am as incompetent as irrationally angry coworker made me feel.
Me Too says
You are not alone in this. Tell the interviewer that, while you’d rather remain discreet for obvious reasons, there were some management challenges, difficulties where you worked, and you didn’t see a way clear through protocol to resolving the difficulties, so you decided it best to remove yourself for your own well-being. Frame it as a structural problem for them (as it surely is if there is no proper avenue to resolution), and a decisive move on your part, but don’t complain or be bitter. Assure them that in healthy situations, you would certainly do what you can to resolve difficulties – but sadly, this was not a situation in which that was possible. (You might even say: So mediation measures within a company, and how well a company manages internal structure, is of importance to me – and I value communicativeness and respect. This gives the interviewer a chance to respond and assuage any concerns, also to realize that you are not going to put up with any shenanigans in the future). While you valued working there for some years, it became apparent that your dedication might be best put to use elsewhere.
Thank you guys for sharing. I am from the Philippines. I graduated with higher grades and awards as Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering. I have felt the same. I thought I was the only one experiencing this. I am so freaking out every time I think of going to work but I really do wanted to work but I can’t. I feel sick about it. Just thinking about it makes me nauseous and I feel like throwing up. I can’t understand myself anymore. I always wanted to be alone, work alone. I really feel something is wrong with me. Thanks be to Yahweh that I have a very understanding husband.
Renu Shah says
Our finances need a big push yet I dread to commit to a 9 to 5 job. I also procrastinate of starting my own business from home for I fear I will not look after home and family as well. Please guide.
I always get panic attack when someone offering me a job.
Now, I’m working at home as a freelancer but my parents keep asking me to apply a job outside. I’m so scared and I keep avoid it. I’m so depressed and it’s difficult working as a freelancer too because I can’t concentrate and focus.
Have you considered trying co-working office? It’s a good way to slowly expose yourself to working amongst others, without committing to certain workplace. You could start off by going for couple of hours once a week and increase it steadily. In co-work you can choose whether you want to chat with people or maybe go out for lunch with them, or you can pretend you just need place to work for couple of hours and not interact with anyone. You don’t have to give up being a freelancer and working at home (it has a lot of benefits), you can make it more social with finding a place outside your home for couple of days/hours a week.
I would also suggest getting some therapy for anxiety (cognitive-behavioural therapy is probably best), it’s very treatable and you don’t have to be stuck at home for the rest of your life.
I really thought I was the only one. I always felt like something was wrong with me. I don’t know if it’s social anxiety, ergophobia or both. I’ve never been tested for either. The simplest things were always hard for me. Answering the door, introducing myself to someone new, working, etc. All throughout high school while everyone around me got part-time jobs, I never got one. I tried to volunteer for things, but would always freak out at the last minute and back out. When I was in college I finally convinced myself to do some volunteer work and got a summer job once, but there was always this looming dread that overcame me every time I knew I had to go back. Even if I had an okay day, I could never get rid of that feeling. Now I’m graduated from college, and I have limited work and volunteer experience. I keep applying for jobs, and I get some interviews but don’t get the job. I’m always relieved when they tell me I didn’t get it. I did apply for this one job and I got it. I can’t even explain what happened but I could not stop crying. I got this pain in my stomach. The night before I was going to go the job I started to hyperventilate. I couldn’t sleep. And the whole time I was there I was on the verge of tears. I was nauseous. My palms were all sweaty. I have never experienced anything like that. I didn’t even make it a whole week on that job. My family was really understanding, but deep down I feel like they’re disappointed in me. I’m the only one in my family to have a college degree, yet I’m also the only one without a job. It’s hard because I can feel people judging me. I feel like they just think I’m lazy. But I desperately want a job. I want to be independent and make my own money. But I am just so terrified all the time. I don’t want what happened the last time to happen again. I don’t know how to overcome this.
I feel the same way that you do as far as a fear of going to work. Several years ago I worked for an organization. My supervisor promoted me twice and then started harassing me out of the blue. I never saw the harassment coming. Since then, I’ve moved from one job to the next with gaps in between. It was tough to really assess whether or not the organization was a good place for me. What confused me even more was the fact that many colleagues/stakeholders praised my work.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to overcome this also. I think it helps that we’re both dealing with a similar issue.
We really share the same experience i almost cry reading your comment.. especially the family part where in “theyre very understanding but deep inside you know theyre very dissapointed.” In my case it gets worst because ive mistaken my previous career as not my passion not knowing that the career i think im passionate about is heading me in a much stressful feeling for me and my family.
Marius Bernard says
I see much of myself in what you write.. may I ask you? What would you do if anything was possible and we lived in a world where money was not a thing anymore. You had everything you needed and could do and have anything you wished for. What would you do?
I feel the same way and experienced and still experience it now. I’m so depressed but don’t have someone to talk to about this. I feel that they would not understand me and would just laugh at me. I need someone to talk to.
I honestly have felt like I have something wrong with me whether it be work related anxiety, social anxiety, mental illness OR I am just a lazy bones! I’ve had an aversion to having to leave my home to go to school or work since kindergarten! I’ve always missed many, many days of school and jobs, I’ve had many jobs, because of the intense dread and physical sickness that I have felt/feel because of having to go to work or school. I graduated high school, thank God, and I graduated college and have my nursing license but, I don’t work! I WANT to work and I WANT desperately to be/feel “normal” and to make my own $ and stand on my own 2 feet BUT, I just find that I can’t shake the aversion I have to working! It IS a phobia, no doubt! I am NOT lazy! Am I crazy….well, that’s still up for debate I suppose! I never realized that I’m not alone for feeling this way! My father was the same exact way and SO was his father! I always called it laziness, and those 2 WERE lazy in their own way! I recently applied for several jobs because it’s just not fair anymore for my husband to work so hard while I don’t! I HAVE to make $ due to being on an expensive medication and funding this is necessary BUT drains/takes away funds from other things needed! I am hoping and talking myself up that I’ll be able to keep this job! Everyone feels as though I am lazy and just opposed to working because I feel entitled but, that’s really not the case! I’m also tired of having to say I’m sick, I’m sick all of the time when I just can’t make myself go to work! Yes, I feel sick emotionally and physically but it’s only because of this work/social phobia. Trying to explain this to people is impossible! Everyone wants to think the worst of you (me) all of the time and not listen to my true feelings. That’s how I feel anyway! I’m wondering if disability is something to look into? I really don’t know what to do or where to look for help! Like I said….this has been happening since I started elementary school and has only gotten worse! Thank you for listening and sharing your life experiences and challenges!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I see now that i too started this phobia back in high school. I am currently really struggling to go to, and stay, at work. I’ve recently been throwing up, full blown panic attacks, and don’t have the energy to complete the tasks I need to, let alone find the motivation. I have lost many jobs, or left bc i was close to termination due to absences or leaving early. It has caused so many arguments between myself and my husband. He thinks its pure laziness. Or that i’m chasing a dream job i’ll never find, and never content with the one I have. Today he had to pick me up early and I think, or at least hope and pray, that he saw it’s so much more.
If you have any advice, or want to talk so that maybe we could help each other, I would enjoy that.
Thank you for being so open and honest. It really helps me to know others can relate and are going through the same struggle.
Guilherme Henrique says
Hi, I don’t even know how to start… I guess I should start at high school.
When I was a High School student, I was very very popular, I’ve had good grades while also being the funniest guy in the room but also very reliable, my classmates would always pick me to be the leader, and I loved that popularity, I felt like I was destined to have a great life. Now, I live in Japan, but I’m a migrant, and my compatriots that also live in japan developed kind of a “nation within nation” phenomenon, I’ve went to a brazilian school where they taught us little to no Japanese, so we never once interacted with japanese people.
After high school, I was supposed to go back to Brazil, but I met this girl and I fell in love, so I decided to stay here and be with her and live our lives together, I do know that it’s such a risky and dumb thing to do though, but I guess we just don’t choose what we long for, and what I long for is to be with her…
So, now that highschool is over, it’s time for me to get a job.. and that’s when I realized I was different, most of my classmates, who looked up to me, got jobs rather effortlessly, but I struggled. It took me about 5 months to get a job, not because I couldn’t find one, but mostly because I didn’t want to find one, I would be fearful of the idea of working, I would make excuses and tell my family I went to an interview but couldn’t get the job because I lived too far away or something, all excuses so that I couldn’t start working… It came a time though where I couldn’t postpone it anymore, my family was getting frustrated and I had to start working.
I found a job, and working wasn’t all that bad for about 2 weeks, after that I started to feel this very bad feeling, like something was stuck on my throat and that my lungs were in a state of perpetual emptiness, I’d feel like I wanted to hide away from everything and everyone. I quit the job after only 2 months… When I left, it was the best feeling in the world, I felt like I was finally free, and I went by without working for 9 months…
After 9 months of being unemployed, my family, like every good family would, started pressuring me to start working again, the pressure sucked but my desire to NOT work was too great… But then they told me I would have to go back to Brazil if I didn’t work, it was at this time that I realized that meant leaving my high school girlfriend, who I’ve been dating for three years now, behind. And I just, can’t lose her like this. I love her with every drop of blood in my veins, and I shall overcome everything I need to so that we can stay together… So, I decided to get a job.
After only a week searching, I found it, this time my job is easier and I work less hours, but after 8 weeks of working, I’m feeling the same things again… Fear… Basically, I feel fearful… I dread the idea of going back to my work and having to spend 9 hours in that place, and then having to do that 5 times a week… Often I remember the tale of a doomed ancient greek man, whose divine punishment was to roll a boulder up a mountain, just to see it roll down. And he was to repeat the process for all eternity… This idea that I will have to work, whatever job, for at least 40 years is torturing me… I hate it…
I want to meet you all. You all sound like the most interesting people. We all have to find our right paths in life. I know I will have to start my own business. I like the idea of investing in other people’s ideas and hanging back to collect my check. I want to inspire others and make a profit. I don’t like the idea of working, but I like the idea of increasing my income. The word work triggers me.
I am also facing the same problem. I want to work I am always a top performer but whenever i switch my job i have this problem.
I am a very negative person and day by day life is getting very hard for me. I have loans to repay and i am going in depression.
When i read about you all i feel very happy.
I feel someone is there who understands me.
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I have had issues with work for nearly all my life. I am six weeks into my new job and I am having so many problems with my memory and the amount of mistakes I make. I have been told off many times now and have been told to get my head on right. It’s been like this with every job no matter how familiar I am with something or how many times I am instructed. It’s like my mind is so clouded I cannot think or remember straight. Not sure if anxiety is the cause or effect but I am depressed in my new job and have contemplated crashing my vehicle on the way to work because I dread it that much. I cannot quit because I have no job lined up at the moment. I am thankful I got but I can’t help feeling like this. My job feels like a prison and I cannot see myself happy until I get a job where I can work by myself, away from the stresses of dealing with people. I am so desperate right now to get something like that.
So damn desperate…
You need to keep calm and stay focused. Have a to do book to write everything you need to do each day. Also keep a notebook where you write your notes of everything you learn each day. Hope you are doing well.
I am in the exact state of mind, feeling really down at work. During he first month, it was the happiest time at work ever. Then suddenly two other managers have resigned. Since i am the only Lead Manager left, everyone expect me to fill in the previous manager’s shoes and be like him and not be ME at work. I am still on my probation and i have one more month left for my last evaluation. I feel like i’m gonna f***ed it all up.
I get nervous when dealing with clients both in Thai and English. I start to make careless mistakes all the time from being anxious. I couldn’t think straight. But i always try to seek alternative to feel better and be better.
My wife suggested me to meditate and just focus on my breath and try to clear my head for a sec.
There is a feeling of me quitting my job but like you said i have no other jobs lined up for me. So i have to keep pushing forward no matter what
hi im a young girl from america i just got my ged in april of 2016 and now im starting my first real job and im terrified of it most nights i cant even sleep because of the fear of driving to work and not being at work on time and doing something new i often want to run away and hide or cry or quit ive even thought of death and i havent been there but a week its really taking a toll on me how can i help this ive done everything ive even tried coming out of my shell and socializing but it hasnt help its only made things worse because im always afraid im going to say the wrong thing or offend someone
Hey, I’m like 23 yo and have just graduated from my master’s degree. I have never worked entirely in my life and im so afraid to look for a job now. In fact, I really just want a part time job where I can get some money to buy the things that I want.
However, it’s kinda mandatory for me to think about my future due to family and social pressure.
I’m also lost now, as no one understands me and I just dunno what to do. I have social anxiety too in which I care too much about what ppl think of me.
Anyway, just remember that you are not alone and I’m sure you will be fine after a few weeks of adapting to the work lifestyle. I guess the only thing I can say is just be yourself and keep focusing on your work. Don’t forget to be positive and smile and you definitely won’t offend anyone because im sure you are a lovely person.
Thank God, I thought i was the only one having this issue.Please some one tell me is there any cure for these?i have always wanted to do something for my family but whenever i come close to the day of joining in a new company i start panicking ..quit a few jobs because of this.i have cried a lot thinking about this issue all these years.i finished my graduation in 2006 and till now i dnt have a good job.Next day i am gonna attend an interview but still having this phobia .No apetite, mal nourishment feels like something rolling inside my stomach ,breathlessness all things same here as mates have described above..Nobody is ever gonna understand this issue thats what i thought ,but now i am a little relieved..i also was thinking about going away or committing suicide because nobody is ever gonna understand me..If there is a cure or a solution for this guys please do post your valuable responses here because i dont think meditation or therapy is gonna cure this.
Hello! I’m from Philippines and have been experiencing the phobia for some time now. I graduated from a degree course last year, after graduating I went on a vacation (it was my parent’s gift so I can’t say no to their offer and cos I wanted it too). After vacation, I had spent the rest of my days looking for a job and it took me 4 months before getting my very first job. I was so happy that time because finally after years of studying I can now give back to my parents and that it’s my time now to be independent. But unfortunately after working for almost a month, I have been experiencing the symptoms stated above. One day i went home crying because i think that i might have reached the end of the road and then I decided to tell my parents that I’m going to resign. I told them that I’m not happy with what I’m doing, but my parents didn’t support the idea. Instead, they nagged about how coward i am and that I should only quit unless the company says so. I was so devastated that time, i don’t know where to go or where to turn to. I felt like everything is falling apart. After that moment I had finally decided to tender my resignation. No one can stop me, not even my family. After resigning i thought that i should find a job that would really fit me and where i can be happy and comfortable to work. Luckily i was able to found one not less than a week after i resigned. When i thought that everything now is falling into place, that’s when the phobia starts doing its thing. I was to sign the contract when i felt this sudden fear that i might not be able to perform well in the job that is being offered. That time i was panicking and i feel like i was detached from the reality, i even rang my mom and told her that i cant go on with this job and told her different excuses. And i did not continue with the contract signing. I left the building as soon as i can. The next day, my aunt offered me a job and i told myself that “well maybe i should give it a shot” since i’d be working with my aunt and i thought that she can be of help whenever i need one. But the same thing happened again. i did not continue with the offer. Days after, jobs were offered but then i refused them all because the fear has been consuming me. I started to become aloof, I rarely go out of the house and bond with friends. Days, weeks and months have passed and here I am, still got no job and still depending on my parents. My family thinks that it’s normal and I’m just being lazy. I can’t even open up this issue with them because i already know they’re thoughts regarding with this matter. I really want to work, I really do. But I just can’t. I’m scared of what’s going to happen outside my comfort zone. Can some give any suggestions on how i can conquer this fear? :( :( thanks in advance
I feel you, we are in the same boat..
Hi Louisa. I’m also from the Philippines and every now and then, I’m experiencing the same fear. I always feel that I’m just lazy until I tried to google “I’m scared to go to office” and stumble upon this. I’ve no idea that such phobia exists. I always thought that I’m just lazy. Well, maybe I am but being scared is a different thing. How are you doing right now?
I feel happy to know I am not the only one. I have completed my graduation and also post graduation from reputed institutes and bagged the best dream job and I thought that’s it now I will never have to look back. Few months into my job and I dread it like anything. Any new challenge scares me, I always feel like I am not good enough, I am always nervous when I talk to my boss and due to nervousness I screw up even the most simple matters. I always feel I am being judged and that I am not a good resource. I don’t know why I am having such negative feelings as my job pays me well and it’s a reputed company to begin your career with. Every morning I get anxious to go to work and count days for the weekend. I am afraid of making mistakes and getting judged by everyone. Someone please help me!
I’m a guy from India, suffering from the same issue. I completed my Bachelors degree in Computer Science and was jobless for 2 years(Joined a start-up as an intern and left it after 3 months), before I got an opportunity to pursue a Masters Degree from one of the best institutes of India in 2013. Got internship for 6 months in a reputed IT company of India, converted it into a high paying IT job through hard work at Bangalore.
Afterwards, my life was destroyed by my manager. He insulted me a lot, never valued me and as a result, I started missing deadlines due to stress. Even during the weekends I kept thinking “what if I don’t complete this task on time”? Later, due to high stress and anxiety, resigned in Oct 2015.Returned to my hometown.
Since that day, I rejected 2-3 jobs, went to a college as an assistant professor(left that job in 7 days). I’m specially afraid of IT jobs(they remind me of my horrible days at Bangalore). Today itself rejected another IT job offered to me at my hometown.
Once again, I’m dependent on my parents after losing a wonderful job. I have an education loan too(due to my Masters degree), which my parents are paying. Never had a girlfriend(even during my job), no hope nowadays.
Every day is difficult. As few others have written above, me too is drifting towards jobs that are lower than my calibre. People keep advising me, but they never understand my real issue…
Would love to get in touch with people here who have same issues with me. I really need help.
Javed Iqbal says
Dear Ruchir, Thank you so much for expressing and sharing your experience. I have same issues. I am so weak internally. I cannot deal with people. I am very friendly and gregarious but unfortunately all my mangers are very strict. Its my first official job. Before that i did internship. My manager during internship used to yelled at me. She was also very rude. Now my Manager in current company never appreciates me. I try my best and i am doing very well. All my collegues support me and they admit that i am doing good. My manager once asked me to try to reply soon to his emails, messages. Now i reply to his messages even if its late night. Instead of appreciating, he said to me that dont reply me late at night :( i am thinking to resign. But i have a fear that what my parents will say that i am such a loser. I have done MBA from A very expensive university of Pakistan. All my friends are always guiding me to be strong but i am not that strong. I am always worried about getting insulted. Thank god i am not alone. I can understand your feelings. But one thing i must say is that we are the ones who let our fears grow and we have to stop it from growing. We cannot survive in this world with this fear. We have so much talent in us that is suppressed by such bad managers. This article is so nice and covers everything that i feel.
Guys you have so much to offer with your education. I am very proud of you I have a work phobia due to my anxiety I have passed up so many jobs I can barely afford to keep my home. My anxiety is so bad all I do is sweat so bad and my eyes are so dilated everyone thinks I am an addict I sometimes don’t know what to do I get sick. I feel like I am having a heart attack if I don’t fight this soon i know I will be homeless soon.
I am very emotional and sensitive to what others say to me. Thank God I work from home and able to generate money so that I may take care of myself, and some. I still struggle with this phobia in public but, this is due to low self esteem. I am a visual person and I always worry about how I will look in others eyes. Of course, we all want people to accept us but, I just have to stop caring about what others think of me and I will be alright.
If its okay with you what kind of work do you do at home im from Kenya and im really struggling
I’m Manik from Pune. I wouldn’t say I have the same issue/s as you but I am a anxiety sufferer for the past 7-8 years. Firstly I would like to offer my consolation; stress, anxiety, rejection etc are truly horrible things and cause tremendous pain and misery. I know that. It’s the constant overactive mind, self-judgement that really cause you to undermine yourself, sell yourself short, keep yourself trapped etc etc.
There are ways you can try to fight this, although it may be hard. Actually that’s about it.. its hard and we fear anything that’s hard and causes discomfort. We would rather remain stuck in this agony and misery than push out to achieve something that’s more than the minuscule tantrums running in our heads. We always know the way out, I’m sure you do too.. Its run in your head countless times but unfortunately its just been there. The problem is no action or execution of things that we want/ need to do.. Its again another fear and the only way to fight fear is to face it.. not think about how to face it, read 10 books about facing it, ask opinions about facing it.. just face it.. be there, aware while facing it.. There will be discomfort, just accept it and keep facing that too.. and you’ll slowly wonder what all the fuss was about.. Because that’s what the mind is ‘one giant lump of fuss’.. all you have to do is realize and take conscious action.
I cant really put my money on this however, since these are things I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t done myself. Fear is a pretty strong force. Anyway, This is what I believe intuitively and am sure if done consistently and diligently you should be able to see changes in yourself and eventually get back to your interest/passion mode and have the job and life of your dreams.
Cheers and Good Luck.
I’m sadly watching the bit by bit destruction of my husband’s due to a very similar situation. Now depressed and suffering with side effects of medication, his great dream job in jeopardy. Why? Problems at work. Why? He knows his job, was always the “go to guy”. Had all the confidence in the world. Suddenly a change in management and WAM – so long happiness hello dread! I’m a concerned wife and love him dearly and I refuse!!! refuse to allow him to self destruct… which is how I came to this site to obtain information to help him, helps me too so I can understand what he’s experiencing. I can’t fix him, I’m only on the sidelines but hope that I can somehow coach him back to his own sanity, which he deserves and so do you my friend.
The GOOD NEWS for you is that you realize exactly the events that put up a roadblock in your life and
you are on your way to repairing your road and taking down the roadblock forever!!! :)
The fact that you are taking initiative, being on line and researching the problem tells me you are intelligent and are taking steps to find answers. Good for you :)
You are in IT which tells me you may be analytical. So put the skills you already have to work here, like a puzzle.
Give yourself time, slowly repair piece by piece and you will get there.
Unfortunately, poor managers, bullies and just plain old unhappy or mean people are just a part of life.
They are everywhere and we must all learn to cope with this, don’t run away, learn how to face this fear and you will concur it and feel so much better, I promise :). The sooner you do this, the better, otherwise your fears will grow and get worse.
So what do we do to save ourselves from the hurt , stress & fears?
-Know the following – You have no control over others only control of yourself – constantly remind yourself of this. This thought may help in times when you feel attacked, unappreciated, stressed or an injustice towards you. Turn the negatives (anything that bothers you) into positives for instance: You have been working very hard on a project just to be told by your manager that you’re taking too much time and the work you did doesn’t meet expectations.
My first thought would be – wow I just got this great job but the management stinks!!! A good manager would look for your positives to encourage you. Another thought could be, my manager may be under too much pressure and may be under stress to meet deadlines. Some managers think the more they push the more they will get out of you but many times it’s just the opposite. Morale gets low, employees just like you get stressed and quit, because of the manager, the company then suffers the costs. Unfortunately you landed a dream job but the crummy manager came with it. Secondly, a good manager should want to help you grow.. If you grow and prosper under them it makes them look good, right ? The crummy manager didn’t give you a chance, you are in a new position and it takes time to get familiar. Lastly, you know that you are putting your best into your work and you should be proud, it’s always nice to get a pat on the back but don’t ever expect that pat on the back because it may never come – PAT YOUR OWN BACK :) your doing a good job for you and just you for your own satisfaction, not to satisfy some miserable manager. It’s always nice to do a good job and get a pat on the back, that feels good too but don’t allow yourself to be disappointed if you don’t get it, always be happy about the good job you did :) trust me on this one. I have 40 years experience working and no manager or coworker has the power to upset, I just won’t do that to myself!!! Bad managers are usually afraid of loosing their position and they should be because they can’t get staff to get the job done. Basically they are in a position that they shouldn’t be in, maybe they know someone in the company and that’s how they got their jobs, who knows, doesn’t make any difference.
So you quit your job to save your sanity. That’s okay it may take you a few tries that’s normal. Take this as a learning experience but don’t give up the career you’ve worked so hard for. That would be like letting that crummy manager win…. So you get right back on the road you want to be on. All you have to do is train your brain. Maybe a therapist could teach you some tricks. This is all you need or you may be able to tune into yourself and figure things out on your own like I did. I’ve been thru numerous rough spots myself but I learned how to win, to be happy inside :) I’ve trained my brain to eliminate harm very quickly. The one thing I learned they (managers/coworkers) hate the most is when their attempts to upset me fail and I just smile and so okay and get on with my work. I don’t allow them to make me mad or hurt me because I don’t deserve that and neither do you.
I almost kinda laugh inside and think to myself boy I’m glad I’m not like them.
Good luck to you, I know you will succeed. Be good to yourself.
I have the same issue. I can’t express how difficult it is to cope up
My husband and I are in bit of a bind. We are a young married couple of 11 months. Last summer when we were married, my husband had an amazing job, and had been working there for over a year. He was the top performer, and really worked hard (he does enterprise sales). Long story short- the company was toxic. They treated him like garbage and promised incentives and never delivered. My husband quit a month after we were married and took what we thought would be a great opportunity in a successful startup. He quit this job after a month. His excuse was things were “shady” and he didn’t want to be involved in things like that. Since these first two jobs, he’s had 4 more jobs that all lasted for less than a month for some reason or another in 8 months. We were looking for a new job for him in April, and came across this incredible opportunity. I feel so strongly it was blessing from God. He started the second week of May and here we are June 1st, and he already wants to quit. Ever since he quit the first job right after we were married, something has changed with him. I don’t know if it is the stress of now being responsible for someone else and the pressure to perform and meet his quota, but he is spiraling into depression. I’ve been trying to be supportive as I can and encourage him to not give up. But I think that first job really did a lot of damage on his perception of himself. He used to be fearless and loved closing the deals and now I hear how he’s a pushover and won’t close. I role-play with him and practice with him and have told him to not give up on this AMAZING job, but it’s not really working. I didn’t really know there was a name for something like this until I came across this article. Basically, I’m looking for advice- how can I help my husband want to sell or work at all again? I’m finishing up my degree and work part-time to help out financially, but I don’t have the income alone to support us. Really, I need advice of what has helped you or your loved ones.
Thank you a million!
Javed Iqbal says
I can understand his feelings. I have same issues. Thank you. You are a wonderful lady. Please keep on supporting your husband. He can do everything in life. The bad experiences at jobs lead to permanent disorders. I have never been rude or strict to anyone in my life. I always stay cool and guide my juniors without yelling at them. Even if they ask me same question for 100 times because i dont want them to suffer from what i am suffering. I am working in my current company just because of my good collegues and my family support. They always encourage me. I daily cry before going to job and i cannot show my tears to anyone but inside it hurts me that how weak i am. Please keep on supporting your husband. I wish and my prayers are with him that may God help him and he finds a good job with very good managers and colleagues.
Javed Iqbal says
One more thing please tell your husband that he is not alone. There are many people in this world dealing with such situations. Secondly tell him that he must try hard to continue his job because he always have the option to quit.
“Often, to observers, the phobic appears normal. However, internally, a plethora of reactions are going on in his mind: these include feeling like running away or hiding, feeling like crying, having thoughts of death etc.”
This sound exactly like me. Does it mean I have work phobia?
It keeps happening to me that I keep finding excuses to not go to work.
I hate my job and I really want to quit but they made me sign a contract that told me to pay a large sum of money if I quit before 2019. I don’t know what I should do.
Maybe I have a mild case, but, like some others have mentioned, I have been able to work but quit every job eventually and have had many jobs in a short amount of time. I work 2-3 jobs every year.
I have realized in the last 9 months or so that I can only stick with jobs that limit my interaction with people. Unfortunately, most jobs involve regular interaction with people, and I have quit most of those jobs even without having another job lined up. I would dread Mondays, I would wake up with stomach aches and have to go to the restroom shortly after getting to work, would take restroom breaks just to get away and I would develop migraines by lunchtime. I would have tension pain in my neck and shoulder for weeks at times. I have worked tech support jobs, and I would dread when the phone would ring.
I have realized that I probably have not only performance anxiety but social anxiety. I was picked on and alienated by others a lot growing up, but I have also been spoken to/treated horribly by co-workers, clients and customers many times, and it has basically made me afraid of people–just afraid of potential conflict, potential confrontation, potentially not being able to help people to their satisfaction/do my job to my satisfaction, etc. I almost always excel at every job and outshine co-workers, but it doesn’t help me. I am still always afraid to go to work, but it’s worse when I have a job where I have to interact with many people. I have turned down opportunities to advance at least twice because I knew a managerial/supervisory position would be too stressful.
The job I have now is a part-time job working 2-3 days a week overnight so that I can limit social interaction and anxiety. Very few things go wrong at this job, but I still dread going to work, especially the first day back every week, which is usually a Sunday or Monday night. I still have a nervous stomach on the way to work, even though it’s not as bad as with other jobs, and I still have to go to the restroom due to my stomach or nerves. I don’t get the migraines unless something goes wrong. I still hate when the phone rings or when I see a potential customer or current one coming.
The problem(s) are this:
1) I don’t make enough money working so little, but I am miserable working even just 3 days. I do NOT want to go back to full time work, even at this kind of job. I worry too much about something going wrong or having a run-in with someone who is complaining or confrontational. I had even started working 2 days regularly and was happier with that, but I looked at my expenses and had to go back to 3 days and I can’t stand it. It’s even worse when my co-worker wants me to take her shifts and I have to work more than 3 days. But she has medical issues, so I can’t really just refuse or make up an excuse every single time.
2) I am extremely intelligent. And I only mention this for two reasons. One:
I went to an Ivy League caliber college and an Ivy League caliber grad school, so I have a lot of debt. I can get jobs that pay a lot more than I make, and I have…but I am always miserable, and I always quit. I live with my parents, and they pay part of my expenses while I give the money I make to pay the rest. Living with my parents and getting financial help from them means social stigma, including a lot of women not wanting to date me. So, on top of feeling like I can never be as successful as I’d spent years and years planning and studying to be, I want to find someone to spend the rest of my life with and don’t see THAT ever happening. I also can’t see ever getting out of debt…
3) Two, because I am so intelligent, my family is VERY frustrated with me. My mother has started telling me I am wasting my talents and intelligence on a “minimum wage” job. My parents are always suggesting jobs I can do, and I always say I don’t want to do those jobs and they get irritated. My mother mainly defended me until I started working only 2-3 days a week at a job I could have gotten with just a high school degree, by choice because I don’t want to deal with confrontation. I feel bad, and I know she is right. But I literally feel sick when I’m at work when I have “better” jobs that are more respectable and pay more money, and I am so unhappy when I get home because of the things that happened during the day. My mother knows I don’t like dealing with people. She knows I was picked on in school, but she and I had a conversation recently and I learned that she didn’t know about a lot of it–she only remembers or only ever knew about one of the bullies that she spoke to several of my teachers about and eventually told the Principal to never put us in the same class again.
4) I have a sister who makes over $80000/yr and gets raises and bonuses on top of that. She is not as intelligent or educated as I am and not as talented, but she is still intelligent. This makes my parents even more frustrated with me because I believe they thought I was going to have the career my sister has, and I believe they think I SHOULD have the kind of career she has or BETTER and think I am CAPABLE of having it. My sister recently told them about a bonus she is getting, and I think that triggered my parents on expressing frustration with me.
Now that I write this all out, maybe it’s not as mild as I thought. I’ve seen people online just laugh and reduce ergophobia to being lazy, but writing out my experience shows it’s not really that like even I thought it was for me. If anything, when I’m at work I do MORE than others. I wish I could get help with this, and I usually find myself just thinking I am too lazy, don’t want to change enough or I’m just not passionate enough about anything to tolerate any job as a career or long term. I have a psychology degree; I know about cognitive behavioral therapy, but I hate the sound of that and can’t see it working anyway. I have read parts of books about performance anxiety and social anxiety, and I just don’t see how I can get beyond these things or cope enough to have a good job/life and be independent.
Anyway, thanks to those who have read all of this!
Thank you for writing such an interesting post. People who use the term “lazy” are judgemental and not very bright. A lot of successful people are average intelligence or below but have more motivational energy. Sometimes being smart causes too much analysis which interferes with decision making, which can leave you stuck and unable to take action. Have you tried meditation?
You poor guy. You obviously have emotional illness and fears – it is not laziness, and you should not be viewing it, along with your parents, as just “normal” behavior to be judged and treated in just a normal way. You are working/performing dar below your i.q. potential because of an emotional illness handicap, doing yourself a great disservice, and just need to recognize and accept it for what it is, and confess/recognize to your parents what it is, and go get some psychiatric help.
It was my first time to know about ergophobia. I just discovered your article as I was searching for ways to handle my anxiety at work in the internet. I was okay at my first job before but I suffered some difficult situations that led me to resign. I was so eager to work again as I am the breadwinner of my family so I actively applied for a new work. I was hired in an Australian BPO but I experienced so much anxiety and discomfort in working and interacting with people. I feel suffocated and I eventually resigned after four days of working. After a month, I was hired again in a government owned company. I just finished working for a week there and the anxiety and discomfort are still there. I am always crying. The bitter part is that my love ones doesn’t understand/comprehend what I am going through. They said that I’m just worrying too much or overthinking. I was forced to keep my fears to myself. It really hurts- the feeling of being alone and helpless in this kind of “battle”. There are time that I’m contemplating suicide because of thinking about going to work again. And maybe I will in the next months or so.
I really sympathise with you and your situation. I am 41 and have been in and out, (mostly out), of work all my life. My parents still don’t really understand it and my partner after being together 20 years said he was sick of it. I was reliant on him financially and am now reliant on state benefits which in itself is immensely soul destroying but keeps my head just about above water. I have also been in and out of therapy over the years and been diagnosed with agoraphobia and social anxiety. So now you know a bit about my story and that you and I have the same struggles in common. After struggling with this my entire life, (school was also an issue), and ending up in some very dark places mentally, I am now more able to accept that people are not going to understand, but that’s their ignorance, their problem, not mine. In learning that I have also learned that my self worth doesn’t hinge on their opinions of me, though it does hinge on my own. So I had to learn to forgive myself, I was made this way, it has not been a choice, therefore how can I be blamed? This journey I have been on has now brought me to a place where I am trying to set up my own business from home, the lesson being that maybe instead of me trying to get my anxieties to fit in around work, I can get work to fit in around my anxieties.
I began this journey at rock bottom, when the mere thought of walking out the door would spark a panic attack and although it is still a large part of my life I am handling it and for the first time in a very long time I am hopeful.
I just want you to know that there is hope, you just have to find a way to do it your way and try not to succumb to social ideals of how you should be living your life. You are not a hateful, nasty or bad person because of this, you are struggling and that’s not a crime. You are worth fighting for so love yourself a little more.
I have found the ‘Paradoxical attitude to anxiety’ very helpful and there’s loads on the web about it.
I wish you the very best of luck in finding your light at the end of your very dark tunnel as I have mine x
Hi. I didn’t know that such a thing like ergophobia existed. In my case, I thought it isn’t so much of severe one. I sort of ‘figured out’ that one specific thing that triggers my panic attacks and this only happened recently. I just thought that the only solution for now is simply avoid that particular activity altogether. I remembered having a full blown panic attack after my dad told me he suggested working under his friend, which happened to be that activity I didn’t know I would fear: designing. I was job hunting at that time after dropping out of college.
I took designing for two-and-a-half years and quit before completing at three years as I personally thought I wasn’t improving much since the start of the major. I continuously got a minimum pass or a fail for almost every assignment given. At first it didn’t stop me from trying again repeatedly, I was optimistic that I’d get better. But it turned out to be on the contrary near the end. ‘I’m not good enough.’
Now ever since that panic attack after knowing the trigger for it. I thought I should just ‘face my fear’ to heal it. But everytime I launch my AutoCAD, the software I use for my major, I hesitate and start to tremble and hyperventilate. To stop the symptoms, I end up closing the software without doing anything with it. The panic attacks had me crying occasionally too.
I’m pretty sure that my parents are clear from any records of diagnosed anxiety whatsoever, I avoid telling them anything about my suffering. It’s not really serious, but it’s still a suffering. If I tell them, especially my dad, they’ll probably just discard it as some lame excuse for not taking up a good job opportunity. For two-and-a-half years, it’s not like I haven’t learnt anything at all, but, really. I imagined the scene of embarrassing myself with having panic attacks if I ever took up that job by my dad’s friend. I don’t like it.
Hi Syer. I wish I could reply to everyone here because I can relate so much. But you mention something that I also realized about myself, specific triggers and why I am so scared of working. Substitute ‘designing’ with ‘programming’ and that’s my problem in a nutshell.
I know for a fact now that I am not at fault for this problem. The reason is because it has only just recently (as in just last month) been brought to my attention that I grew up with a very abusive dad. I always knew something was wrong with my childhood, and I always knew it had to do with the people that raised me but I never knew it went this deep. Mostly because the abuse was emotional, which is very hard to detect as a child especially, as well as verbal… which I thought was normal at the time. I took the verbal beatings from my dad and internalized them very deeply. His harsh vocabulary became my own and I developed a very critical perception of myself. The one thing that affected me the most was him calling me stupid and telling me that I would never amount to anything. He would do this every time he was frustrated with himself or with a situation. I believed his words, every time. This went on for years.
So what does this have to do with programming? Well, it’s basically what I want to do as a career. But the belief that I’m stupid is so ingrained in me that I fear programming. I regard it so highly and as something so mystical, so obviously I can’t be successful since I’m stupid and only smart people program, that’s what I’ve thought for so long. I tried my hardest to prove these thoughts wrong in college. I aced all classes and graduated at the top of my class. Sadly, this did not change anything on the inside. My confidence was still at an all time low. I was able to land a programming job shortly after and it all came crashing down. My insecurities and fears all came out. And I swear, just as the article says, on the outside I seemed so normal. On the inside was a completely different matter, I was freaking out so much, crying after the workday ended. I felt like nothing, like I didn’t belong there at all. I was so afraid of going in there, I felt like passing out every morning. I tried to find all possible excuses I could but my mom kept telling me I was talking myself out of it and overthinking. She didn’t understand how much I feared it and how sick it made me. After work, all I could think about was work the next day. I was absolutely miserable so I just suddenly quit. I only lasted a month.
My work history prior to that is laughable because I avoided working for so long due to other anxieties, like having to interact with people and fear of looking stupid or making a mistake. But honestly, performance anxiety for me is the worst, because any blunder or mistake is just “evidence” of my incompetence, that’s how I feel. I only ever had one job before the one I quit and it was part time for only 6 months cleaning at a restaurant. Even then I was very afraid although it required practically no skills.
It’s been almost 2 years now since I quit and I’m in my mid 20s. I still live with my parents. And the worst part is that I know rationally that I need to get away from them… well, my dad, not my mom. For my own sanity. I hate being around him. His words do not carry any weight anymore and I spot his wrong behavior so quickly I just don’t take him seriously at all. But I still don’t want to be near him, I would like to experience living without even hearing his voice just to see the change it would bring to my mental space. In my mind I have already left. The other side to that is that I cannot actually leave unless I have money. And I cannot have money until I get a job. But I cannot KEEP a job unless I stop fearing programming and work itself. I stopped doing it for a while and “lost” some of my knowledge/skills. I’m slowly getting back into it. A lot of the time, I block myself completely and I cannot program even the simplest things which reinforces the idea that I’m stupid. But Syer, I have seen the other side a few times. During those times, my mind was so clear and focused, I worked at an unbelievable speed. And even when I ran into bugs in the code, I didn’t get frustrated at myself and I didn’t feel like giving up. And I think this might be me coming out of the fog, slowly but surely. For this reason, I believe in you Syer. We can’t give up. We can’t throw it away.
Thank you, it’s nice to know that there are actually other people out there that have this.
Sad Dolly says
Hi. I didn’t know about this “ergophobia” existing until today. I was afraid of going to school when i was young. I kept crying non-stop and my parents hate me doing that even when all kids stop crying and have adapted the school life. Eventually they all thought this was going to stop but it did not. I fear of going to school even in high school. I was worried about result, teachers and every single thing. My parents could not understand and would often scold and canned me to stop me from acting this way. They could not understand why i was acting this way, they can’t understand why am i being so afraid.
I don’t take part time job even when i was young. My daily allowance given to me every month was enough. This “ergophobia” followed me even when i stepped out of society. I was getting my first job and i eat my lunch on my first day of work, i told my colleague i ate alot in the morning but in fact i do not have any appetite. When the day finally comes to an end, I feel like not coming back to work on my 2nd day. I feel like crying when people ask me to do things i don’t understand at all, i feel like taking my bags and leave the company. Most of the time I lost my appetite and can’t sleep well. I cried until my eyes got so swollen and then i had to use heat pack to make the swell go down. I hate myself for acting this way, it’s like I’m born with “lost of guts/too much fear” inside me. I eventually quit my job and now i’m not working. I took part time job to get by my daily expenses but my parents could not understand why i can’t stop being lazy and go for a full time job.
In the end I’m now going through interview again and again but the fear has come back again. I hate myself alot for being so useless. I even told my mum if i give my lifespan to someone, they will spent it in a much better way than i will. My parents do not know that i am suffering from this but they simply perceived it as being lazy or trying to escape working and claim money from government.
There’s basically nothing i could do about it but kept living in fear.
Pamela Camp says
Hi Sad Doll,
No everything you have said above resonates with what I have been through all my life. I only recently discovered this word ‘ergophobia’ because I overheard it on a quiz show whilst I was in the kitchen!! This was about 2 weeks ago. Then I looked it up and came across this site and was SOOOO relieved that it was a real thing and other people had the same problem. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I can relate to everything you said above as mine started at school when I had a few of forms and applying for universities. I could actually go to school though. Then I did a secretarial course but was a useless secretary as I panicked from day 1 at the office and would screw everything up because I felt so useless. I avoided the world of work as much as I could and turned to alcohol as an immediate relief for this horrible fear. Remember this was back in the lat 70’s and not much was known about these mental disorders then so I was too frightened to go the Dr or indeed explain to anybody about my problem. This phobia led to an early marriage at 22 to a man I was really just looking for security for which ended in divorce at 30. I did get remarried and am happy now. However, unfortunately this stuff is genetic, not always but can be and I can now see the same traits that I had in my 16 year daughter. She has terrible problems with anxiety and once passed out with it!! Because, it takes one to know one as they say – I do not want her to suffer the way I have all my life. I am 54 now and have taken her to the Dr and she is going to have a CAMHS Assessment this month. This is 2016 and there is nothing to be ashamed of by having such problems and thank God people understand far more about all these things and depression.
At least you didn’t turn to alcohol dependence or any substance abuse to alleviate this. However, I want to thank you for sharing and I can empathise with everything you have said above. It is all such wasted potential because NO it is not laziness – we all want to be part of this world and do something that fulfils us in the work place. It is a terrible blocked energy.
I was just wondering if there was anyone else in your family – even an aunt or somebody who suffered from anxiety and depression because I have learnt that these things are hereditary.
Take care and thinking of you and all the suffering you have had with this over the years – it is horrendous but I’m sure there is help out there for this now – even meditation, hypnotherapy, CBT something that can help you. My warmest wishes to you from a fellow sufferer.
Garry Watkins. says
I have terrible anxiety about returning to the workplace. I haven’t worked in over 3 and a half years because of a serious workplace accident while working as a bus driver in 2009. I kept working until 2012 when I was unexpectedly called into the manager’s office and confronted by 4 other managers sitting around a large table. I was told to sit down and was basically accused of mis-conduct and was told to leave. By then I had been diagnosed with extreme anxiety disorder and depression as a result of the 2009 accident however none of that was taken into consideration.
The thought of returning to any type of work and workplace completely scares me. I also now suffer from terrible ocd and social anxiety disorder and all I want to do is hide away from the world.
I have this phobia no doubt about it! I’ve had about 20 jobs in my life so far and I’m only 25. I hate socializing and being around people all the time, I got diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, bipolar spectrum and borderline personality disorder last year which explains why I hate and fear the thought of a work routine and can never stick at them. Does anyone feel as if it’s so physically draining committing yourself to something you don’t care about for 8 hours a day? It crushes my soul thinking about it. I’m on ESA and in the process of a disability living allowance claim for my anxiety as I find it too horrific trying to be around people all the time. I’d rather be skint and not anxious or constantly dread being a wage slave for the next 45 years and have a quiet recluse life than be stressed to the max about a job that doesn’t matter anyway.
Jon Baugh says
Just wanted to say that I agree with everything you said, this is the first time in 40 years that I have looked into why after all these years I’ve had 45 jobs, that’s right 45, it’s almost a job a year, and I’ve finally decided that enough is enough and look into why I have had so many jobs.
I have the same feelings as you, it crushes my very soul too to have to commit to working 8 hours a day, and a lot of time many more! Ive just had my contract terminated at a company recently were I had worked for only six months, fortunately, or unfortunately which ever way you look at it I managed to find another job in a week which I am due to start tomorrow. I’m not sure whether I should have just gone off sick as a Doctor signed me off sick, but due to debt I have to continue as a wage slave for the foreseeable future.
Anyway, just wanted to let you know that your not on your own with this phobia,
Still Alice says
I lost my job in early June. Usually this is not a big deal because I have had this phobia my whole life. I just Labour Ready or do an Edmonton Journal route until my depression settles again. Now that I am a single mom of two, interviews are super stressful. I have a fog, and I don’t hear the question. I ask several times to repeat. I feel awful because my daughter wants to go to play in school in the fall and covering the cost now is not possible.
I have had this fear my whole life. I remember as a chid of fearing going to school most days. The idea of spending 7 hours there terrified me. I worried if something bad would happen. It has continued throughout my adult working life. The idea of going to work for 9 hours makes me have panic attacks. I always dream of winning the lotto or reaching retirement which is 25 years away. I do well at most jobs I have held but I feel it is killing me. I tried four different careers but none of them seem to be working for me. When I am off, all I do is think about going to work, I can’t relax or sleep. It effects my relationship with friends and family, especially my wife and kids. I am just trying to make it through life. I take medication that seems to keep me functioning.
Tom, I need not say more, I can just copy paste your situation. I am in the same situation! I feared school, I was once fired, and now I can’t stand meeting with an employer! I can’t imagine answering questions, I always see an employer rejecting me, I’m in a different country far from my home country and this has made things worse. I can’t dream or even imagine working with people from a different country. I panic! I fear failing at work. I do apply for numerous jobs and I’m invited for an interview but just before I take up the position, fear strikes. 1001 thoughts crossing my mind. How will I work? How will I communicate? How will I perform?
What medication do you take Tom?
I’m also paralyzed with this fear again it stems from my total fear of socialising with people who i find i can’t relate to.
I’ve got an extreme fear of work. I’m not exactly sure why, but I get freaked out at the thought of going. My job requires me to be on call for the days when I’m not scheduled, and my anxiety sky-rockets when every day I’m not scheduled for fear, they might call me to come. Thankfully I’m not required to answer every time they call, so I can avoid it. However when I do I feel really guilty and that makes my anxiety worse. I often feel like the others who have to pick up the slack when I’m gone hate me and it makes the anxiety worse. I get so upset that I start crying and often just want to quit my job and hide at home forever. But doing that would put a heavy strain on my marriage and to make it worse I don’t think my husband understands what it feels like.
I always want to stay home or close to home all the time. When going on vacations, all I want to do is go home. My wife thinks my fears are irrational but tries to be supportive.
I’m a college student and this fear has drastically reduced my class participation. I’m always afraid of socializing freely, but when I get comfortable with a person I socialize very well. I’ve been trying to overcome this fear by consciously throwing myself out to conditions that stimulate this phobia, and trying to control my reaction. There hasn’t been a significant improvement but there has been little improvements. Some symptoms I get are breathlessness and dizziness.
I agree with you, however it’s not how the world works. So how do you fix the issue? I have so many conflicting opinions. I get what you’re saying. But as a child you had to go to school. As an adult, if you don’t go to work, you live in poverty. So if we apply the rule of childhood that means you must go to work. But if you don’t.. then what?
Brad from Jasper says
I have a fear of pie charts. My boss is very visual and is always tasking me to create presentations using graphs, pie charts and other visual representations of our day to day processes. I have no problem with graphs but pie charts on the other hand scare the living hell out of me. Can anyone give me direction on how I can communicate my fear to him without any repercussions? This is a big part of my job along with creating self-evaluations for my co-workers.
So I Am says
Use line, bar, pictographs, graphs, and stem leaf plots. Pies can be confusing, so I understand.
Tonya in Blount County says
I’m able to go into the office only about 1-2 days per week and only about 4 hours per day when I’m there. Fortunately, I work for a company that let’s me work from home as needed so it’s not a horrible situation. However, I know the people on my team and others at work make fun of me for never being in the office and for some of the ‘outlandish’ excuses I have to give (schools closed, family emergency, car trouble, etc). This is a real condition for me – how can I prove to them it’s real and what I’m feeling is a real condition? Should I look for a job that lets me stay at home?
So I Am says
I am struggling with the same thing. Perhaps it would be best just to tell people that you have a social anxiety issue, and that the work environment and people scare you. After all if you are like me, you have to act like you are someone else and reherse everything in your head before you go out. It is draining to always have to act all the time.
Valerie Thompson says
I have a fear of being fired at my job. I work the best that I can at my job, but I’m always scared when my boss calls me into her office that she is going to fire me. I have had other jobs before this one and felt the same way. How can I stop feeling like this. I’m miserable, I always feel like someone is out to get me for some reason or another. Please help me overcome these fears.
So I Am says
I know your dread and fear. Fake it until you make it. The best I can offer is pretend you are someone else. Pretend the other person in your body is happy and comfortable in the world, and would never get fired for any reason.
How can I cure this phobia? Or is it really curable?
I suffer from chronic depression and anxiety, it’s so hard to go to work b/c I’m afraid I’ll fail horribly or something worse! I don’t know how to get over this, I want to and need to but it seems impossible! Someone help!
Should I be looking for work when I have Ergophobia? Or find therapy and help first?
There is no point in postponing it, you might as well start working as quick as possible. Work is a natural part of life and believe me, it will only make things worse if you try to avoid it for too long. I used to get up every morning trying to come up with an excuse to why I should stay home and eventually I lost my job because of it. Today I actually look forward to going to work but it is only because I confronted my fear and got up every morning with a positive mind wanting to take back control of my life. I had family and friends to support me all the way and this really meant a lot to me so I encourage you to tell people how you feel instead of hiding it. There is absolutely no shame in having a phobia.
Is this Tommy in Bowman?
Yes, no need in sitting at home and hiding.
Are nightmares of going to work a symptom as well?
They can be yes. A lot of people have nightmares about work because they suffer from job related stress or financial problems etc. Work nightmares can also be your subconsciousness trying to tell you to change or correct something in your life. You need to analyze those dreams and figure out what they mean to you.