Depression and Imposter Syndrome may have cost me my job

First post; I hope it’s in the right category. Here is a little of what I’m dealing with at the moment, hoping someone will have suggestions or at least encouragement.

I have been working at the same small company for over two years, and worked my way up to be a pretty important part of it. For the last year, due to emotional stress both at home and at work, for a variety of reasons, I have been feeling more and more depressed. I deal with imposter syndrome almost on a daily basis, as I feel to young (26) and unqualified for my current position. To combat this, I have tried to surround myself with vendors and talk to experts in order to validate some of my work and decisions, but the imposter syndrome remains.

I thought I had sort of “snapped out” of my depressed state over this spring, and I decided to improve the company I work for and increase my own job satisfaction by bringing up some issues to my boss. She always encourages such feedback, but I usually keep quiet about what I feel and bottle it all up. It makes things run smoother that way, less friction when there doesn’t appear to be disagreement. To shorten the story slightly, I ended up having a good meeting and then writing a less-than-stellar email. The email sounded a bit aggressive in my critique of some of our processes, and while I thought I was doing a good thing by being honest, my boss took it personally. I’m now left wondering if I will have a job at the end of the month (she mentioned as much) and am looking at other opportunities just in case.

I am very underpaid for what I do (something I can recognize even with the imposter syndrome) so moving to an opportunity with higher pay is very easy. However, I am nervous to apply anywhere with a strong development team, because I’m afraid they will ask advanced questions that I cannot answer. I feel like I need to go back to where my career was 5 years ago, because that’s where I feel that I can excel, that’s where I feel like my skills are stuck. But I also have a strong desire to work somewhere with a strong development team, with people who can help me and train me and show me how to be an excellent developer. But I don’t want to be hit with a FizzBuzz-type problem that renders me code-less.

Overall, I don’t want to leave this company, I still think I can do a lot of good here. I had a bad day, wrote a bad email, and now I’m not sure how I can explain my way out of it. I was too focused on letting my boss know that I’m personally and professionally hurt by things she says, and didn’t give enough thought to her own feelings. I don’t have enough emotional intelligence or “people skills” to know how to apologize and clear things up, and I’m not 100% sure I’ll have the chance before we plan my resignation.

That’s the short story, thanks for listening.

TL;DR: I was sad, I let my boss know, she took it personally, now I’m looking for another job but limited by my insecurities.

I’m sorry about the miscommunication that happened at your job and with your boss. That really sucks.

So from what I understand, you did try to reach out and clear things up with your boss, and it only made things worse? If you’ve been at this company for a few years, and you were truly a part of their culture, and they have a healthy work culture, they should be open to criticism. I know a lot of companies are hard in their ways, I left a company like that. You can tell them they’re doing things inefficiently and you get made out to be the bad guy even though it’s the truth. Good companies that want to grow will hear their employees out, welcome open discussions, and have a more democratic view on changing things. No one should take anything personally unless you’re specifically mentioning names and pointing fingers.

I find it helps when I have feedback that isn’t good, that I also bring up good feedback to soften the blow a bit. Like, “I feel like the way we deploy our projects is awesome and that makes our jobs easier but I also feel like we can improve on XYZ. I feel like by not improving on XYZ, it makes it harder for us to accomplish blabbity blah.”

I basically got used to using the words “us” and “we” so it’s not as personal as me, you, John, Jim, etc. And by mentioning there are good things too, makes it seem like you appreciate some things but there’s still some work to be done as far as improvement and that’s fine. I think if you approached criticism like this and your boss still took offense, then you’re not working in a healthy environment or a company that wants to truly grow.

As far as Impostor Syndrome, I def feel you there. I still battle it all the time. I like Chris Lema’s Talk about it. If you know in your heart that the things you said were true and not offensive, than the fault isn’t yours and perhaps moving on IS best. There are companies that would LOVE your feedback. And if you are being underpaid, perhaps leaving will be a good thing. I know it’s scary as hell, I was in my job for 3 years before I left and felt like I was having a heart attack when I handed in my resignation letter and my boss looked me in the face. But I did it. I don’t regret it.

You’d be surprised at the good things that can happen to you if you let them happen. I hope things improve for you. Good luck.

1 Like

Thank you for the reply. Upon reflection, I approached the criticism a little too harshly because I’m so frustrated with a number of things. Instead of sounding like I was asking to help, it sounded a little accusatory. I tried to word it well, but the frustration came through due to a rough week.

I hadn’t seen Chris Lema’s talk, thank you for the link. That was excellent.

Glad you enjoyed the Chris Lema video - he’s an inspiring guy to follow. :slight_smile: As for the criticism, we all make mistakes especially under stress. I hope things improve for you. Take care.

1 Like