Are You Feeling Stupid At Work? I’m Here to Help.

Are You Feeling Stupid At Work? I’m Here to Help. June 25, 2009

Several months ago I posted an article called, “It’s Okay to Feel Stupid Sometimes.” In it I said that sooner or later, most of us will eventually run into a situation where we are in over our heads. And for a while, we will feel stupid. Being a sympathetic and encouraging career advisor, I went even further to say that feeling stupid is not only normal, it is actually a good sign. It means that you are growing and stretching beyond your comfort zone; that you are open to learning. Perhaps feeling stupid could even be a stepping stone to your next big promotion. I was dispensing some good, practical advice.

Like most of my Blog articles, I figured this one would run its course for a few days of activity, and then everyone would go away and forget about it. But a strange and mysterious phenomenon has been occurring. My “Stupid” post has turned out to be a smart draw to my Blog.  “It’s Okay to Feel Stupid Sometimes” is slowly climbing its way to becoming the top all-time post here at STC. Almost every day since the original posting, it continues to get page views as a result of the following Google search:

 “I feel stupid at work.”

That’s right. Vulnerable souls all across the world are sitting down at their computers every day, tapping that desperate phrase into their Google search bar, and landing right here at Shrinking the Camel. Well, friends, you have come to the right place. I am here to serve you.

Apparently there is an incredibly underserved market of employees in the workforce who are struggling at their jobs. I assume these people are simply looking for advice, support and encouragement. But I can’t help wondering what is behind this odd new trend. Are there really that many stupid workers out there, aside from myself? Have I possibly discovered a new niche?

I would like to try a little experiment.  A Blogging focus-group, if you will.  Here’s the deal: If you have found this post as a result of a Google search about feeling stupid at work, can you please tell me what’s going on? Can I help? Is there a book I should write on this subject, one that you would be willing to shell out $21.95 for? Really, I am very, very curious. I want to know what’s going on with you.

So. Leave a comment, and tell me in five hundred words or less what the circumstances are that are causing you to feel stupid at work, and what it is that you are hoping to find in your internet search.

This could be your big chance to get in at the ground floor of an entirely new workforce movement.  I look forward to hearing from you.

UPDATE: Hey, everyone! I finally got my e-book published, “At Work as it is in Heaven.” It’s not exactly on this subject of “Feeling Stupid,” but there are plenty of stories and insights around the challenges of dealing with job stress and finding a greater purpose in your work. And it’s only $2.99 – how can you say no to that?  Click here to purchase and download onto Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get the Kindle app installed for free on your i-pad, i-phone, or home computer, and read it from there. Thanks for visiting!

"I wish my parent acknowledged that I have such right instead of making the bad ..."

You Have the Right to Make ..."
"I feel so ashamed that I often contemplate suicide. High stress politically driven job combined ..."

Are You Feeling Stupid At Work? ..."
"Have you seen this version?https://images-na.ssl-image..."

The Evolution of Christian Branding
"A month ago I took a new job at a bigger company, with more responsibility ..."

Are You Feeling Stupid At Work? ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • dbrct

    This is a great point, and thanks for posting about this topic. I remember one of my more recent performance reviews, and the comments were favorable. However, my manager said something about “lack of confidence”. All of a sudden, all of those little (or big goof ups) on projects suddenly made sense. It wasn’t that I was stupid; it was that I just didn’t trust myself and didn’t “follow my gut”. My phrase is a more of, “I’m an idiot” or “I can’t do it” (which is just another version of “I’m stupid”).

    I once took a seminar that revealed many people have some sort of internal mantra like this…”nobody likes me”, “I won’t make it”, “I’m stupid”, etc. Even after an engineering degree and two masters along with other successful projects, I still think I’m the worst & most inept idiot in the world sometimes.

    Brad, I think you have a great idea…and I think people would be willing to shell out 21.95 for a book regarding this topic.

    Also, one thing I’m learning is that sometimes people just aren’t doing the sort of work that truly fit them as individuals. For example, I’m not a very detail oriented person so sometimes I just miss things because I’m focused on simply completing the task or focusing on how it fits into the big picture. Believe me…I used to consider myself an idiot every time I missed any little detail. Now I know it’s just not me, and I have to double/triple check myself now.

    With that being said, I call my passion “career fitness”. I write regularly for people who are eager to find careers that fit their personalities, their values, and their lifestyles. Nothing is more rewarding than doing work that really calls to you.

    Good luck on the new book!

    D. Robinson

  • nAncY

    could it have something to do with so many people looking for work?

    it is good of you to offer your support to those having

    feelings of doubt or failure in their position.

    it will be interesting to see what is on the other side of this door.

  • During the last two-and-a-half years, my team at work has spent a lot of time on professional development. More than any other non-IT department in a company of 23,000, our work is all about electronic communication — web sites, intranets, online research, social media, email news. This stuff changes so rapidly that we have to spend a lot of time understanding what’s happening, internalizing what works for us, and then helping the rest of the company do the same thing. We have plenty of opportunities for feeling stupid, but we generally are doing a good job of keeping up. It’s the fun part of “stupid in the workplace” — learning new things.

    That’s one kind of “stupid” — falling behind in your knowledge of what’s happening and changing in your work.

    Then there’s what I might call “political stupid” — not understanding or following the changing political dynamics in the workplace. I wrote about this in May on my blog, under the title of “When Work Gets Irrational.” This is the harder of the “two stupids.” You have to be perceptive enough to pick up on what’s happening, but have enough integrity to stay out of it. And if you stay out of it, it may engulf you and your team. In the example I cited in the post, I was perceptive enough to pick up on it — but dealt with a wall of “everything’s fine; nothing’s wrong” until the tidal wave hit, leaving broken trust and broken relationships in its wake.

    Of the two, the second is the harder to learn, the more difficult to deal with, and the more destructive.

    Write that book.

  • I wonder if “I feel stupid at work” also means “I’m being treated like I’m stupid by my employer.”

    Right now, I’m going to just be happy that my supervisor/employer doesn’t make me feel stupid!

    • Mary Beth

      My cleaning client makes me feel stupid sometimes. I am so stressed when I work at her house. I know she is in her 80’s and she doesn’t feel well at times, but she should never treat anyone like this. 🙁 I would welcome comments!

  • shrinkingthecamel

    Career Cougar – Thanks for the visit and sharing your personal experiences! Yes, the “Imposter Syndrome” is getting more coverage – last week the Wall St. Journal did a whole feature on it. It’s all part of “feeling stupid”, I guess!

    Glynn – You bring up a really interesting part of this, which is the “poliical intelligence” side of things, and yes, can be very tricky. SOunds like you have a few things you could teach others about that.

    Nancy- I have no idea if it has to do with people out of work… I think it’s more people working and uncertain about their fate.

    Marcus – I think you hit on a real big one, too – “MY boss makes me feel stupid”. Another angle altogether.

    You are all showing me that feeling stupid at work is a very complicated subject! Let’s see what else comes up.

  • i need to be smart enough to come up with ways to conect and relate with people that are interested in high quality wine.

    new ways, old ways, a combination?

    what would interest people?

    that is what i am up against right now.

  • Remarkable.

    These days, I try not to describe myself in such terms. Sure, we can be in need of new knowledge, in need of discernment and wisdom… maybe there are skills we need to acquire….

    but, hey, we are also already amazing, are we not? 🙂

  • Cool post, Brad. I’m glad for this little observation and looking forward to what big results may come.

  • Cool post, Brad. I am glad for this little observation and looking forward to what big results may come.

  • Ganesh

    I am new to the job and am the junior-most person in the whole project team of 20 (including a manager).

    I am enthusiastic, and do my job well and am a perfectionist. But sometimes in our group meetings (which happen every week)..I get this feeling that I am not participating and blurt out something just for the sake of participation (and also from enthusiasm)…but as it happens I am somewhat new and end up feeling stupid after making the comment as people more experienced in the project can clearly see that it is for the sake of participation…..I make the comment and then feel so stupid,like I wanna jump from the building….I think part of it is because I am not very confident.

  • shrinkingthecamel

    Ganesh – First thing: You WILL become more confident the more time you spend with the project team. Second thing: You are probably WAY more worried about your comment than everyone else is. (3) You deserve SMART points because of your enthusiasm. D. Make sure to always be prepared, whatever your tasks are, so that you will look smart when the right moment comes.

    Give it time, man! You are on your way!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Who’s next?

  • I feel stupid at work whenever I answer questions too quickly without analyzing it first. For example, I was at a committee meeting months ago where one of the Director asked me a question (my mind would freeze up when there’s a lot of eyes on me) so I answer quickly without thinking it through. Whenever this happen I always feel stupid afterward when I know I could have answered it another way or I know the answer and would not provide more details because I feel I might get nervous and make myself look even more stupid. Yes, this is definitely a confidence issue!! Today, I felt stupid at work for returning a call to one of the Director to tell her that we will not be including the person she wants to attend our meeting because we think it’s unnecessary to have this person create a new window within our system to capture this specific information. When I told her that she said, “Well, someone is confused because that’s not what I said.” My mind scanned through what she said and I was pretty sure she said that. Then she said that she can do that system setup and what this person can do is generate a report where it will give us all the changes that were done after the record was entered. I then remembered my boss had told me that she was told this would not be possible so I told her that. The Director said she doesn’t believe it and where did I get my information. I stupidly give her my supervisor name and then fumble through an explanation that sounded like I was making this up when that’s what I was told. She made me questioned myself if I am the confused one and didn’t catch on to what she said the first time. At the end, I told her if she wants, my supervisor is in her office if she would like to talk to her. I felt stupid transferring the call to my boss and feel “what if” I did misinterpreted what she said the first time. I feel this Director thinks I was lying/dumb and don’t know if she confirmed with my boss if the information give her was true. So I feel stupid and think I will feel even more stupid when I face her at our scheduled meeting..which I am not looking forward to! This had made me beat myself up all day and am still trying to shake if off.

  • shrinkingthecamel

    Cee Cee – Yes, you are dealing with a confidence issue and some insecurity. You probably assume that everyone thinks you are not going to give a correct answer to begin with, so you are feeding your brain with those negative xpectations, which makes you nervous, which makes you panic and actually fulfill your own expectations by saying something less-than-smart. (Ok , maybe it even sounded stupid!) BUt you and I know that you are NOT stupid!! Start reminding yourself of how smart and knowledgeable you are, and how your boss and those around you need your valuable opinions. You have got to re-direct the negative chatter in your brain. Take a deep breath, take your time, and don’t short-change your own capabilities.

    I think you could use a good mentor – someone to talk you through all of this and remind you of the bold, creative, smart, confident person that God designed you to be.

    • A mentor is a great idea! In my case, I had all these negative perceptions and beliefs in speaking situations which resulted in freezing up and mumbling all the time whenever I had to share an idea with more than 1 person… anyways, long story short, I found a professional who met with me every week for cognitive behavioral therapy sessions.

      It came down to rationalizing the situation with his help until I could spot my own negative thought habits and correct them, then gradual real-world exposure from easy to most difficult speaking situations. After 4 months and constant practice, my beliefs have taken a 180 degree turn, and with it, my symptoms, self-confidence, and behavior!

      Highly recommend CBT for anyone with moderate to sever issues with confidence in public speaking- weather with 1 person, 2 people, or a group of 20.

      • Friggin’ awesome advice from someone who actually lived through it. Three cheers for you, Daniel. I hope others see your initiative and courage and follow. Others talk and whine, but you actually faced the beast head on. Great!

  • tsuris

    I am feeling horrible right now and I came across your blog. I am a graphic designer. I had a good job previously and I got along very well with all my co-workers including my boss. Unfortunately, I was laid off (not due to job performance-the company merged and was down-sizing) and had to take another job, which is where I am now for the past 8 months. I feel like a first class moron everyday at my current job. I never felt so stupid and incompetent before in my life–ever. My current boss even keeps an error list on me so each time I screw up, it is recorded. I am basically as good as the sum of my failures. Anything good that I do is hardly ever noticed. My creativity and talent simply does not matter at this place. I am fine with constructive criticism, since that is how we learn better ways of doing things and we grow from that. At my previous job, if I made a mistake my former boss would point it out to me and basically we would figure out how to proceed next and what I can do in the future to prevent the same error from happening again. Anytime I am given advice on how to do something better, I do appreciate it and I let the person who tells me the advice know it. We are all human and by nature, imperfect. But when I am spoken down to in a condescending matter and made to feel like such a awful stupid loser every minute of the day, I have a hard time concentrating-and this then leads to another screw up. I cry at my desk hoping that no one will notice. I am always afraid of the next time I mess up at this job and when it happens I am petrified of when my current boss finds out. When I was driving to work today, I honestly wished that a big Mac truck can crash into me–I would have preferred that than to come in to this place. What a horrible thought. I know with this economy, I should be glad that I am at least working and I am. But I wish the economy was better so I would not be stuck at this place. Saying your job is only a step above unemployment is not a good thing at all. OK, thanks for reading my rant.

    • ivyDude

      i’m so sorry to hear what you’re going through! Hang in there. Find something in life that you enjoy and don’t let your job define who you are. Life is more than ur ability to run through some code efficiently. You seem to be a hardworker, and i’ve faced failures even working at my best.

    • ivyDude

      that said. find another job quick and move away. ur life isn’t worth pleasing ur boss. Ur life is the most important thing to you and hopping to die from stress (which i know…) is simply not worth it. and PLEASE find people who will encourage and love you! You have to see life’s worth beyond work…

      • Icanhandleit

        I came across this blog when I googled “I feel stupid at work”. I was made redundant from a company that I loved working for. I did eventually find another job, in fact it was a promotion of sorts and I felt really proud that I was successful in obtaining it. However, the job has turned out to be overwhelming, and am on a huge learning curve. I frequently feel stupid and make mistakes that are making me feel embarrased. I have put the struggle down to trouble with letting go of the old job/friends/routine. But made a committment to work through the challenges. Its been six months with little improvement. I think I have bitten of more than I can chew but so stuck have lost sight of what to do.

    • elle

      wow you just described my situation to the letter

    • sounds like me too! They have it recorded everything I did wrong and I will always be on the line. I am always feeling sick and depressed and have feelings like you do too. I always feel i am alone because they tell me I am the only one doing poorly. I try at work but then I become very fatigued and feel like I will always be a failure.

    • My situation is much the same…the list is not written..but rather stated often, along with whatever mistake I may or may not have actually done. I have two bosses, husband and wife so they tag-team the comments and bullying. I too am very appreciative of I was out of work for a year….but after 11 months here and no let up…I’m afraid the only option left is to look for another job…exhausting just thinking about it.

    • shelly trent

      I am going through the same thing. I am truley sorry for you but have to admit that it is nice to know I am not alone. I was at a different job and doing so well they did not want me to leave! i started a new job and was doing well still until I switched departments. I think my issue is a combination of taking the job that a bully did not want me to have. She tried to ruin me by focusing on small errors instead of teaching me. She got so out of line that someone reported her which lead to her getting in trouble and then her being out for my blood. Now her best friend is working with us as my supervisor and she is exactly like the supervisor you describe. I think it is a case of revenge for her best friend but she has convinced our employer that I am a liability to the company of something to get their support. Mean people just need to go live by themselves on an island!

      I feel better for ranting too! Sorry for your situation 🙁

  • Anon

    This blog is amazing! Tsuris…I feel the very same way. I was laid off from a great job that I loved waking up for each day. I was confident, had a lot of responsibility and was definitely on a path to success. I finally found a job after a few months in a very prestigious company, but the learning curve is incredibly steep and my colleagues seem to enjoy watching me struggle to keep up. And Tsuris – I get it all the time “just be glad you have a job”. Guess what, if you have a job – you have every right not to enjoy it, complain about it, and wish that you will had something better. I think we all need to realize that this is just a job – you can always find another (even in a bad economy).

  • shrinkingthecamel

    Anon – Hey, thanks for dropping in and sharing about your sitch!

    You guys wouldn’t believe the emails I’m getting too. Most of them are quite sad, unfortunately. So I am trying to give just a bit of encouragement wherever I can: keep your head up! Things will work out! And come here and vent whenever you want, because I am listening!

    Anon – All the best to you, my friend. I will say a prayer for you today.

  • strugglingtoprovemyself

    I’ve been working with a company for almost 5 years now. Its the first and only company I have ever worked for. I recently shifted to a separate office location but essentially within the same department. Consequently I have a new boss and a new team that I work with. In my previous team my boss and co-worker had great confidence in my abilities and I was often the go-to person when they needed help solving a problem.

    Unfortunately my new team is filled with ppl who have many more years of experience on them and I tend to feel a little isolated in this team. I so identify with many of the posts listed above about people freezing up when asked questions. I have this fear of people rejecting my ideas because of which a few times when talking with my boss I’ve expressed an idea and it comes out all muddled and just about coherent. My boss may partially understand it but worse yet I think I’ve given him the impression that I’m in-experienced. I feel almost certain that he doesnt even listen to what I have to say when I open my mouth during team meetings, he just glosses over whatever I say without even giving it a proper thought or response. Even though I’ve realised my mistake about being unclear and I am more clear now, it just doesn’t count. I’m struggling with his low-expectations to prove myself as a worthy contributor in the team. It would help greatly if he gave me constructive criticism on what is wrong with my ideas or how to improve but its sort of an awkward situation in which he just has me on his team, thinks I’m stupid and doesn’t really want to tell me that.

    Which leaves me in a quandry on how to grow and is slowly affecting my self-confidence because it is hard when everyone just expects you to fail. I had great hopes with my new team of more responsibilities, but my boss only gives me less critical work that doesn’t really stretch my skills and capabilities. I give every task I’m assigned my best, but I struggle with constantly demotivating thoughts that I’m not really making a difference or providing any real value, even though I really believe I have a lot to offer. I’m not really able to bring all my talents to making a real impact at my workplace and this often demoralizes me.

    • The Fish

      Struggling to prove…. your story sounds SO similar to what I am going through. I struggle with the exact same self defeating thoughts. Everytime I do some incorrect or out of sequence… I actually find myself verbally stating how stupid I am… I know I need self talk in a positive way – that just seems so far out of reach for me sometimes. I have a lot to offer… but you know what task I walked away with from this last meeting….. I was volunteered to put all of the other’s ideas and input in a binder. Now surely I can do that….

      I am smart, I know I am…. but I just can’t find my groove to prove it in this job. I feel your pain. This is a great site and hopefully you and I both can come out of this fog that surrounds us and shine like we should be able to.

  • shrinkingthecamel

    Dear Struggling-

    Well, you have done a good job of articulating the jumbled mess of what feeling stupid at work is like. You hit several important points: 1) You made one mistake that you think your boss now has totally written you off as stupid (2) you are now displaying behavior that might me consistent with that (3) All of your thoughts are telling you that you are stupid and anything you say or do will sound stupid…

    It’s a vicious cycle, my friend. Now how to reverse it? Well, here are some thoughts for you:

    – Your old boss (the one who thinks you rock) – can you enlist him to give you a hand? Do NOT be afraid to approach those alliances and ask them for help. That’s how the system works, buddy!

    – Any team members that you are developing a relationship with? You need support and an ally on the inside, too. Scope out someone who you think can get on your side – Take them out for lunch or a drink after work and show them how brilliant you really are. It will help having just one person you know who believes in you.

    – Kill the negative self-chatter!! You have got to discipline your thoughts. I don’t care how you do it, but you have got to replace all that negative talk with positive talk. I always start with God, and asking for His help on this.

    – Keep the long term view. Woody Allen said that success is 80% just showing up every day. That’s part of what you need to do – show up every day and keep looking for opportunities to shine. Over time, I bet things will turn around for you.

    Keep me posted!!

  • The Fish

    OMG. I am so glad to have found this. I am up early dreading going in to a meeting today. I am traveling w/ boss. First time ever working for a woman. More difficult in many ways.

    She is so supporting and complimentary of other women in the field. She goes on and on about how great they are and they will be moving forward in their careers. I apparently am not detail oriented and miss a comma, hyphen, or period sometimes. I would buy your book today. I am drowning in self doubt. My stomach turns every time she is in the office. I wish there was a potion that I could drink before I see her and the potion would be called “I am smart & confident” – well maybe I would shorten the name.. but anyway… In other jobs I have always recvd glowing evaluations… she graded me as average last year – it was my first year in the role. I have been in the company for a little over a year. I feel like I am so lost sometimes.

  • shrinkingthecamel

    Hey Fish:

    Why not approach her and ask her exactly what she wants from you? What are the few specifics that you should focus on the most to improve your evaluation? At least she will think that you are taking her seriously.

    I once had a boss (female) tell me I would never get promoted. Luckily, she moved out of state a few months later, and I got a new boss (also female). Luckily, she got laid off after a few more months, and I pitched my business case to my former boss’s boss and he loved it. But during that whole time with the former bosses I was GETTING PREPARED for the right move at the right time. Use this time to grow and grab onto something that you can use to make your mark in your area, to prove to the next boss what you are capable of. Sometimes we just have to wait things out and make the most of it while we can. Go and read my post called “Black Swans and Defining Moments” for more on this. copy these links..

    and here

  • The Fish

    Thank you. I did read the Black Swans bit. Good reading. I know that part of my issue is that I have no self confidence and am not happy with who or what I am. I am alway comparing myself to others and wanting to be like they are… or like they “appear” to be in my eyes. I feel like a cameleon at times. I just long to fit in – – in any situation I am in. I find it hard to be myself and to be relaxed… mainly because I don’t truly think I know who I AM. I feel like such an outsider in this company sometimes. My boss is so kind and “girlie talk” goofy with some of the others on “our team”. It seems more like some of them are girl friends on an outing rather than co-workers at a meeting. Yesterday at the airport going home my boss was standing 20 feet from me at the gate… granted she was on the phone and typing in to her black berry… but she never came over to me and said anything at all to me.. never even acknowledged I was there. We were on the same flight. I suppose I should have or could have gone over to her… but she just makes me so uncomfortable. I feel like I make her uncomfortable as well. I dont’ think she likes being around me. I don’t like being around her.. I think it is a cycle. Anyway.. .seems when we travel “together” that we are not together at all. There is so much to this story I just really want to feel confident. My plan is to bide my time in my current position and continue to improve in my duties under my current boss and see where this next evaluation leads me and then try and transfer to a different position within the company. Your site has been most helpful and I truly have enjoyed looking around it and reading your posts. You are a very good writer and have a wonderful way with words. Thanks for all the help you offer to ppl.

  • Luce

    At my workplace I complained about the noise level (of others at the workplace. Basically one of the bosses said it was my problem. If I wanted to sound proof my office, then I could do that at my expense. But, she said, no one in the building should have to worry about noise, no exceptions. For some reason this makes me feel like an idiot. Now I’m spending a fortune sound proofing my office. That’s an expense that makes me feel stupid. Losing this argument makes me feel stupid. I just feel stupid.

  • shrinkingthecamel

    Luce – Man on man, you are in quite a quandry!! Sounds like the work environment just doesn’t fit your work-style, and your boss is saying “Get over it!” Maybe it would have been better to poll a few others to see if the noise complaint could have been brought forward by several employees rather than just you… Then it wouldn’t get singled out as “your” problem. But too late for that, I guess. Maybe next time? Just a thought.

    I bet once you’ve sound-proofed your office and everyone sees how awesome it is, they will all start visiting you and realizing what a brilliant move it was. They’ll say, “Wow, Luce was so smart and bold to soundproof his office – and he is so much more productive now!”

    Really, I think the most important thing you can do is keep a positive, upbeat attitude about the whole thing. Maybe even make light of it, so your co-workers don’t think of it as a big deal. People may very well respect you for it in the end.

  • Sammy_dee

    This blog starting to help me feel better today.

    All of the posts here sound like they are from very professional business people. I am still in my teens and work at a fast food restaurant. I feel stupid all of the time! I make stupid little mistakes here and there, but even when I try to talk myself out of it and remind myself that nobody is perfect, it doesn’t seem to work.

    Today I got a message from my boss regarding a mistake I made. When I was at the cash register the other day, a customer gave me rolls of coins in exchange for bills. Being stupid me, I didn’t check them and they turned out to be full of pennies instead of dimes… I felt so lousy and worthless the entire day.

    I’m constantly comparing myself to my superiors and my fellow employees, but I feel like I’m the most stupid employee there. And I KNOW it’s a confidence issue. I don’t trust myself and people can easily make me question myself. How can I become more confident and not feel like such a stupid person all of the time? It’s really destroying my spirit…

    Thank you to whoever bothered to read this or respond to it.

  • Martin

    STC, thanks a lot for this and the previous post on feeling stupid at work. I was one of those folks that searched in google for “feeling stupid at work” and was directed right to this blog.

    I am a friendly, hard-working and I’d like to think, intelligent person and I believe everyone in the small office I work in likes me…except I’m not sure about my boss.

    I am a young professional and have a higher degree and job in a forward-thinking and challenging field, but can’t get past a certain point with my boss. Others in the office have praised my work; one of my superiors even told me once that I was the best writer in the office.

    It seems as though my boss doesn’t see the good work I do, and never fails to point out the smallest mistake. He doesn’t recognize when I come up with ideas, and has even later posed them as his own. Most of my true mistakes are interpersonal communication errors with my boss. He sometimes calls out these mistakes in front of my coworkers with an arrogant smirk on his face, which not only makes me feel stupid but also embarrasses me. I am then left speechless or in a state of anxious confusion where I’m not able to clearly articulate my thoughts. Lately, it’s as though I feel this way whenever I’m communicating with him. The worst part is that I think he thinks I’m even more stupid than he thought before because of this.

    I agree with your 4 reasons to feel okay about feeling stupid posted on your previous blog. But I want to confront the issue so my boss trusts me more. I just don’t know where to begin. In fact, I’ve been in a stalemate in terms of new project-related opportunities for about a year. My boss seems especially unwilling to have me work with our clients because he doesn’t appear to have any faith in my communication skills.

    Any ideas on how to get past this wall?

    Much thanks, Martin

  • Hi Martin! Thanks for dropping by. It sounds like you’ve got a realistic, objective assessment of the situation, and are approaching it directly by wanting to confront your boss about getting him to trust you more. You are absolutely on the right track – because your attitude is mature, calm and direct rather than emotionally charged and vengeful. Therefore, I am confident that you will see this through!

    Now, here’s what I would do if I were you.

    First of all, I would get some due-diligence started. Are there others in your office whom you trust that you can get some feedback from? Casually ask, “Oh, it’s funny that it seems my boss doesn’t have confidence in my work. What do you think?” Try to get a couple other perspectives to confirm what you are feeling, or get additional insight as to the operating style of your boss. Is he singling you out? Does he do this to all of his new hires, to “test” them? Does he have a history of playing favorites? etc.

    Next, I would pull together any documentation you have that speaks to your performance – Evaluations, reviews, examples of superior work done, etc so that you have an aresnal of hard data which references your good work.

    Then, work up the nerve and schedule that meeting with your boss. Yes, you definitely need to have that one-on-one conversation. Be sure to script it out, so you know EXACTLY what you want to say. It should go something like this:

    – I believe I have been performing good work here and adding value to the organization (give your examples)

    – I would like to contribute more to the team, and I would like to know what I need to be doing in order to do so (again, give examples of times where you think you should have been given an opportunity, and ask why you were not)

    – Is there anything that you think I should be improving on in my work? Admit that you may get tongue-tied at times, but you are WORKING on that, and want to communicate better with him.

    These questions should get you some feedback from the boss without coming off like you are pissed off and defensive (which you want to avoid). INstead, it sound like you are interested in improving your self, your position and your contributions. Above all, LISTEN to the feedback and make a plan to address whatever he/she presents.

    Some of this may just be gaining confidence over time with this guy. You must push through!

    Hope this helps a little. Let me know how it goes!

  • Jim

    I did write in boss makes you feel stupid. This is after months of writing how to deal with difficult people and harrassment at work and speaking with my union.

    It is not uncommon for me to feel frequently incompetent.

    – rescheduling meetings just to find out the new meeting date is already taken but not written anywhere for me to know.

    -not being told where he is so I can fully understand where he is or what to tell his supervisors when he will be back. Just to find out that I should have told them something vague and untrue.

    -If i don’t answer fast enough to a question because I am on the phone or speaking to someone else… I get the I NEED YOU NOW NOT IN 5 MINUTES. In fact I was told one day that his dog comes to him when he snaps his fingers. 1. I didn’t know he had a dog. 2. Why would i care what his dog does? 3. Yes it was degrading.

    -During meetings i have to take notes. Well, i get told quite frequently to read it back to him because my notes are not enough.

    I transfered down to take this job because my husband got a promotion.

    It is a nation wide company. (an autonomous office) I don’t fit in. I have the same education as the other people and infact I have more understanding of other positions due to working in a remote location (uncentralized) so I can do anyones job. *maybe not as well* I am not bragging only stating a fact. But I can do it.

    I am not the same ethnicity so that is hard. I didn’t think it would be because I was majority in the previous town. I have been attempting to find my keffe (it left after my first appraisal.) I was drawn out to be (not forecasting, unreliable and inconsistant) My last 5 (we get them yearly) i was given excellent and infact positive rewards. Now if i do good i get nothing. If i do bad I get nothing. So i attempt to get my keffe back because it has been wittled away. Now I have nothing nice to say about my boss even to co workers who feel he is the best thing since since since man was invented. They don’t know him just that he is number 2 man. He jsut finished acting #1 man. So most just want to join the oh so important realm as he calls it. Where people go to honor the top brass. “knighted” – his words. Title has never been important to me. I have never felt it was what I was meant to honor. Acts, integrity and ability is more me. My keffe has wittled down to just core resentment and hatred. I fight with my ability to tell him to pound sand but i found after reading as much as I could. I am passive. He knows it. my coworkers see it and keep telling me to keep my head up but mainly i feel like I must be stupid. How can I ever measure up to the great #2. He is the most important. What will I do that draws his attention to me in a negative way. Nothing is worth as much as him. I never measure up and will never be par. Yes i agree with having a good home life. Without my spouses support I would be in a state of depression. Heck I might even be there now cause I don’t think people write like this while in a state of positive-about-me moods.

  • Beede

    I don’t feel stupid because I’m in over my head. I’m not being asked to do anything more than I’ve done before.

    No, I feel stupid because I can no longer do what I used to be able to do. Which I think means that I’m either dementing (though there is no family history, and I’m young enough that dementia is unlikely) or completely and utterly burned out on this job from being asked to do creative, but boring, things. Over and over again.

    Here’s a sample: Think through the implications (of whatever) for the client. Analyze. Summarize your thoughts. Write them down. Oh, and remember that our future business (i.e. your next paycheck) relies on those thoughts being so blindingly insightful and compellingly expressed that the clients’ eyes literally melt from their orbits.

    All right, you caught me. I never actually melted anyone’s eyeballs, but I used to be able to come up with thoughts that seemed insightful to me, that the bosses thought were first-rate, and that the clients said they found valuable. Now, I can’t get past the first hurdle. Nothing I come up with seems worth writing down. Everything I come up with seems stupid – either grossly obvious or unjustifiable.

    Compounding the problem is the lack of motivation. These “insights” stink. They’re so bad that I don’t even want to think that I ever had these thoughts. So how much effort am I really putting into polishing the way they’re expressed?

    It’s like writers’ block without the romance.

    • Hmmmm. If you can’t fake it any more, then it sounds like you need a change of pace, to do something else for a while, my friend. But before you run off, have you confirmed with others that your insights are really so stupid? Sometimes the best ideas are obvious. The most brilliant books and concepts are often very simple and straightforward – common sense, really. Are you expecting too much from yourself?

      In any case, you need to get re-juiced up again. How about taking some time to attend an industry conference or convention, to get a fresh perspective on things while in a sunny, resorty location? Tell the boss you need more insights to keep up with the insights. I bet your boss will understand completely.

      And let me know what happens!

  • writers’ block without the romance…

    i like that.

  • Beede

    Thanks for the advice. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the need for a change of pace/re-juicing.

    It’s not clear that my employer will allow that (I’m not even sure they’d let me go to a conference on company time if I paid my own way), and I have some concern about where addressing the issue of burnout would lead. Still, you’ve tended to validate my sense that this does need to be addressed somehow, and I’m grateful.

    I’d be happy to drop a line once things have sorted out. Thanks again.

  • Monkey

    I recently started my new job at a leading ad agency. I’ve had some previous experience in this capacity and this was communicated during my interview.

    For the first day or two, I’ve had several co-workers come up to me, introduced themselves and tell me that they’re glad to have someone familiar to the inner-workings of the job on their team. What they don’t know is that my experience comes from a smaller agency and on a significantly smaller scale. (Think 100:1)

    I feel that they might be overestimating my abilities.

    That said, I feel absolutely stupid not being able to catch up on what is actually going on with my assigned accounts. It’s been 3 days and I have been scouring bits of information here and there trying to piece things together. I’m still not able to see the whole picture of things.

    I understand the concept of a learning curve but seriously, I feel that I’m way in over my head and everyone I meet now seems to be shining with an aura of intelligence whereas I’m stuck at my desk having an anxiety attack on what I don’t know.

    I have an assistant that’s been there for 3 months and even she’s more clued in than I am. I’ll be having another assistant join next week and at that point, I have no idea how to help her, let alone provide any direction.


    I was dieing to get this job but now it seems I might not be ready for the role!

  • Monkey, monkey, monkey. You need a plan, my friend. Don’t just sit at your desk scouling in a panic attack while picking away at bits of information. Create your own orientation program! Since no one has done this for you, you need to show the team that you are no dummy, and that even a superstar who comes in fresh of the street is going to need a ramp-up phase. Break down the business into chunks of information that you need to know: by account, function, people, etc. Then go around and interview as many people as you can, saying, “I am trying to get my arms around the agency and it’s strategy and accounts, so that I can arrange my priorities. Can you tell me everything you know about x?” Set up a number of questions that will help you feel more in control of the situation. This way you are asking everyone for help, but in a very smart way.

    Listen, no one expects a new person to come on board and get everything in three days. I don’t care how brilliant you are. Think more like three months, just to get your feet wet. You have GOT to give yourself a break and stop the negative self-talk.

    Finally, don’t blow this opportunity for yourself. They hired you because you have experience. This job could change the course of your career history if you keep your wits about you and control the anxiety. Take one day at a time, and focus on learning rather than delivering brilliant results right now. Confidence comes over time. Don’t cave in.

    Come back in four weeks and tell me how it’s going.

  • Meredith

    I am a 36 year old college graduate who is an Executive Assistant. My first “real” position was an Administrative position at an HR consulting company. Since this was my first admin job I was able to learn and grow. I was with this company for nearly 5 years, and then left the position for a higher paying job. I joined an Accounting firm. I had no idea what I was doing but managed. I supported 5 individuals and handled their schedules (day to day). These people were extremely needy and busy at the same time. No one was there to train me or even help me out as well. I worked there for over a year and after about 16 months was told I was being let go because “I was not the kind of Executive Assistant they wanted”- Now keep in mind I had been there for over year. No one ever communicated anything with me, ever. Getting laid off in a sense scarred me, but I managed to get a job I loved. I ended up at a travel company as an Executive Assistant. All was great, or so I thought. I ended up working with a woman who completely crushed my confidence. I am a very nervous person to begin with so intimidation seems to approach me everywhere I go. I worked there for nearly 2 years and was once again laid off (the company was merging). That was in October 2008. Upon getting laid off, my father suddenly got very sick and ended up passing away in June 2009. For over 6 months I took care of him (with the help of my sisters) 24/7. After he passed I knew I had to get a job. I was still really nervous about my skills. I was basically doubting my skills at any sort of office work, but ended up landing my current job as an Executive Assistant/Office Manager at a Management Consulting firm. I started in August of 2009 and it was rocky. If I am not sure of myself, I tend to make mistakes and once I make one, I make another etc….. I managed to get into the groove and was doing great until this week. In the past 2 weeks I have made dumb mistakes (purchasing non refundable airline tix, calendar timing issues, typos etc.) I leave feeling like a complete IDIOT and really am hard on myself. I am afraid of getting fired and seriously thinking I stink at working. I often wonder if I could even manage working in even the most mundane job. Part of my brain knows that is negative thinking but the other part is taking over. I do great work but once I mess up I continue to. With the mess ups come tons of negative thoughts and crying spells. Tonight I could cry for hours, beating myself up for being and IDIOT! I seriously don’t know what my problem is. It is like a switch—when I am on, I am on and when I am off I am off…ARGGGGGHHHH I hope I don’t get fired…

  • Meredith: Your first order of business, young lady, is to manage yourself. Yes, you need to take control of your own self, and quick. This negative self-talk is spinning out of control, and your other half (the real, better you) has got to take charge immediately. So what does that mean? Begin a rigorous boot-camp program of self-esteem and personal growth to boost your confidence and consciously manage your thoughts. Your personal program should go something like this: 1. Read, read, read. Get some personal growth books that will motivate, encourage and inspire you. Let me know if you need help and I will put a list together for you.

    2. Get a personal coach. You need someone to keep you line, to tell you that you can do it, and not to give in. Is there a friend, a confidante? A shrink? (Seriously, therapy can be life-altering)

    3. Make a list of your strengths and focus on them for a good while. Try the book StrengthsFinder 2.o

    4. Actively learn from others. Start meeting with people you admire at work and tell them you are looking to improve your performance – ask them what they think you can do to do better at work, how to learn and grow

    5. Be proactive with your boss. Get a development plan together for your boss to be part of the program, so that he or she can buy into your growth as a person and as a professional.

    Meredith – these are just some quick ideas as I head out to work this morning. Really, don’t give in to those self-defeating thoughts. You are better than that. And deep down, you know it.

    Come back and tell me how you are doing.

    • Meredith

      I am back on this site to give an update!

      When I wrote my posting, I was a mess. Tons of confidence issues and really just spinning downward!

      I took your advice and began reading on how to brush up on my Executive Assistant skills. I was proactyive and began to get into a routine. Soon the negative feelings left.

      Last Friday my position was eliminated. I still feel a bit nervous but overall and am sort of relieved. I now have the opportunity to meet withe career counselors and really decide what I want to do. I know one thing for sure- I like working with people, I care what happens to people and for me sitting in an office is not how I would want to spend my working years.

      I owe you alot! Thank you for reading my post and responding! Thanks for the advice and for pointing me in the right direction- for sanity’s sake!

      • Bravo!

        See? We really are changing the world through blogging!

        Meredith, the bottom line is you will be successful because you are willing to take your bad experiences and learn from them by mobilizing yourself to become a better person. You’ll do great, I have no doubt.

      • Meredith Baker

        I am here with another update….

        I still am unemployed, but in the meantime have been temping at various companies. I just finished a 2.5 week assignment supporting a CEO of a Boston area Non-Profit. I was nervous but said my daily meditations that I am good enough, I can do a good job, I am a good employee…and guess what..I got an email from the CEO stating the following (I emailed him first thanking him for the opportunity to work with him because he was in meetings when I left yesterday):

        I am so glad you e-mailed because I realized yesterday evening that I did not say thank you to you for the great help you were these past two weeks. I enjoyed your company, your work ethic and your efficient and effective work style.

        Thank you so much. I am not sure if you are looking for a permanent job but if you are you could send me your resume and I can circulate it among my senior staff and to colleagues.

        I was sooo grateful to get this email (and for the chance to send my resume along was a definite PLUS!)! I CAN DO IT!!! WE ARE NOT DUMB/STUPID/IDIOTS!!! We only think we are because other people tell us that! Don’t listen to them!! Trust me I listened for over 2.5 years and when I originally posted was a complete mess!!!!

        THANK YOU!!!

  • Wow, I think you’ve opened a can of worms here, Bradley. Definately something that needs to be addressed. Maybe it’s partly due to poor managers; when someone believes in you and your work (even with occasional mistakes) your confidence grows. But if you don’t have that kind of support, and especially if you’re new at a job, I think it can lead to self doubt. And maybe with more people losing jobs and starting over at new ones, there are more insecurities? Add that to the fear of losing a job right now and managers knowing they can fire someone at a moment’s notice (at least in Idaho) and know they can fill that job quickly.

    The other part of this is blocking the negative self talk before it gets out of control… for some, a constant challenge.

  • Argyles

    I leave work every day feeling like I’m a complete moron. I work in the social services field and I manage a program for people below the poverty level to get an opportunity to go to school, find sutible employment, and learn life skills. My program is really good, has great numbers, and I’m passionate about my people. The problem is my supervisor wants me to help out other people in our office and that makes me nervous. When I started I was thrown in with no training, kind of learn as you go, so I didn’t know I wasn’t doing things right. About 4 months ago they re-hired someone who worked there for 6 years and knows all the rules and regulations that I apparently don’t. My boss constantly compares me to this person and how much better they are than I am at about everything. We have a meeting and it turns into a praise session of this person. Now if my boss told me what she wanted me to do, then I’d be doing it.

    I go to work every day, EVERY DAY, saying “I’m going to do a great job” and no matter what, I fail at something. My boss stops me no mater what I’m doing to make me come up front and be the clerical aid, make copies, answer the phone, or file. I hate this, I didn’t get a BA degree to do someone’s over flow; but I don’t complain I always come up to people and ask what I can do to help them, if they need copies or whatever. I don’t complain when I have to use my own car and gas to run errends, I don’t complain when I have to go hand deliver 50 letters to an apartment complex across town when they don’t want to use the postage. Dosen’t matter, I frown once and suddenly “I do nothing but complain”.

    My boss also has the habbit of lying to me about anything. She wants to make something more severe so she makes up some regulation or rule in hopes that I’m too dumb to question it. She is also a micromanager (but swares up and down that she’s not). I need approval for everything and I have to wait hours to get a signature on something, which always puts me behind. She wants me to be a team player so I do everything I can to help, but it’s never good enough.

    This leaves me thinking about what is wrong with me and why I’m not doing a good job outside my program. If they would hire someone to do clerical, I think it would completely solve the problem, or nearly. I’m tired of crying every day, I’m tired of needing anxiety medication because I live in fear. I want my life back.

  • 615.Faculty

    I am a trainee at a US Higher Learning Institution and I work for a very nice man, a great general surgeon, educator and mentor. He always thinks before he speaks, extremely tolerant, understanding and patient. He leads by example and many people try to emulate him.

    Unfortunately, since he is a well-respected administrator at a higher learning institution, younger faculty are always trying to impress him – by trying to be or show that they are “keaders”, that they are innovative, perfect, they generate great ideas and address very hard and important questions.

    When I joined the institution, I was a little nervous and I even felt like I was a fish out of water for a very long time. AND often, I’ve felt VERY stupid. Especially, at conferences and seminars when I would make comments and ask questions and immediately after wards I regret having asked the question. Then I overanalyze everything even when I am still sitting in the seminar – like, “Have I misunderstood the question?”, “Oh, crap, that wasn’t a good comment!” or “Oh no, damn it, I should have kept my mouth shut and shouldn’t have said anything!”. The younger faculty do very little to help me out. Even if you approach them and ask “how do you think it went? Did you think my question made sense?” etc.

    The answer is often not very positive. I think sometimes they do this to make themselves feel better and make myself feel bad. As is often the case in academia. Academia is not a warm and fuzzy place.

    So then I walk around all day just beating myself up, and I stress out and sometimes, I hate myself for thinking like this – and I analyze and over analyze everything. And I tell myself that I should not do that ever ever open my mouth and say anything again at seminars- but the,, at the next seminar/meeting, I do the same thing – ask a question then immediately feel totally embarrassed after wards.

    Then, sometimes, when I get a “neutral/ambiguous” comment from a Professor or my boss, I think “was that a positive comment or a negative comment?” and then I talk to other people and they never say anything positive (like, “Yeah, that was good question” or “Your comment was interesting”) . So, when I go home, I beat myself up and all these questions go round and round in my head.

    This whole process of feeling angry with myself for participating in discussions etc lasts for quite some time and some times, I even avoid talking to my boss because I feel too embarrassed that he thinks I’m stupid etc.

    I have never ever felt this way before. NEVER. Only since I’ve joined this institution.

    The truth is, I feel like – since I was given such an excellent recommendation by my previous boss and a number of colleagues: I feel the pressure of having to live up to my reputation. But, on the other hand, I’ve always been a great participant at seminars, lectures, classes, etc. Back in the day, I never cared about what other people thought of me.

    Now, I seem to worry too much about it. I don’t know how to control this feeling.

    Why do I feel so stupid after I ask questions or make comments in a meeting/seminar?

    A lot of the times, I feel like I ask better questions that most people.

    90% of the people in the room don’t even talk – they don’t even want to be there.

    So I know that I am not doing anything wrong. Rather, I am doing everything that I am supposed to do – ask questions if I don’t understand so that I learn, speak up if I have an idea, don’t be afraid to share ideas and or make comments so that other people might also benefit from my comments etc.

    It’s just right after wards that I’m like : “Drats, I should have asked the question like this, and answered the question like that”, “Why didn’t I use better words?” or “Why didn’t I be more concise with my answer”>>>the list goes on and on,…

    • Hey 615 Faculty – Can I just cut to the chase and say that you are right? And you know it, too, based on what you wrote here.. You are TOTALLY OVERANALYZING your situation – odds are that you actually are asking the better questions, showing your smarts, displaying interest and engagement in the seminars, and, well – DUH – no one is going to go out of their way to acknowledge how smart you are. Because, (and you know this too, deep down) everyone else there is equally insecure about their image and impressions. So it’s a low-risk situation. When there is an environment of one-upping and showmanship which promotes insecurity, then you don’t have anyone left who is grounded enough to take the time or effort to recognize or acknowledge anyone else. It’s a scarcity mentality.

      So here’s a thought: as you continue to put yourself out there and ask great questions, why don’t you also be the first one to encourage and acknowledge others, too> You might endear some folks to you that way, and they might just return the favor. But maybe not. In any case, it would show you are taking the higher road.

      Come on, man. You are above this crap. You’re going to shine. Show them what it’s like to not be so afraid all the time.

  • 615.Faculty

    That should have been “leader”

  • Julie

    After reading most of the stories posted here I feel compelled to chime in. I could have written a lot of these posts myself during the 18 years I worked for a major bank. All of the feelings of nervousness, self-doubt, destructive negative thoughts playing nonstop in my head – I’ve been there. I had many different bosses through those years, and some were very supportive and complementary, while others sensed my insecurity and seemed to enjoy playing off of it. I knew that I was doing a good job most of the time, but I let some of those bosses get to me. And I began to realize that I was in the wrong place.

    What did I do? I left. My young children gave me the perfect excuse to leave my career and stay at home for a while. I knew, however, that finances would eventually force me back into the work place. As they say, timing is everything and nearly 4 years ago my church needed someone with an accounting background. I jumped at it, got the job, and have never been happier.

    I just want to encourage those of you who are struggling to keep your head up, be persistent, and really listen to your true inner voice – if work feels like a constant uphill battle all the time and you’re always feeling stupid, maybe you are “in the wrong place” or at least in the wrong company. If your current situation is unbearable, start planning your next move where you can thrive – don’t be afraid to dream of a career that allows you to fulfill God’s purpose for you and feed your family at the same time. I know that opportunities are harder to come by in the current economic environment, but be prepared when they do present themselves. Good luck!

    • Julie – Your comment is so encouraging. Why are we afraid to dream what would make us most happy and fulfilled? It’s this fear that says, “no, that can’t happen. It’s impossible, besides, you’re not good enough.”

      Kill that voice!! It can happen, like it did for you, over time. It takes planning, dreaming, killing your fear, taking risks and stepping out in faith. It requires patience and self-awareness. Anything is possible.

      Thanks, Julie. for showing us hope.

  • 615.Faculty


    I am above all this crap. I agree with you. I have been here almost a year but long enough to know this lab quite well now. This lab is always like this. This is why my boss has been unsatisfied and unhappy for a long time until I came along. I’m energetic, excited about my work and passionate about research in general. And, I am productive. Almost a year and I have a couple of manuscripts in preparation. Most of them have been here more than a year or 6 years or more and generated very little.

    The junior faculty are running out of ideas and losing their funding (or still can’t get funding because they have not got ideas for a great experiment etc.).

    When I first got here, I was “bossed” around and they liked to tell me what I should do what esp. when we’re in a seminar in front of my boss and now, when they try to do that, I tell them straight to their faces with my boss present that I’ve already done it. AND that I have data to show for it and if they want to see it, I can show them.

    At a meeting last week, the same thing happened when I told that I already pursued that idea and I already sent the data to the boss. But, that I did not want to focus on that arm of the work because I have something more innovative that I would like to pursue.

    Last week was the week I’ve had it with these people. In 2 months, it will be a year since I’ve been here but I’m already tired of the b___s___ (although they are nice) but they are so insecure about everything. EVERYTHING. I wish they would just grow up and get over it. It’s not high school anymore.

    Furthermore, I am tired of having people in this dept. always telling what to do, and not to do and how to act etc. One of them likes to tell me that I should not be so excited and enthusiastic about everything because that’s not how my boss is. WHY would you do that?? I am who I am and I like research and yes, I am always enthusiastic about data and my work. This is my personality. A lot of people in academia always pretend to be someone they’re not. I’ve seen this before. We go into a meeting with our boss and they’re kissing the boss’s ass and always appearing like they’re perfect. Then the minute we leave the meeting, behind the boss’s back they bitch about him/her. At least I don’t do that. I am who I am with my boss all the time. Never faking anything or hiding my personality. Bosses aren’t stupid. High level institutional leaders are not that stupid. They’ve been educators for a very long time. They can see right through to you. They’ve worked with hundreds, if not educated a 1000 students in their life time. They wouldn’t be where they are now if they didn’t know how to educate or lead people of various temperament and personalities.

    The funny thing is: everyone else likes to tell me to be someone that I am not except my boss. My boss is very nice. He doesn’t judge people for their personality and they know that people can be themselves because we’re supposed to be focused on getting our work done and to do science. Not sit there and talk about people and their personalities. I wish the junior faculty here would grow up and be better role models.

  • Suzanne

    Boy, you got me. I did a Google search typing “I feel stupid at work.” I’m 3 months into a job and I feel like I can’t do anything right. The trouble is, I used to do a similar job at another company. I knew this one would expose me to different tools/work applications, but I’m really really struggling to learn them. As for how you can help — can you help people to learn how to work from people who may not be experts at teaching others? Or worse- people who think they are really good at it? It might also be helpful to talk about learning from people that you are uncomfortable with. Here’s a deep personal admission from me: I’m 26/female and learning from a 25 year old female. It’s physically painful. I’m insecure enough, but learning from someone younger — and feeling that they think I’m an idiot — is unbearable.

    I think another part of the pain point is that I actually have more job experience than this person. How can I learn from someone who is less experienced (but more experienced in m actual job?) It doesn’t feel good, and it’s making it harder to learn. I don’t like admitting I don’t understand things — and I realize that most of it is my own fault.

    Phew. I feel better acknowledging the problem… but help me to fix it, please!

    • Good. Acknowledging is a start. I can see how frustrating that can be, especially if she is not teaching you very well (or if she never wanted to teach you in the first place!). But the truth is, in a few months you will be running circles around her. You must be patient. And not get caught up in the superiority-inferiority thing. Who cares about her age or who has more experience! Get over it, and just get into the learning. That’s what’s critical, and your current mindset only gets in the way of that. Let go of all that, and sit at this woman’s feet until you know what you need to know. In fact, tell her that. Tell her that you are completely and utterly dependent on her and you so dearly appreciate her time and energy she is spending to teach you. Bring her a cappuccino tomorrow. Endear yourself to her, and see if that takes you further. You might as well enjoy it, since you can’t avoid it.

      Let me know how it goes.

  • Paula

    The last few days have been unbearable for me. I discovered that I made a “STUPID” mistake on a billing. Something that once I look at it is very clear to see. I have always been uncomfortable about how I was told to complete the billing, that I found myself contacting the billing manager to clarify how it should be done and she repeatedly told me the same thing every time and that I was doing it correctly. Well, once again I decided to call her for the umpteenth time to verify that I was doing it correctly and I guess she was tired of me calling her so she decided to refer me to the account manager. The account manager confirmed that my gut feeling was right; I have been processing the bill incorrectly. I feel horrible. I feel that I normally do excellent work in my position and there are some aspects of my job that I really enjoy. I have found that when I work so hard not to make mistakes that I end up making mistakes. I am not looking forward to telling my manager because I am so concerned about the outcome.

  • srftyuplöä

    I’ve just had the shittiest week at work, and I wanted to read other miserable sods complain in order to make me feel less alone.

  • Yes!! Well, actually, more that my skill set is ill suited to my job or vice versa. Happens all the time. I’m not bad at my job, but I’m a whole lot better at other things. Having degrees in my field just makes the feeling more intense.

    So glad you came across and commented my blog…loving yours!

  • 615 Faculty

    This is my second post. This time, I have less to say. I had a couple of people picked on me, humiliated me and tried to sabotage my work when I first started. Then I stood up for myself and now things are okay. But I find that my mentors are now becoming more and more insecure whenever I come up with better ideas, strategies etc. Even to the point where they “refuse” to supply letters of recommendation when they said they would be happy to write one. If they wrote one for me it’s too late because the deadline has passed. Where in the world should I go where bosses are encouraging, supportive, do things they said they were going to do that is, have integrity, and not feel insecure if your mentee is doing his or her job well and exceeds expectations?

  • Eric

    I quit a certain local ISP back in June of ’10 because I could not get full time hours. After a futile job search I eventually landed a full time position back at the company working in a higher up position that involves a LOT more work. The thing is, I now work under a different boss. He is a nice person outside of work, but at work he is constantly belittling me by telling me things I should know (some things I havent even been trained on!) and saying things like “You seem to be doing good, but I havent audited you yet.” It’s to the point where I literally feel like I cant work effectively when he’s around out of fear of screwing up or making a mistake. He openly admits “People see me here as a tyrant, and I’m okay with that.”. Help! :S

    • Ouch! That is a tough spot to be in, my friend. Since he apparently is a nice person at the core (outside of work), I would think this is a case where he might be open to dialogue. Why don’t you work up the nerve to sit down with him and explain that his overbearing demeanor is making you less productive, not more. If you present yourself professionally, without looking weak, it may work, and he may even respect you more because of it. If it doesn’t work, I would march down the hall to HR to discuss implementation of 360 degree review evaluations (where employees have the chance to anonymously evaluate their bosses). See what they have to say about that!

  • AB

    I am an office coordinator at a small non profit and my supervisor, the associate director, keeps giving me the simplest tasks, say, “Please put this in ABC order,” and then tacking on the confidence shattering phrase of “If you have any questions about this, let me know, ok?” or “If you need any help with this, ask.”

    Then she’ll turn around and give me a hard project and explain it very little and then will act like I am bothering her by asking her to clarify what in the hell I’m supposed to be doing. It’s getting discouraging, because I am NOT stupid, and in fact, I am doing continuing education while I am working so that I can be more qualified for a a more independent type job in the future. How do I handle this woman?

    • “How do I handle this woman?”

      A profound question indeed. I think the issue with managers like this is that they assume way too much, and are themselves very poor at teaching/training/coaching others. Add to that a lack of compassion, or an empathetic spirit, and you have the makings of a human dumping grounds.

      The first line of defense is always to plead for more and better communication. Let her know you are going to have more questions with a task that you are completely unfamilar with, and perhaps she might have to spend a few more minutes with you in explanation. If I were you, when she explains the project or task, I would hold her in place with a barrage of questions before she has a chance to get away. Keep firing one question after another regarding the project until she has explained it sufficiently. Be a pest about it.

      Try this first. And let me know how it goes.

  • Renee

    I am part of a team at my workplace. We are made up of 9 women and 1 man. Our purpose is to perform chart reviews for the hospital we work for. The team contains 4 nurses, 2 coders, and the other 4 provide insurance, billing, and support duties. I am one of the female coders. My problem is with the male member of the team who is in one of the support roles. Since the time I started with this team about 1 year ago, I have been called a weirdo, a loser, and made to feel stupid. Although there has been a learning curve with this job, I feel that I have caught on quickly, and do a good job. He does not speak to the members of the team that are nurses this way, nor does he speak to the other coder or staff members like this. He is well liked by the other members of the team, and I don’t have an issue with him other than the way he speaks to me and about me. I have treated him with the same respect that I show the other members of the team, regardless of their position. I have let these comments roll off my back figuring that when he figured out I was an assest to the team, and knew what I was doing, he would stop. This has not. Yesterday, I was referred to as “the loser” when he spoke to the nursing staff about my part in a meeting with another hospital department. I don’t want to create waves and cause trouble, as I already know I am being singled out, for whatever reason, so I don’t want to make things worse. I am having difficulty finding a way to handle this in an intelligent manner that does not make the situation worse. These comments are really starting to get to me. Sorry for the long post. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • Rene – I am afraid that you are going to have to take a stand for yourself here. It’s as simple as that. He is, for whatever reason, picking on you and continues to do so because you are allowing it. Heck, he may even think you enjoy it, if you don’t call him on it. This is simply a matter of self-respect. You must work up the nerve to either (1) ask him to meet with you privately, over coffee or something, and you can in a very nice but bold manner tell him that those derrogatory comments are hurtful to you, and you will not stand for it any longer; or (2) Lash right back at him in the moment, by saying something simple, but firm, such as, “Please stop referring to me with those rude names. I don’t appreciate it.” That might be enough. If there is a deeper problem, you will find out soon enough.

      Please, please, please, stop allowing this man to treat you this way, and be your own best ally. No one else will do this for you. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

  • Sarah

    I did find this blog by google search. And I do hope you write that book! I would buy it!

    I just read all the comments here about how others feel stupid at their workplace and it did make me feel a little better, because it means I’m not the only one and that maybe I’m not stupid, we’re all just human’s making mistakes.

    I was going to go into detail about my workplace and the problems I have had and still have, with feeling like the stupid one. Which I hate because when I was at school I was one of the smart ones and now it’s like I have morphed into the moron off the workplace. I have little confidence and major anxiety problems, none of which help matters at all, I think it causes most off them. Things that are nothing for others are major, major things for me. And people just don’t understand. Though my boss does know about the anxiety and depression I suffer and she tries to get it, but I don’t work with her. It’s my supervisor and the other staff that make me feel hopeless. But it’s such a big long story I think I’ll just leave it. I just hope the feeling I have now since reading the other comments here will carry through with me to morning and I won’t want to burst into tears the second my alarm goes off.

    I do try to do my best. But there are days when you think what is the point because it doesn’t seem to matter what good you do, when all they see is the bad.

    I’m just always the outsider that can’t connect with my co-workers, the one who forgets things (stress has damaged my memory a bit) or the one who is having so much anxiety about a task that she screws it up, not because I can’t do it because I’m scared, mainly I’m scared of being told I’m wrong. Because no joke, no matter what I do It’s wrong. I do something one way and it’s not right, later I turn around and do it the way I was told and then it’s wrong. I have no confidence to make decisions either because of this and now they think I am incapable.

    Well it looks like I went into my story a little, but anyway thank you for writing this post and I look forward to your book!

  • Susan

    I am in a new industry vertical but work in the same line of work (IT-Business Analysis) with a small company. My co-workers are highly technical and experienced in their fields. I came into the job indicating that I was not a technical person so I am trying to find some comfort in being honest and clear about my credentials. One of my greatest challenges at work is to be able to articulate myself clearly and concisely. English is my second language and I’ve always felt that lack of confidence in speaking in front of large audiences, especially in an area that I am not proficient in. Some of my co-workers are extremely articulate and skillful in explaining complex ideas in layman terms which is a skill that is required in my field. I am trying hard to overcome my shortcomings by reading, studying my material more. My professional life has always filled in with self-doubt and the feeling of inadequacy which is exhausting mentally. Sometimes, I feel that I need to be a lot more assertive proofing to my co-workers what I am about. I try to block the negative thoughts but certain days, I feel so defeated when co-workers spell out simple concepts to me – forgive me saying this- as I just arrived to this country. I’ve been here for 18 years. I think your book concept is brilliant. I think this constant idea of not being up to par at work is a serious stress, disease trigger and it contaminates so many parts of our lives. It would be great to have a tool to prepare young people how to deal with these feelings before the damage is done. Please address a section in your book for co-workers who are ESL speakers as well. There are so many of us that want to fit in, contribute, be accepted, work hard.

    • Susan – I wonder where this constant feeling of inadequacy comes from. If it were me in another country, trying to prove myself against others who master the language, I would probably feel that constant stress too – especially if a big part of my job involved articulating ideas with clarity in that other language. It seems that would be almost impossible unless you were extremely fluent in the language. Is this just something that must be accepted? That you have many strenghts and smarts, but being able to articulate ideas as well as your English-speaking counterpats is just not going to be one of them? I don’t know. I am not trying to discourage you, I am actually admiring of you for the courage and strength to step into a professional role as a second language. That must be very challenging.

  • Hi,

    I’m a young communications professional and I have been having this “I feel stupid at work” feeling lately. I work in English, while my first language is Portuguese and I’m currently living in Germany. While I’m proud that I’m good at intercultural communications, sometimes it gets pretty hard. Also, because I care so much about writing, whenever I make spelling and conjugation mistakes I feel like it is a personal fault and I’m stupid.

  • I am an intern at an MNC company in a software testing team. I am doing validation on a previous employee’s testplan with 17 testcases and it has been 4 months and I am only half-way through his testplan. I would not say that it is easy nor difficult but it’s ok; just that it can get very time consuming as just 1 testplan can take up to 2 hours to fully run.

    In the first month or so, I admit that I was quite lazy because there was no pressure to finish up my work and since I was only an intern, I just worked on the testplan in a leisurely way. But after about a month or so, one of my colleague in a meeting indirectly pinpointed that I was taking too much time on my testplan. Ever since then, I cut down my slacking time and started to work harder for the testplan. I am definitely making progress now, but I feel that it is still slow. And just last week, another colleague in my office indirectly said that I won’t be able to finish the testplan by this month.

    I feel like shit and so stupid right now. I am not slacking anymore and working late in the evenings but my progress is still not that fast enough. But then again, the previous employee who wrote the testplan had told my supervisor before leaving that an intern student won’t be able to validate his testplan. So supposedly it is quite a hard testplan to validate but I still feel that I am really slow. 🙁

    • I think interning for the most part is very difficult, because you have no previous experience, you generally get very little training or direction, and because you are temporary, the mgmt and staff don’t have much of a vested interest.

      The best thing is that you learn something from this… Especially the part about not slacking off when you first arrive. Those first impressions are hard to shake off. Next time better, right?

  • Anonymous

    Hi I’m so glad to have come across your blog it’s exactly the type of thing I was looking for when I did the Google search that has brought everyone here. I started a new job last month in a really prestigious place and I was so happy to get the position. Im a little out of my field and one of only 2 people in a group of 18 with my sort of expertise but I’m by far the junior of the two of us. As everyone else has come from a very different background I have a lot to catch up on to even try and understand what they’re talking about. Its a totally different language to me half the time so I’ve had to keep a notebook with definitions to make any sort of progress. I think the new boss may have overestimated my expertise in my own area and now realises anything I can do the other new guy in my field can do better! As the only female in this particular subgroup I really feel like they assume I’m not as useful, which is true half the time but its not a nice feeling. I. Realise I need time to settle in and learn but the boss doesn’t seem to. My first day I was given a quite a big proposal to write in a very short timeframe with no guidelines as to how to write it. Then because I found out he was meeting all the other 3ppl in my subgroup to discuss ideas for a new project I felt really left out and when of course blurted out something I hadn’t had time to think through which if course made no sense at all and just showed my ignorance. I felt so embarrassed as soon as I said it but I think I did it just to try feel included and useful. I’m still not included in the decision process and my boss just ignores me when he comes into the office now, after he asks the ppl around me how they’re getting on! The ideas seem to be needed before I’ve had time to get up to speed and I’m convinced I’m making a bad impression. At the same time I’m exhausted at the thought of trying to prove myself and not even sure if I’m on the right career track. I’d definitely buy a book if you write one!

  • JC

    I feel stupid at work, because my co-workers are all highly educated academia and research types. I went to a public, state-run university, while they all attended private institutions. I often feel lesser-than and like I don’t belong. No one treats me like I’m stupid, but sometimes I can’t help but feel like they are secretly looking down on me. My job isn’t horrible, but I can’t wait to get out of there. I just don’t fit in.

    However, sometimes I think about the different levels of intelligence – academic, intellectual, emotional, practical (street-smarts), social, technical, etc – and I don’t feel so bad. We all have our strengths and individual smarts. While I may not be the most articulate person in the world, I’m also the person everyone in the office typically goes to for troubleshooting and computer problems. I also find I have great perception and people skills. Very useful! 🙂

  • Dumb and Dumber

    D. Robinson, I completely agree.

    I came home after work today feeling so crippled the best coping mechanism I had was to sleep. I woke up at 8pm feeling no better and now at midnight, I am googling “feeling stuiped at work” hoping to stumble across something that will boost my self esteem enough so I can get up and return to my job in the morning.

    I for one, lack confidence and am completely out of my comfort zone and for two, do not feel I am in a position that exploits my strengths. My job is highly competetive, demanding and has no margin for human error. My can-do attitude has diminished and my outgoing nature and eagerness to learn has faded. I am now desperately trying to be the grey man so nobody notices my ineptiitude. I very brutally compare myself to others and base my merit on how many people are worse or more “stuiped” than I. I don’t want to judge others to feel better about myself.

    The solution is not always so simple as to find a new job but how to deal with failure, how to get comfortable out of personal comfort zones and how to restore your self esteem and confidence after you feel bruised. So, yes PLEASE write a book. I will cling to it like a life line.

    • rosa

      Oh yeah! You may be positively positive to start with! but its damn hard do find the light within again once its been stomped out! Its the climb back up that counts. I know how you feel about that no margin for human error thing ae! Im right there with you man 🙂 Keep it up you sound like a mighty fine person. And stay as positively positive as you possibly can even after you feel youve been slapped in the face 🙂 😀

  • Nichola

    I too have come home today from work and entered in Google ‘I feel stupid at work’. I wasn’t expecting anything to come up in the search so I’m very shocked and surprised to see so many people that are feeling the same way. This in itself has helped me feel better about myself already because I am not alone. I work in the Civil Service and wont bore you with the details but I just feel upset, paranoid, useless and incapable most days. I have returned to work after 13 months on Maternity leave and previously was fairly confident in my job. That confidence has disappeared. I am getting to the stage where I feel everyone around me is better at their job than me and more intelligent and its driving me mad. I sit sometimes in meetings with people and I haven’t a clue what they are talking about. Even today a simple question was asked and I messed up. Now I just think everyone thinks I’m thick. I have been back to work 6 months and I am still struggling. Please write a book i’d buy it.

    • Hey, Nichola. You can’t believe the number of google searches that come through here every day with the “I feel stupid at work” heading. There’s a lot of this going around. Now, about your situation: Is there any way you can focus on one particular area of the job or the organization and get some more in-depth training or development? You should at least identify one area that you can become “expert” in by taking initiative to dig deeper, go to seminars, interview/discuss with colleagues, take a class, etc.Once you’ve mastered it, move on to the next area. Don’t take feeling stupid sitting down! You’ve got to do SOMETHING to make yourself feel confident again, and no one’s going to do this for you. Pull yourself up!

      Best of luck!

  • Nichola I know what you feel…Even though I’m still young, it is pretty frustrating to feel like you are not an expert on anything and that others are better than you. But I feel like things have been changing at my work, maybe because I started doing some of the things shrinkingthecamel advised you. I started to focus on some areas I like and whenever I don’t get super interesting tasks, I perform them fast in order to get to learn something else that would help me advance with my career.

    Also, sometimes (at least to me) tasks that don’t seem relevant at all to you are part of the process of becoming better and you can try to make it interesting.

    Of course some days are worse than others, but I hope you get to find a way to feel better =)

  • Christine

    I recently started a new job that I am somewhat qualified for. I am finishing my master’s degree in the field and the expectation is that I know my stuff…inside and out. However, I don’t have any job experience in my field and find myself stumbling through my responsibilities…and making numerous bone headed mistakes along the way. What is worse is that I have to interact with clients and they can see that I am nervous and not completely comfortable in my position…which just makes matter worse. My constant anxiety at work also allows me to make REALLY silly errors and ask impossibly stupid questions. As a result, my co-workers look at me like I have 3 heads and I can feel their disappointment every time I make one of my NUMEROUS mistakes. I am feeling really discouraged and wonder if I am cut out for this career. I know I am capable and smart, but I am concerned I may loose my job if I don’t get it together sooner rather than later. One co-worker in particular seems to have very little patience for me and I’m afraid my boss may catch wind of this.

    Any advice would be wonderful!

  • H D

    Hi everyone, I found this blog because I feel incredibly stupid as I just lost my job as…wait for it…a cleaner. So it seems, I’m too stupid to even be a cleaner. What hope is there for someone like me? (I’ve been searching stuff like “how stupid do you have to be to lose your job as a cleaner”, “so stupid you couldn’t clean” and so on (I worked in a hotel, and apparently was taking too long doing the rooms – too slow for really basic stuff).

    I just came across JC’s comment, in which they put forward a very interesting idea – the concept of different TYPES of intelligence. So I made a list of these types (plus one other one), as follows:

    Academic, Intellectual, Emotional, Practical, Social, Technical, Artistic, Creative

    and graded myself out of 10 on each of those. My actual career is in music, I have trained as a musician since I was a child and took a Masters degree in performance, and that is a field where I am constantly told how skilled I am (while boosting my confidence, ironically I am often thinking “what actual practical use is that”!) – plus I have a talent for craft and design – so I gave myself a 10 for Artistic. Creative is different, as I put that in the box of “thinking up new ideas, being innovative” etc, which I don’t consider myself to score highly on. All the others were average-high, except for Practical which only got 3 as I’m often pretty slow at doing things and usually have to ask for instructions – as my music income is often pretty choppy and not really enough to sustain a living, I have to rely on other jobs too (such as the cleaning one I just lost) – so it seems, I’ve been in jobs which use the kind of intelligence I’m by far most lacking in, no wonder I felt useless all the time! I wonder what would happen if I got a job which somehow made use of my Emotional (8) or Technical (7) skills…(what are those jobs?)

    I also “graded” the one workmate who constantly belittled me and made me feel useless, to the best of my knowledge about her (unknown for Creative, Technical, Academic and Intellectual) and while she gets at least a 7 or 8 for Practical, she only got a 3 for Emotional (she constantly criticises unconstructively, gets in a temper and so on without any thought for anyone else’s feelings) – I for one would far rather be naturally patient, sympathetic, empathetic and considerate with people and actually make them feel good about themselves (as I like and hope to think I am and do), than be able to make a bed in 10 seconds but forsake all that!

    If you’re reading this I suggest you give that a go if you’re feeling stupid like that (oh by the way, I absolutely hate the words “stupid” and “incompetent”, I honestly believe there’s no such thing, if everyone was good at the same things the world would fall into disrepair, think about it)!

    Oh yeah – write the book 🙂

    • HD – I am sorry about your job loss. But what you write here is extremely insightful, and, I hope, empowering for you. Unfortunately, it is not easy to find a steady job or source of income using creative talents. But, yes, that would be ideally suited to align your skills. I, for instance, am terrible at mechanical things and working with my hands. I always feel stupid around car mechanics, or those who are handy working around the house. But those people couldn’t write worth a damn, or run a business, like I can.

      You are asking the right question: what kind of jobs could you do that make use of your strengths? In the end, this is something you must discover for yourself, by trying new things, research, getting educated, talking with wise counselors, and of course, reading my blog. 🙂

      I really admire your positive attitude and resourcefulness you’ve show here. Keep pushing forward. Best of luck to you.

    • rosa

      Well i like you 🙂

      • Samara

        Hi Rosa,

        Ever thought you were born to do more, and your mind was simply not on what you were doing … simply because it was so mind-numbingly dull for you? Did you feel your mind was constantly in the clouds, or all over the place? It will go to other places if it is designed for higher thinking, especially if you are more of an abstract thinker. Actually, believe it or not, it is not unusual for smart people to fail at more manual jobs.

  • I’m still pretty new in my job and I’m still learning what each little group does within the department. I think I’m doing a pretty good job of picking up things and I’ve just now, after 2 months, started getting actual stuff to do but then my director asks me to do something and I don’t do it properly and I feel stupid. I think about what I could’ve done, how I could’ve read his email, to figure out exactly what he wanted the first time. But I guess because I’m new and I don’t have enough confidence in my knowledge I took his directions at face-value. He wanted files for a project and gave me two names of who could help me get the files. Being new and still not knowing what everyone does I assumed that for this specific type of project these two people kept all the files. So I asked them to send me their files to send to him. I didn’t know that he meant they could help me find the files on a shared website and that they weren’t the only people in the department who contributed files relevant to the project.

    Then I think that if he’d just been clear in his email from the start and told me these files were on this website and I just needed to get all the files submitted by people in our department then I would’ve given him the right information to begin with. But then I question even that and think that I should’ve known to ask him to clarify so it’s really my fault anyway and I’m just trying to make it his fault.

    So I feel stupid. And I feel stupid because he doesn’t really ask me to do all that much for him and when he does I just seem to screw it up.

  • Miru

    Simply: I just finished my first day of work at the second retail store I’ve ever worked for. I seemed to breeze on through the first job just fine; easy touch screen register, friendly customers, bigger store but with a more gradual ability expectancy from my superiors, just seemed less grueling. Now I’m in a MUCH smaller store (Gamestop), but everything seems RIDICULOUSLY complicated. The register is operated by keyboard, F1-F12 mostly (the only keys I never use so I have to ‘hunt’), no one just brings you what they want and you sell it to them, no–they bring you an empty case, you find the game (after meticulously alphabetizing and categorizing and labeling it all away into giant stacks) in the giant ass stacks, and even then, no one ever just wants a few games. They want to trade, reserve, cancel both, have you locate a bunch of different kinds of electronic devices that are thrown randomly up on the walls all over the store, and when I asked about anything, the manager would just do it for me. He was nice about it, but I didn’t learn anything. Basically, I’m used to doing about nine different tasks at one time, but all the tasks were relatively simple and in front of me, even if there were multiple tasks. They only thing people needed help with was finding an isle or returning something. Now I feel like I’m just running in forty different directions while a line of 10 impatient obsessive gamers glares at me for being a girl and not knowing all the little theft preventing steps in between what used to just be a simple process of working retail for me. I was the fastest at my old job, had the best upsell, work ethic, product knowledge, everything. I was pretty damn valuable. Now I feel like the lowest rung on the ladder, and I’m afraid to let anyone catch my eye because I have no idea how to answer 99% of the questions I’m asked. It was only my first day, but. My first day of my previous job didn’t confuse me, leave me red faced, or have me hiding behind people. I calmly (even happily) told customers I was new at my old job. Maybe it’s the gaming world and me putting pressure on myself surrounded by a bunch of elitist gamers, but I just feel absolutely lost and I’m not used to it. I think that’s the whole problem. I’m not used to feeling “out of my element”. I’m never out of any element. I can ALWAYS jump into things and, if I can’t perform perfectly, get by with honesty and a good attitude. But this time, I can’t. It’s not coming easily, and therefore, I feel retarded, stressed, and hated.

    It’s just Gamestop. It’s just retail. It’s just people that I’ve always been able to adapt to very easily and like talking to. So why am I suddenly on the internet, freaking out about it? Every disgruntled face I saw today after I derped my way through situations is leaning heavily on my mind. I know “it gets better/easier” with time, but. I feel like five straight days of the stress I’m PROBABLY just inflicting on myself is going to drive me into the ground. So… What gives? I really hate this.

    • rosa

      Do what youre good at, what you love… You shouldnt have to feel this way… stick it out but look for another job. You dont HAVE to endure a job you dont like just to proove to yourself youre not useless. You dont have experience in the gaming industry so all is good!

  • anna

    Hi, I’ve been back at work for nearly a year after being on maternity leave for 13 months. I went back a different person, when I left i wasnt exactly an expert in my field but i was learning on the job. The job is a position i didnt ask for but was asked to do so i was trying to make the best of it. Going back has been so stressful for me, i have no idea sometimes what im doing, i feel stupid in meetings and my heart races before i can pluck up the courage to speak. When i do speak up in meetings i dont articulate well, i know what i mean but it comes out a jumbled mess. I feel totally like a fish out of water and that everyone thinks im thick. I wonder how long it will be before im found out that i cant do my job anymore, my confidence is shot and i feel really insecure most of the time at work. This plays out at home as well and i get really nippy and irritable. How do i stop feeling this way and build my sense of self back up? Should i just leave? My boss doesnt help, making comments like my attention to detail isnt what it used to be and the like. Feel better for knowing im not the only one but need to get it sorted. What do i do?

  • lyka

    People who likes calling other people stupid probably thinks the same way about themselves. They are just subconciously happy to know that they’re not alone, or somehow the people they call stupid makes them feel a little smarter.

  • Ed

    I started a new job this year. I had been working at a fast paced, less technically intensive position for 5 years. I felt like I had to take a shot at the big leagues so to say and got a job with a fast paced extremely technically intensive firm. I went into the job with a bit of self doubt knowing that I had been working on less technical projects.

    Once the first couple of mistakes happened, it has mushroomed into an avalanche of anxiety at every stop. I feel like I’ve lost any ability I once had.

    I had a meeting with my boss last week and while he was somewhat supportive, there was definitely a shape up or ship out tone.

    Therefore, I feel very stupid at work.

  • tiredofxxxxxxx

    Today, I totally felt stupid at work. This has made me so uncomfortable that I googled it and here I am . Recently ( 8 months ago) after having worked in a totally different field/department for 8 years, I changed my position within the same company. It is totally a different role now. The junior staff working in my new department has obviously more experience than me. The manager of my new department has also took up this new role, along with me. So both of us have changed our careers in a totally different field. My problem is that I can not catch up with his learning curve. It does quite along time for me to understand this new stuff and since all the juniors have already have that experience and knowledge, I lost my self confidence. Plus, with these negative thoughts I can not speak up within the group. Sometimes, the manager plays with all the team members” an educated guess” question game, and my answers are far behind the correct result which are worse than the juniors. Today I felt horrible. I was totally embarressed and felt soooo stupid. My manager and I have started a different role from what we have done so far, but he seems to understand everything, every email in a blink of a eye which for me takes ages to understand.. What is wrong with me? Does it mean that this is not my area at all and just leave it ?

  • Jo

    Two years later and people are still feeling the same way. It was so nice to find your post after a really tough day. I’ll tell you exactly what’s going on. I’ve worked at the same place for the past year and a half. These days it seems very few work places take any time to train their staff, even though I believe this to be a VERY important step in creating a productive staff member. So it’s been an up hill battle since day one. Even though I came into my position with some experience, I still had a great deal of growing to do and growing I have done! But I’ve unfortunately been saddled with a very inexperienced boss that can’t admit that she’s inexperienced and perhaps needs to grown a bit herself. I’ve come to realize that she really does believe that I can read her mind without having her communicate anything to me and is astonished when I haven’t done something the way she dreamed up (without telling me of course!) Which leads me to second guess myself and load up google just so I can type “I feel stupid at work.” Yes, that’s how I ended up here, wondering if anyone else feels stupid at work at times. And thanks to your thoughtful post, I can see many others do too!

  • tina

    Hi! I spent years being the go-to person with a large company, but recently moved to a smaller one in hopes of feeling like my presence makes a difference. Everyone around me is a developer or an engineer – I was brought on as a designer. I’m the only one here without a degree as well. I may not have the education, but I have years of experience and I really WANT to make a contribution here. Problem is, my boss won’t LET me. I haven’t even had a chance to fall on my face yet, because every time I offer or just jump in and try to do something (including things that were in my job description) he steps in and tells me it’s too “complicated” and he’ll just take care of it. I’m starting to believe him.

  • Numb

    I have been at my job for almost 3 years and I am not doing anything new in the last 2 years. My head seems to forget everything, everything… I can’t contain information about projects at work, I can’t even write down enough notes to help me remember. I don’t know the proper way to use punctuation or grammar, I can’t remember people’s last names, I can’t remember the ins and outs of my job. My head is usually just really empty or just thinking all the time. People can be talking to me and I will be looking at their eyes and I don’t hear a darn thing they say. I can’t get myself to finish college, I got my AA but I just can’t finish my BA. I barely pass the classes unless I figure out some way to beat the system. I really feel like I hit my head and I am just plumb stupid now. JD

  • Anu

    I used to be really confident about my job. I had just finished a Master’s degree in the subject and was breezing through all the new projects. Then at one point I was given a project on an unfamiliar subject, and before I even started my boss was impatient with the progress of it – he felt I had focused too intently on the previous project.

    With the new project, I felt at a loss many times, but while it was out of my comfort zone my two superiors were experts. When I’d ask questions they’d snap at me, in a way that suggested that I should already know the answers. Sometimes in meetings my boss would start “quizzing” me on basic aspects of my job in front of everyone, which would paralyze me and I’d end up appearing even more stupid. My superiors would also make decisions concerning my job description amongst themselves, and neglect to tell me. Even when questioned they would make up excuses and not give me definitive answers. This really shook my confidence and caused a lot of frustration and worry.

    This irritability and impatience from the bosses lasted through the entire project and is bleeding into the current one. And all the time my boss is commenting on how I’m not doing as well as I used to. Even though I have some experience, I’m also still learning, and I don’t know how to communicate to my boss that his negative attitude is eating away at my self-confidence, and is affecting my ability to do my job properly.

    • rosa

      Wouldn’t it be amazing if you did tell them ??

  • cassandra

    im 19 years old and have graduated from college as a personal support worker. i am passionate about what i do, my hearts in the right place, and i am willing to work HARD.. unfortunately no one i work with takes me seriously because again, i am 19. its like they all assume i will fail and assume i cant be good at what i do. plus they have me back and fourth between two floors so now.. four months after i was hired, there are still a few things i forget to do the odd time, im so busy trying to remember everything that needs to be done to suit residents needs and plan my next step to meet time frames that sometimes i will forget small things like emtying the basin of water or for get that a certain client has compression stalkings or what not. this makes me few low because i know that if i had been given time to get my own routine that i would have no problems… its frustrating and makes me feel stupid. expecially the last few shifts i have worked.

  • Not at my best…

    I used to think of myself as an excellent communicator. In the past, my work experience consisted of selling products internationally from inside an office. This experience included phone sales, Internet/e-mail marketing, setting up logistics strategies, trade show marketing, web-site optimization and more. I built a 7 figure Gold level Power-Seller business on eBay with few expenses. Later on, I became an extremely successful sales director at a company focused on selling manufactured goods to the Department of Defense. I thought I was a natural businessman. Well, I recently took a “Director of International Sales” position with a company that manufacturers consumer electronics accessories. Most everyone at this company has formal “face-to-face” sales training. I don’t. My boss has told me that he has never seen anyone as bad in front of retail buyers as me. My casual communication style, lack of commercial business experience, and boredom with our products has relegated me to “moron” status amongst my superiors. Apparently I ask really dumb questions and don’t listen to what customers are saying. I ran a search on the web for “my boss thinks I’m stupid” because it felt right at the moment I did it. Your postings are helpful as some self-deception might be necessary at the moment. 🙂

  • WorstAccountantEver

    I can relate to so many of these posts. I recently requested my company transfer me across the country so I could be closer to family and friends, and along with the transfer came a substantial promotion. My prior role was an entry level accounting position right out of University, which clicked right away. I had no problem with co-workers, and handled my workload just fine. However, since my transfer, I literally feel like I have done a single thing right. Rather than a set list of responsibilities (which I was used to), I am now doing strictly “project” work, with little to no direction on what is expected of me, or what the end result should be. On top of this, I am much younger then everyone else, and whenever I deal with someone outside of my department, I get no respect, and often my questions/requests are just ignored completely. I am naturally a quiet person, and my boss keeps telling me to work on my confidence. Confidence was never an issue in my old role… when I feel knowledgeable on a topic, I have no problem voicing my opinion. It is just in this new position, where I received no training and rarely know what people around me are talking about, that I don’t have anything to say.

    Like many others have suggested, I have looked elsewhere for employment and recently had another job offer. However, the company I work for is paying for my Accounting Designation, and in my old role, they had me sign a 4-year contract upon receiving my designation (I still have a year of courses left). The thought of working in this role for another 5 years makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t have a hope of moving to a different department because a) I (admittedly) am not doing a good job in my current role (whatever that role is) and b) all other departments have written me off due to my age. After many requests from my boss for clarification or help, my boss (whom I would consider “old school”), simply gives me movie quotes or other stupid analogies, and usually just leaves me with more questions than answers.

    To be honest, I no longer want to pursue my designation… this job has destroyed my ambition. I am 25 years old, and I wake up every morning feeling sick to my stomach, knowing that at best, my work will be unsatisfactory, or worse, not recognized at all.

  • FeelingDefeated

    Previously I worked for a small company where I was the Administrative Assistant. I was employed there for 9 years and I knew the job inside and out. However, the company lost the contract with our biggest customer and all staff was advised that the company would be closing their doors within a few months. Through a friend I was asked if I would submit a resume for a bookkeeping position for a small company to provide maternity leave coverage. I was terrified as I had zero experience with Payroll and Billing. I did have experience with Accounts Payable from a job many years ago. Putting my fears aside I decided to go for an interview. I was called back for a second and they offered me the position. I was to receive 4 months training and then would handle all duties on my own for the next year while my trainer was on mat leave. It was difficult at first to go from simple administrative duties for a rehabilitation company to the duties of payroll and invoicing for an engineering company. In addition to learning the job I also needed to have a better understanding of the business I was now working in. Not wanting to toot my own horn, but I feel I did well and made minimal errors. Then to my horror, my trainer went into labour a week early and I was left to complete the months billing on my own. I feel it went well and had positive feedback from the owners. However, the following month and for the next three months, my trainer has requested to come in one day a month and review my invoices. She does not check any thing else, not the payroll, not the tax submissions to the government, nothing! That being said, our invoicing is broken into three different categories based on the services provided. And in this she only reviews the one category. She finds fault with practically every invoice that I have generated. Sometimes it is the font, sometimes it is a matter of upcharging a quarter hour. Needless to say by the end of the day I feel completely defeated and that I have made no progress from the previous month. She advises me that the upcharging is completely discretionary and that I am not wrong. (I take this to mean that she is just more right.) I am trying to please her as I know that when she returns, if I am to be offered a permanent position with this company it will all hinge on how much she wants me there. I am struggling with the thought that she is just trying to keep me feeling inadequate, perhaps I am doing much better than she expected. I know that she is a perfectionist and I think that she is nice person but sometimes I think I need to fail in order to learn and grow. I can not say that she can not come in as she has worked for this company for 13 years and is on close terms with each of the owners, one of which is a relative to her. How do I proceed with this situation?

  • Louise

    I lack confidence at college I’m doing a business and administration college im 17 , but i have very low confidence is there any advice you could give me to help me. Like what i could do to boost my confidence in my workplace ?.

    Thank you.

  • Lunk

    I own the company and the buck stops here. After having to downsize I’m having to learn Internet junk like imbedding images and mass e-mailings. It’s out of my realm. I do not have the aptitude for IT. I’ve been shown, workshops etc etc. It just doesn’t stick in my brain and that….makes me feel stupid. Write a book. I can still read. Unless….

  • sappose

    I typed “I feel stupid today” in Google.

    It is exactly as I say it. A heat wave hit the city today and I overslept a lot, and I really feel like my IQ has dropped a few notches. I make stupid little mistakes, that I come across and go “duh”.

    I just started a new position and the people I work for are very experienced and very literate in their field. I usually find myself being more of the creative type, finding creative solutions for problems, but at the moment I feel like I am either not understood, not listened to, or my opinions are dumb. I don’t think I am clueless, maybe more a lack of knowledge than a lack of intelligence.

    I think often people mistake a lack of knowledge for a lack of intelligence. If you find yourself floundering, it is probably time to do some reading.

    Experience is also key. If you are working for a new organisation people might brush you off for a lack of understanding. Bureaucracy and protocol is something the furniture sitters are used to and work around automatically, and while it may not the smartest of processes, it might be the only way.

  • SMR

    I think that there are a lot of people out there that think they can’t make a mistake. When they do, they immediately think they’re stupid. I messed up at work recently and felt incredibly stupid. I’ve been a perfectionist all my life, so to screw up was a BIG LETDOWN. I think we all need to manage our expectations a little. We all make mistakes. Write a book about perfectionism in the workforce!

    • Samara

      Yes, we need a book about perfectionism in the workplace. It is getting really bad. The expectations are not taking into account that “resources” are also humans. It started with pc’s in the office, and it got worse when employees were relegated to “resources”.

  • I don’t know if am realy stupid or not. We went for this test and everyon got total 100 percent I was the only one who got one answer wrong. My boss anounced the results I felt so stupid to be tbe only one. I make stupid mistakes and I beat up myself for them. I always make mistake am I stupid.

  • J

    Hi, i found this blog because i typed the phrase ‘my boss tells me i’m stupid’ into google. My boss stands over me and criticises me even when i am not doing anything wrong. She mentions the fact that i have a degree and she doesn’t and makes horrible remarks about my education (which is to a high standard) I work in a toy shop! She makes me panic until i make a typo and then leaps on it and then goes on to tell me that she can’t believe i have a degree. I never even bring up the fact i have a degree ever, she only knows because it was on my CV. I feel like i am gradually turning stupid as a result of her criticism.

  • J

    …..oh i am also learning to drive at the moment, and i passed my theorey test with a mark of 100%, as soon as she found out instead of saying well done she told me that passing a theorey test is one thing having a brain is another, i think i might need to look for another job.

  • MC

    I am surrounded by highly intelligent people and they appear to understand the core objectives of the job much faster than I. I feel stupid quite often especially when I take several hours to complete tasks and then actually don’t come out with an optimal result and a collegue will do something in a much shorter time and come out with a really optimal output.

    As this has progressed I now seem to continuously think about work right through the day and night. And during the day I have this feeling of a hazy mind, so that when I try to think either I suddenly get quite frightened (and can’t explain why) or I just can’t come up with the solution. Its also made me quite absent minded and struggle to read and understand when the emails etc are a little more complex.

    All I’d like is some peace and clarity in my mind and go back to being able to prioritise and complete tasks in an excellent way and definately feel I can also do what my collegueas are able to do had I been given that work to do. This feeling of being stupid at work is really having its impact on me and its mainly because I attach significant levels of self worth to my ability to do an excellent job

  • Angst-Ridden

    I hope you do write the book. I’m so grateful to have found this post and your later one with “tips”–including “find your voice.” I realize that now when I talk to my boss, my voice is barely audible. I’m terrified and intimidated and feel I can do no right. I don’t work in the office, so I try to maintain an upbeat, positive tone is all my e-mails, but one criticism was that I wasn’t calling often enough. Now I try to call more often, but it’s that same sense of feeling stupid. He asks, “Do you understand X, Y or Z?” Or says, “I feel like you don’t understand why X, Y or Z.” I’ll reply, “No, I do understand,” then try to rephrase, but I’m so scared I get practically tongue-tied.

    For the past year or so it’s been a learning experience. But it feels like anytime I try to “own” a project or area (mine, mind you), I get slapped down. When I try to act independently I’m told I’m not to send out material without prior approval. When I try to include him and seek prior approval, I’m told he shouldn’t have to micromanage me.

    I try to give him what he wants, but it feels like mindreading. He’s highly intelligent and understated yet witty. But all that is gone with me now. There’s no benefit of the doubt anymore. I came unprepared to a meeting in December, and ever since then it’s been hell. I feel like I’ll never have his trust again no matter how many reports I create or contracts/deals I push forward and make happen. I get tripped up over stupid stuff, in my effort to not have him feel he must micromanage me, either. Today’s meeting devolved into a discussion of tracking/redlining agreements–as if I haven’t been doing this for over a year now! Did I know how? This wasn’t the way to send out a redlined agreement, he said. It was horribly humiliating, and I cried for 45 minutes after we hung up, me having promised to look at my settings.

    Well, thanks for letting me talk and rant here. I’m glad I found you and this blog.

  • I. R. stupid

    I typed “I did something stupid today” in Google. I’ve been making stupid mistakes all my life and I sometimes feel like it’s a life pattern. I’m no idiot, but sometimes I make mistaken assumptions, forget small details (that turn out later not to be so small after all) and sometimes give things the wrong priority. Thanks for posting this article (and the previous one too) – I don’t feel so alone anymore.

    And to the lady to whom I gave the wrong directions today…I am so, so sorry. I completely forgot which street that was, although I’ve lived in the area for the last thirty-odd years. Next time, if I’m not sure, I’ll say I’m not sure instead of guessing. 🙁

  • mara b.

    Well, I am glad I found the site, and I have been reading a few posts. Sounds like most of you guys are in the same boat than I am in. However, this is for shrinkingcamel, I would like to have a bit more tangible advise, rather than “stay positive, heads up’….. If we could stay positive, and had our heads up, we wouldn’t need to read this site.

    So, I would buy your book, if it had concrete, rational, feasible and proven tactics to outgrow this. When a person has low self-esteem, just as I do, it isn’t fixed with a prayer, believe me I’ve prayed, and I am a believer in Christ, and know Philippians 4:13 – the sad thing is … that I am still in the flesh, hence still low self-esteem and the work environment does not get better. Talking to people makes it sometimes worse, because in my situation (ONLY LADIES) in our office (it’s practically like pre-hell) – they thrive on making you come out and want to “talk” about things. So, shrinkingcamel, here is my advice – build the book with a perspective from employers and employees and help with real solutions.

    Teach us how to speak to using key phrases, or how to read and analyse all of those perfect employers we have, who NEVER make mistakes, and by the way when they do, they scoff it off, while I worry, about a letter I forgot to put a semicolon rather then a comma.

    So, go for it, but make it tangible and juicy! Good luck.

    • Mara – that is some excellent advice. I am working on two other writing projects at the moment, so not sure if and when a “Stupid” book will be forthcoming. Although there is a steady stream of readers like you coming every day from the Google search engines – so, it does seem innevitable, doesn’t it?

      All my best to you in the meantime.

  • Hi thanks for the blog which I came across from google.

    I am an intern within a Media agency, the length of this intern is miminally 6 months. I’ve quit a good jab to intern to get into advertising. I guess at the beginning all is wellt, I’ve been the 3 weeks now and learned a heck of a lot! My senior employee who interviewed then hired me that very interview is now making me feel stupid, she will teach me sometime example a system that we use at work and when I ask a question or a reminder she always starts of by saying loudly when her boss is around the broadcast director “remember when I said before she answers” recently I’ve felt as she trying to make me feel stupid or look silly when I ask something. I believe I’m doing well and being there only 3 weeks I’ve learned a lot and contributed also. The strange thing she will ask me if I’ve done something I will answer then it feels like she twists the questions I’ve asks it again and say you’ve just said this when I haven’t. I’m new I’m learning but its got to the point if feel she fustrated witth what I can’t understand with what.

    She just always makes me feel stupid! But it was never always like this when I started.

    I can’t put my finger on what’s happening.

  • Jennifer Cruze

    Yes, I am feeling stupid at work. By trade, I am an award-winning high school chemistry teacher and even began teaching teachers grad courses at a local university 5 years ago in Texas. Today, I am the Accounting and HR Manager of a printing company which just expanded to Malaysia. Yes, Malaysia. My husband was promoted to begin the plant and the rest of the family came over here with. We are here for a minimum of 3 years and of course, I want to see him and the company do well. I definitely feel that G-d sent us here for different reasons. I am learning a great deal, but I am still overwhelmed. New cultures, new religions, new reasons, new motives, new and completely different, human behavior. It is upsetting me because I am so good at teaching Chemistry and I know so much about it. Now, I am struggling. I am still not driving over here because it is so dangerous and I feel like I have returned to my 16 year old self~ just uglier. I am also dealing with a chronic illness, lupus, which is giving me ups and downs due to the stress and the medication I am taking is affecting my memory. I am constantly writing notes to myself to help cope. Sometimes I really think I made the wrong decision. I do not have the same passion for this job as I do for teaching. Sometimes I think the passion is due to my passion of needing to be liked and I really don’t care if these people like me. I am so confused and feeling stupid at work.

  • Dummy at work

    Yes, I feel stupid more and more now at work. I work at a nonprofit; over the last year with federal funding cuts, we’ve had to lay off a total of 9 people from our dept, our boss just left about a month ago for a new job, and the morale is down. I can see that, and I feel that. We only have 4 people left and 1 person who got laid off but is back part-time. I’ve had to take on other assignments, which aren’t that difficult, but I feel isolated and feel like I should leave because honestly, I don’t really feel like there is anything left for me here. The specific things I was brought on to do are about to end or just are not needed anymore. I feel like I can’t leave though because the people left will be stuck with my work. Plus, I used to be able to hide a bit with all the people who used to work here, but now that there’s only a few of us left, there is nowhere to hide. I guess I’m not feeling confident about what I have to offer to this dept anymore and just want to start over somewhere else.

  • Bothered

    This morning my boss repated about 4 times that she had told me a certain reagent we use may expire and should be purchased new. Immediately, when she first mentioned that she told me this already, I couldn’t remember her ever telling me. Of course I didn’t tell her that. I just agreed that I’ll buy the new product today. But she kept repeating that she told me already. After talking with her, I tried to think back when we last talked about this specific experiment where there was an opportunity to bring up the fact that the product needed to be purchased new. All I remember is she told me to check our lab cabinets for reagents that previous people had purchased, and I did find a couple of sets of those reagents, so I wasn’t planning on buying new. I definitely accept the fact that I missed what she had told me, but I’m bothered that she felt the need to repeat herself so many times. It felt like she wanted to point out that I don’t pay enough attention. I wanted to tell her that she very often forgets the work-related things I talk to her about and act surprised when I bring it up in later meetings, and that I am not the only one among our colleages to be complaining about this problem of hers. Except, we’re all forgiving that she’s the boss and is busy, but she isn’t. I just want to learn to not take these things so seriously and just move on.

  • KJ

    I just realized I sent a letter in January with my parent’s number on it to 30 people for a work event (they are 2 digits off) that is occurring on Friday. When someone called the house to RSVP I checked the letter, but not the memo enclosed. It worried me that someone knew my parent’s house. I guess these types of mistakes do happen – but still I wish I would have known sooner…and I really hope no one else tried the number! Dumb mistake number 1! I even had someone proof it before it was sent off.

  • M

    I feel stupid because I have depression and sent a rather rSmbling email today acknowledging how badly I am doing at the moment. Worried about the conseques of this. Yes I needed to deal with performing badly, before I got called in by them, bt in a more controlled way. I feel useless.

  • My thing is that I often feel like George Costanza. You know, how he used to pretend to be an architect or marine biologist and then get screwed because when it came time to live up to that pretense, he failed miserably?

    It’s not like I’m pretending to be something I’m not (at least not to the Costanza level), but sometimes I feel just like I am. For example, I have a new job, and while I absolutely love the people I work with, I feel so inferior to them. They are the same age as I am (early 30s) but know so much more than I do, and I constantly feel desperation in catching up to them.

    (FYI, I work in a government contracting agency focusing in web solutions)

    Bottom line, I feel like I’m constantly winging it.

    I try not to be hard on myself all the time, after all they did hire me, therefore I must have SOMETHING of value. Yet often times I wonder if I fooled them somehow. Feeling this way is a whole new territory for me. I tend to be very confident in the workplace, and oftentimes I’m a team leader – not this time though.

    To a certain extent I do appreciate the push to compete, the push to improve myself, and the opportunity to learn from these people. I will not lie though — when the boss comes a-knocking asking for stuff I don’t have much experience in, I do feel stupid. It’s almost as if I’m back in high school again – trying to fit into my impossibly demanding group of friends. At 32 this is a toxic way to live.

    So yes, please write that book. I realize that this post originated in 2009 and maybe you are well on your way. If not, consider it.

  • I work in one of the oldest institutions and political institutions in the world. I started working here straight after university so don’t have real world private sector experience. I’ve been here 5 years in total, 8 years if my 3 year career break that I came back from in July is taken into account. Since rejoining I’ve been placed in 3 new fixed term roles in the last 9 months that have previously not existed. 2 of the roles have been within brand new programmes in a department undergoing huge changes in procedures and processes. I should point out that I had no experience working in these departments before and am not a professional in their area of expertise.

    My current role is the take on ‘orphan’ tasks from various sections and people that no longer sit comfortable within the pre-designated areas. It is an ever-changing environment where everything is in flux. My boss has recently been appointed Head of Operations and my role is to also assist her. When I took the job (mostly because nothing else was on offer) I was under the impression that I would be a Business Mamager not become a PA which unfortunately is what has transpired.

    My boss seems to expect a lot from me. She says she does not have the time to give me clear instructions and I should be figuring things out. Only when I do try and figure it out she points out what I’ve not thought about and as a result I tend to get dressed down publicly at least once a day. I don’t know if I’m coming or going and am losing my confidence and I always seem to be on the back foot treading on egg shells. She makes me feel really stupid and it’s now become a self-fulfilling prophesy. I hate going into work and feel like I’m letting her and myself down. I just don’t know how I can think of everything she can think of. Though she is 5 grades higher than me, she is less educated than me and younger than me but that’s not the problem. She is probably really good at what she does but I try and don’t seem to be any good at anything. It’s really demotivating!

  • I found this post by googling “my boss thinks I’m lying”. My husband got sick, I had to call 911. My husband told me not to, but I did anyway, he’s my everything and I was scared. I waited for the ambulance to get there and my husband was so mad he refused to let me go with him. Instead, a friend of his who’s staying with us went with him. I had been late to work the week before and was told that if I was a minute late to work that I’d be fired. My husband knew this and demanded I get my a** to work. I waited until the ambulance left, changed my shirt and sped off to work, (still wearing the pants I wore to bed). My cell phone was dead and my husbands cell phone was with the friend that went with them. I ended up being late to work and as soon as I got there, asked a co-worker if I could borrow her phone. I called my husbands cell and his friend answered. All he told me was that my Husband was gonna be ok and he didn’t know what hospital they were going to. Said he’d call when he knew. I borrowed my boss’s charger to charge my phone so I could be reached. He was extremely mad and asked me what happened… I told him. He said it sounded fishy and demanded to know what hospital my husband was going to. I said I didn’t know. I went back to work and tried to keep my mind occupied while i waited for a Phone call. My boss confronted me again saying that I sure didn’t seem like a concerned wife since I was working instead of trying to find out where my husband was. I was only doing what my husband told me to do! If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have gone in at all. My boss demanded I stop working and immediately find out where my husband was. I got my cell phone which by then had a little bit of charge and called my husbands number… No answer. I called every hospital in town and no one would tell me anything. I even called the ambulance service. Still nothing. I finally got a call from my husbands friend saying that my husband was asleep in and that he thought he might be being sent to another city. I asked which hospital and he didn’t know. At this point I’m sobbing, scared for my husband, and pissed that I’m at work. My boss comes up to me and say “well?”. I explain the best I can that I don’t really know much more than I did before. He repeatedly accuses me of lying and tries to get me to confess. I get mad because there wasn’t anything TO confess. He asks me about times, when did I wake up, when did I call the ambulance, what time did they take him, etc… I try to explain that I was hysterical and didn’t ever think to look at a clock. He doesn’t let it go and keeps pressing me for a time so I give him an “ish” time hoping to get him off my back. He thinks about it and tries to create a 15 minute discrepancy. Im so frustrated and emotional and he’s refusing to leave me alone. He makes another snide comment that if I was really concerned then I should leave and be with my husband. I jump at the chance for a reprieve that I get up, grab my stuff and go without bothering to clock out. Before I go he stops me to show me a text. He had tried to call my husband and received a text that said “I’m sorry I’m busy but I’ll call you back”. He says that if my husbands sick then why did he just text him. I say it was my husbands friend and walk out the door. I drive home and as soon as I walk in the door I try calling my husbands phone again… No answer. I’m freaking out and pacing. I don’t drink, but I eventually grab one of my husbands beers to calm down. My boss is texting me over and over wanting to know which hospital he’s at. I keep telling him I don’t know. I call my mom and tell her what happened and she tells me to ignore my boss, that it’s just going to stress me out more. I take her advice and quit replying. Emotionally, I’m calming down but the beer gave me a headache. I keep trying to call, no answer. I’m scared and worried and don’t know where my husband is. My headache is getting worse, I take a pain pill and cry myself to sleep. Several hours later I wake up to the front door being opened, my husband and his friend walk in. My husband is pissed and won’t look at me or talk to me. He goes downstairs and locks himself in the den. I try talking to him through the door and he is

    Mad as hell about me calling 911. I text my boss letting him know my husband just got home and seems to be ok. My husband and I are fighting, his friend takes the keys to his truck and leaves to let us fight privately. We argue for a while, I apologize and finally my husband is being civil. My boss texts me and asks ” if he was in such bad shape, how did he text me?”. I ask my husband and confirm it was his friend who replied, not knowing who it was. He has this feature on his phone that let’s him either answer, ignore, or send a text when a call is Comming in. The text is the standard one I mentioned above. I tell my boss for the second time that it was my husbands friend. He says I didn’t call in to work to let them know what’s going on, I explained that my phone was dead, that’s why I had asked to borrow his charger as soon as I got to work. He keeps trying to catch me in a non-existent lie and I get so fed up that I call him and tell him that if he wants to talk about it anymore then we can talk tomorrow at work. He laughs at me and asks me if my husbands truck was home all day. I say yes it was, he says I’m a liar and that he drove by my house and the truck was gone. I looked outside and the truck was there! I told him this and he starts yelling at me calling me a liar. I later found out that my husbands friend came back to the house to pick up the truck which explains how they got home. I didn’t know that at the time and got so angry about him yelling at me that I hung up on him. He texts me that if I don’t call him by 10pm then I can forget going into work the next day. I call him and he continues yelling at me. My husband, who’s tired, cranky, and on meds, grabs the phone and proceeds to demand that my boss tell him what business he has keeping me on the phone at 10 pm. They talk for a bit, my husband tells him I’m not lying and they hang up. My boss said we’ll talk about this tomorrow at 7 am. Its now 3:41 am, I’m tired, emotionally drained, and have lost all respect for my boss. I got to be at work in 3 hours and can’t mentally handle another day of my bosses crap. Anyway, that’s what happened and how I got here… Help.

    • Sounds like you emotionally overreact to situations, creating unnecessary drama. Tell your boss that you’re sorry you haven’t built trust with him and that you’ll work on that more. Then try to calm down and be more centered with your self.

  • jodie

    I have worked in various jobs sales assistant in a bakery, teaching assistant, sales assistant in a clothing store, account executive in an events company, radio presenter, and now a receptionist and i still dont know what i want to do!

    i feel like i have made mistakes in every job i have had to the point of loosing most of my confidence and feeling like i’d be better not working or doing a job where i couldn’t possible mess up! i really dont know how anyone can say its fine just brush it off when we work most of our lives, we need it to provide food for our families, run a car, pay the bills, etc… i have been feeling so low with the thought that maybe i was not ment for work or will the list of jobs just keep going up. work just seems like a bomb waiting to explode!!!

    by the time the books out i probably wont be able to afford it but i think you should write it as it will help other people in the same situation.

  • Anon Amos

    Hey, am a junior doctor. Let’s just say this: hospital dynamics. It sums it up. An entire cohort of subservient individuals constantly in fear which directly impedes productivity, with a caffeine addiction in a desperate attempt to win over the thankless bosses and do ‘something’ right. Keeping it together. Our only outlets are such shows as Scrubs, blogs, and on occasion we may switch over to Grey’s Anatomy as we regard our dissatisfaction with such a work life akin to the increased frustration in the sexual arena, in personal relationships and family life.

    Is it not easy to comprehend why we may feel stupid? So stupid. So utterly stupid. At times forgetting the simplest things. Working your ass off and then, for some reason, not performing when it comes down to the crunch. Mind you there have been times when you have performed really well, but noooo. No, let’s focus on how crap you are. Senior doctors have this unshakable belief that long term memory is solely based on fear; the only way to learn is when put under a very stressful situation. If only I knew that before starting medicine. We don’t even get paid such a buttload here, and when we get to a situation that we may get paid a whole heap, we either have no time to spend the money or are just wrinkly and old from overstressing and letting the youngster years pass us by opting for sleep deprivation, constant hunger and considerable stress instead. I could go on… but I have work in 5 hours and need to sleep.

    Medicine: a job to help people. Other people. Preferably by forgetting that you are a person.

    Prerequisites: masochism, OCD, autism with a wide vocabulary and theoretical understanding of emotions, no appreciation for self respect or preservation, comfortable with the knowledge that you will become a cold-hearted witch or someone else’s bitch

    P.S. I will never quit. I think I fit the first prerequisite. I have just placed medicine as the last priority in my life… you know, the one where it is just a job to help live life. Enjoy the good parts and screw the bad parts. Leave the past behind and wake up to a new day each day (nightshift not included).

    Healthiest way to approach it: give the bosses the finger from day one. No boss is worth your self respect, basic human dignity or every waking moment of your life. Not one. Never quit for someone else… just make your money, laugh at them thinking they matter to you and go live and enjoy. Stupid is a word the intellectually insecure douchebags with no real human attachments call everyone else.

  • Sunshine

    Hello everyone. After reading some of the posts and the amazing feedback provided, I couldn’t help but share my story. I am a recent engineering graduate (currently working towards my master’s degree) I have a full time position on a global company, where customer/supplier relationships are highly valued. Unlike some of the ppl who’ve left a comment, I have a wonderful boss and an amazing ‘direct’ team. The problem emerges when I have to deal with people that provide support to our department. There’s a technician with a lot of experience and he’s always asking me technical questions that sometimes I am not able to answer ( Ive been in the job for only 6 mo) and I know he does it to prove ‘he knows more than the stupid engineers’. Also some people from the other departments we interact with seem to always be there to make me stumble. Sometimes I find myself thinking I’m not as smart as other people working there, constantly forgetting little details and having doubts about myself. I feel really bad because every time I make stupid mistakes I feel like I am letting my team down or something. I would really like some advice as to how to deal with these type of situations. Thanks in advance for those that reply.

    • Hello, Sunshine. (I just had to say that). You are blessed in advance to have a supportive boss and team. I would start by asking them if they’ve experienced the same thing, and how they’ve coped with it. One thing I have observed over the years: if I am sensing something fishy going on, then usually others are experiencing the same thing too. We tend to personalize everything, and think, “Oh, it’s just me – I’m stupid, or insecure, or overly self-conscious,” when in fact 80% of the time, everyone else sees and is annoyed by the bad behavior too. So ask others about their experiencem – Just don’t come off like you’re gossipy or overly defensive. Try to be factual, and ask, “I get this feeling from so and so that he wants me to stumble. Does that ever happen to you?”

      Second thing you can try is to just speak up about it directly in the moment. Stand up for your lack of experience and become a little indignant. “Well, what do you expect? I’ve only worked here for two months! Did you know all this information during your first few months on the job?” As a person fairly new to the job, you have every right to take several months to get up to speed, like everyone else did.

      Let me know how it goes.

  • solly Rikho

    iam the assistent in the college was in the work last friday where iwas an invigilator at school then my bos enter that examroom ibecame litle panic she greeted me and my co worker. itake it as my friend will answer she do what she was there for then she say thankyou ieven faill to respond then she call the other guy idonot know what they were talking so ifeel like iam astupide pleace help me

  • N

    I came across this blog entry because I am seeking solace from what I just experienced right now. I feel so bad. I did a particularly great cost model, and for the first time in a long time, was praised for a job well done by my manager. I think this was the first time she blatantly praised me for a task; I always feel mediocre in her eyes. Needless to say, I am feeling pretty proud of myself. But her boss asked me to discuss with him what I have done (the model was passed on to him because my manager felt it was really great work), and I blabbered in my meeting with him. It was going fine in the beginning, but when he started asking detailed questions, it’s either 1) that’s something I have not considered in, and 2) I am just utterly confused by what he said, unsure to answer. At some point, he looked at me and said “I am thoroughly confused” and said he’d just look at the model later. As I prepare to pick up my things, he just sighed heavily and I felt the disappointment. This particular person is one of the top managers in the company, and I bombed. I just feel like a total failure.

    The thing is, prior to this meeting, I think he has a pretty good impression of me… like, I am a good worker, I make sense, etc. I was even taking up the courage to talk to him about a promotion (I have been with the team for almost two years). But now, seeing what I am actually capable of, I don’t think he is impressed with me at all. I just feel bad that I left that impression, and my manager will hear about this for sure. I am back to being mediocre.

    I guess at the crux of it, I am just sad that I was not able to hold on to that “I am good” mentality, that validation from my boss. Prior to this role, I was always with a team that supported me, managers who sang me praises, co-workers who have told me that I am one of the best. When I moved to this position, I was perceived only ordinary all of a sudden. I never do enough, I never know enough, I was never good enough. There was always something missing with me, and I was not consistently good according to my boss. I do not understand where and what happened to me or if I changed, if it’s just the environment, etc. Were my previous bosses wrong about me? Was I just an average worker? How come I cannot please these people? Did I become stupid?

    It’s all of those things that are haunting me right now. In a way, I feel that what happened is now a real representation of me: confused and stupid. It’s just sad.

    • Phat42

      WOW, I am sooo where you are…. plus can’t do enough for anyone at home and can’t do enough for anyone in my social organizations plus peri menapause…. throw a hormone into that thought ….. not in a good place right now.

  • prerna

    if anyone have solution tell me plz

  • I got into new leadership position that I felt I am stupid for accepting it. That I thought I know where to go. although it’s just been a week I just dont know how to deal with so many challenges. overwhelming I must say.

  • Samara

    Wow, this feeling of under-appreciation and inadequacy appears to cross all professions and industries. I am so glad I came across this website. Yes, I googled in “feeling stupid at work”. I’ve only read half the comments so far, but it is now 1:03am in the morning, so I thought I’d make a comment and then read the rest tomorrow. That book should definitely be written – I would buy it! I certainly feel better after reading these blogs. I feel a lot like Meredith, The Fish, Cee Cee, Susan and Struggling. There seems to be a common thread – perhaps it has something to do with all of us not setting our boundaries strongly enough. All the books, however, about boundaries will not really help us to set them, because when we are being yelled at /bullied / made to feel small, the manner in which it is directed makes us feel that we deserve the treatment because; perhaps we have made a mistake, haven’t gotten the task finished in the time that the Manager believed it should have been completed, or we didn’t understand fully a directive that was (sometimes intentionally) garbled. The plain fact is that certain malicious managers/supervisors, take advantage of subordinates in whom they sense insecurity . I have found that as the world gets tougher and more competitive, people are dealing very callously towards those they feel they can step on – it is almost as if they hate what they think is “weak”. I also note that many have problems with their female managers/supervisors. I have had four, and have had problems with all four – and I am definitely not the type that wants to stand out in a crowd. The common thread, as with most of your comments, is that you feel small when around your female manager/supervisor. There is a reason, that is generally their INTENTION. I am now in my late forties – I know. I have found that women who praise a co-worker very intentionally in your hearing IS because they do not LIKE you. You probably have something about you that makes them uncomfortable. Could you have the same level of education as they, yet be their subordinate? Are you younger and they know you are being groomed to one day take over their position? One thing is for sure, most of us that now feel stupid, did not once feel that way. I have an Arts/Teaching double degree, came top 15% in my university (achieved while studying and working full time and travelling 4 hours per day for 12 years), travelled overseas by myself when young, yet I now feel stupid. It started with being separated for two months from ALL my co-workers in an admin role (hoping I would resign), and then finally making me redundant – no reason – just that they didn’t want me. I became a secondary teacher, worked for three terms in the country – got sick in October, and then got very sick in January the next year. I am now looking for a job in administration again. In the last 6 months I have worked one day as a Receptionist – and was very nervous. Another common thread I have found in the comments is the fear of making little mistakes. This is what hurts me, too. I have found that this happens because of our anxiety – half of our minds are being used up by our anxious thoughts. This fear seems to be a growing phenomenon. I think it is because technology has had the effect of expecting humans to operate at the same pace with the exact same lack of errors. Many managers feel that their investment in technology ensures they have an errorless workplace. But this has never been the case – the true facts are that many co-workers hide their mistakes. It is harder if you are an administrative person, as so much you do is directly assisting your boss. My sister was speaking to me about her husband – a brilliant man who has an IQ of 150+, loves quantum physics and string theory, and used to work all over the world. He was very depressed for a couple of years and is now in an institution having shock treatments and can’t remember even the year or dates that his children were born.

    Sorry for this long note.

  • musings

    I made the huge mistake of rejoining a workplace where my partner is my immediate boss. Everything has just been a screw up after that. It would be a understatement to say how difficult is to maintain work and personal boundaries with absolutely no help from him. He expects me to listen to i’ m ignoring every other work obligation from anyone else. After six months i feel nowhere personally and professionally. My partner is brilliant at work obviously with many years of experience. Its my second job. I am very hardworking and really sincere.But my strengths are not focused on. I am commented on, ridiculed, i feel watched twenty four seven. such personal and intentional criticism is just pulling myself down, when have pointed out this i am told i need excuses to cover my inefficiencies.I am a joke in the office. I remain in the shadow, my good work gets credited to him, my bad work is covered by him with much obligation and public knowledge.

    I go-ogled i feel stupid at work. but just writing this mail makes me realized that the problem is the relationship; I feel stupid in life. I Feel so stuck. I don know how to gather my self esteem to begin again.I have to.

    • Samara

      Dear Musings

      Reading your comments I don’t get the feeling that you are stupid at all. In fact, despite all the emotional stress you are going through, you can discern that a lot of the problem is the relationship between your boss/partner. You will find that you are not doing as well as you expect of yourself at this job, simply because it is very difficult for people to excel amidst an atmosphere in which they are expected, and hoped, that they will fail. This work environment sounds like a very insecure environment, where your co-workers feel threatened and angry that you should be working for your partner. The fact that your partner is not giving you any support – in fact, probably somewhat savours the predicament in which you are in – gives me the feeling that he is into control, and likes you to feel small so that he can feel the big one – both at work and at home. I was teaching teenagers last year, and I realised with a great shock that grown ups in the corporate environment behave exactly as teenagers do – the bullying, putting down, trying to be the head cock in the classroom is exactly the same in an office. It has nothing to do with what position you are in – it has to do with your perceived power and influence. If your partner has any power/influence in this work environment, and he openly supports you – your co-workers would never make you a joke – they would know they would have your boss/partner to answer to. An employee’s mental welfare while in the workplace is the responsibility of any good boss. The fact that you are being made “a joke” by your co-workers clearly shows that he does not support you as an employee – which is his responsibility as a boss, and therefore he cannot be good partner material either. A partner’s first responsibilty is to protect their mate. I would look for other jobs on the quiet, if you can. Make sure you have your own personal computer, with a very good password that your partner would never guess. Look at – if you are in Australia. Can you get a post-box for your mail? Don’t ever resign from your company until you have signed an acceptance letter from the new company and they have acknowledge it – and signed it their end. Then resign. You do not need to tell your boss/partner beforehand. If he takes it really bad, then there is no understanding and perhaps an agenda for him to keep you beneath his authority. Try talking to him about how you feel at work first. If no help comes, try Plan B above.

      All the best.

  • Melissa

    Wow I’m seeing a lot of similarities to my situation. I’ve been at my current job for only 4 months and the workload is out of this world. In combination with trying to learn everything from scratch, I’m frantically trying to deliver on a pre-defined plan, ensuring I meet the timelines as specified. My boss thinks she’s helpful and provides very obscure descriptions to answer my questions, using every cliche marketing term from ‘sweat to bread’, ‘from such and such a perspective’, ‘line of sight’, ‘thought leadership’ and the list goes on, to the point where she sounds brilliant but I’m not sure what she said. I’ll ask for clarification but she seems exasperated and doesn’t say anything that remotely sounds like the English language. She provides zero context/background and continually directs me to the network drive to find answers. I get there only to find out that these so called files are just as obscure as her answers or they don’t exist. I waste hours upon hours trying to figure out the simplest tasks, during which 3 other deliverables have been dropped or are now late. When this occurs, other women (female dominated) in the company – senior leaders decide to panic and demand an update with input on what we’re going to do to resolve these issues, or improve numbers, etc. So then I have to put together updates and come up with new ideas, all the while trying to find the correct information they seek. By the time that’s happened, I have 2 meetings to jump into where I’m supposed to grab new content on other projects, and, well you get the picture…from there this enormous snow ball keeps rolling and gathering more snow, plummeting toward me.

    90% – no word of a lie, of my job is providing updates to plans with dates, metrics and tasks that will be executed on and who will do it. I must ensure that what I do emulates what my boss use to do to ease the minds of these leaders. My strengths lie in execution, idea generation, creative exploration. I have my own style, as everyone does, but that’s not permitted. I have zero time to demonstrate my skills and everyone thinks I’m incompetent.

    Today my boss tells me that the senior team is not pleased with what I’ve delivered thus far and she needs to jump in, ensuring that I’m doing everything correctly. She told me that she’s going to review all of my emails to ensure that I’m communicating to the leadership team properly and ‘groom’ me for success as I’m not heading there at the moment and will fail without this level of support. I also need to develop my so called ‘personal brand’.

    It’s gotten to the point where I believe that I’m incompetent, an idiot with a pathetic identity – a nobody and way over my head. I have to remind myself that the target requirements they’ve created for eg. attendance to events, participation in targeted campaigns, etc. are completely and utterly unrealistic and NO one could deliver on this (aside from my boss who has 12 years under her belt in the organization). But no matter how hard I try to convince myself of this, I feel miserable every day – stuck in a living nightmare.

    Today I took a phone interview and rambled on about my skills in a manner that someone without confidence would do – uncertain of why I did what I did or what the main objective was. This is a job I would love to have where they’re seeking creative minded people who come up with new ideas, but I may have blown it. My current job is impacting my ability to impress another organization and that’s what scares me the most.

  • clamel

    Wow I’m seeing a lot of similarities to my situation. I’ve been at my current job for only 4 months and the workload is out of this world. In combination with trying to learn everything from scratch, I’m frantically trying to deliver on a pre-defined plan, ensuring I meet the timelines as specified. My boss thinks she’s helpful and provides very obscure descriptions to answer my questions, using every cliche marketing term from ’sweat to bread’, ’from such and such a perspective’, ’line of sight’, ’thought leadership’ and the list goes on, to the point where she sounds brilliant but I’m not sure what she said. I’ll ask for clarification but she seems exasperated and doesn’t say anything that remotely sounds like the English language. She provides zero context background and continually directs me to the network drive to find answers. I get there only to find out that these so called files are just as obscure as her answers or they don’t exist. I waste hours upon hours trying to figure out the simplest tasks, during which 3 other deliverables have been dropped or are now late. When this occurs, other women (female dominated) in the company – senior leaders decide to panic and demand an update with input on what we’re going to do to resolve these issues, or improve numbers, etc. So then I have to put together updates and come up with new ideas, all the while trying to find the correct information they seek. By the time that’s happened, I have 2 meetings to jump into where I’m supposed to grab new content on other projects, and, well you get the picture…from there this enormous snow ball keeps rolling and gathering more snow, plummeting toward me.

    90% – no word of a lie, of my job is providing updates to plans with dates, metrics and tasks that will be executed on and who will do it. I must ensure that what I do emulates what my boss use to do to ease the minds of these leaders. My strengths lie in execution, idea generation, creative exploration. I have my own style, as everyone does, but that’s not permitted. I have zero time to demonstrate my skills and everyone thinks I’m incompetent.

    Today my boss tells me that the senior team is not pleased with what I’ve delivered thus far and she needs to jump in, ensuring that I’m doing everything correctly. She told me that she’s going to review all of my emails to ensure that I’m communicating to the leadership team properly and ’groom’ me for success as I’m not heading there at the moment and will fail without this level of support. I also need to develop my so called ’personal brand’.

    It’s gotten to the point where I believe that I’m incompetent, an idiot with a pathetic identity – a nobody and way over my head. I have to remind myself that the target requirements they’ve created for eg. attendance to events, participation in targeted campaigns, etc. are completely and utterly unrealistic and NO one could deliver on this (aside from my boss who has 12 years under her belt in the organization). But no matter how hard I try to convince myself of this, I feel miserable every day – stuck in a living nightmare.

    Today I took a phone interview and rambled on about my skills in a manner that someone without confidence would do – uncertain of why I did what I did or what the main objective was. This is a job I would love to have where they’re seeking creative minded people who come up with new ideas, but I may have blown it. My current job is impacting my ability to impress another organization and that’s what scares me the most.

  • Que

    It feels so good to know that I am not alone in this. I have been at the same job for five years with two other people with no real leadership. At first, it was pretty simple and I learned a lot on-the-fly. However, I knew that there must be more to the job, but was given little help from my two colleagues and there was little documentation.

    About two years ago, we switched our processes from old systems to new and was given a supervisor. Since I knew nothing of the old, I requested to be a part of the team that will work on the technical process from the old system (learning how to move the old to the new), but it was denied by my boss. He wanted me to learn how to program in Python (never did it before).

    Interestingly enough, I learned alot of Python. I was pretty happy with it, but was not that good, since I was never a programmer. Luckily, we hired a developer.

    One colleague quit the job a few months back. He was frustrated with the lack of development. I am still here with the other co-worker and he is thriving wonderfully. Since he was responsible for the old systems, he has the most background knowledge to apply to the new stuff. I asked him for help for years, but he is pretty unorganized and has difficulty documenting things. He shows me whatever I want to see, but fails to hand over any important projects. I am rarely updated on anything either. Most people turn to him when they need help and he never lets me in on the response or result. (I only learn about it, when he is out of the office for whatever reason.)

    Despite all of that, I am trying to understand the new stuff. I had several talks with my boss last year. I expressed that I was not getting the amount of work that I would like. I felt that I was out of the loop. It took three very humiliating meetings for him to finally understand my prob. Unfortunately, little has changed. My coworker is still in charge of everything, no documentation, and I am closer than ever, but still left pretty far behind him and the developer in a true understanding of our systems.

    Yes, I talked with him, but he blamed me. He thinks that I expect more than I should from him. I have been taken notes and listening to every word uttered in our office about the new and old systems, but am still quite lost. I keep thinking that I will catch up.

  • Phat42

    I am extremely invested in my job… evidently too invested. I care too much about things being right and logic and porportion being applied to business practices. I am under stress from every aspect of my life right now and the frustration at work has lead to occasional outbursts and loud discussions. I made the stupid mistake of sharing my feelings with my co-workers. That’s another problem I have, continually forgetting that my co-workers are not friends that I can share my thoughts and feelings with. I am not able to keep up with my work, making mistakes and I am being monitored by security now because I am frusterated and moody … I am perimenapausal which does not help and being stifled, not being able to express myself just adds to the pressure I am under. evidently, someone I work with has voted me most likely to go postal and turned in a report. The world I have evediently just been imagining in my head, where I am good at what I do and am a good leader and work well with others has been completely blown apart. I don’t know what to do to fix this… or if it even can be fixed. I find myself wanting to give up…but being the breadwinner in my household… I can’t. So I am stuck… Can’t keep up, can’t speak freely, can’t get promoted and everyone thinks I am an idiot…. now they have convinced me. Where do I go from here?

  • MS1234

    I’m in medical school. Enough said? Well if not… I feel like I am way behind my peers and that they all know more than me and are doing a better job. I feel like an imposter, like I’m just faking my way through it while everyone else seems to know everything thats asked of them and are able to do everything required. Moreover I have lower than average scores, so that’s like objective evidence that I’m an idiot. (I work like a horse, so its not an effort issue.) I just fear that I’m not catching on as fast as others at my level and that I won’t be able to accomplish everything required of me.

    • Samara

      Dear MS1234

      Obviously you are not stupid – you’re in medical school. What percentage of the population get into medical school? Is it something like the top 2% ! I think the question is more likely – do you enjoy what you are studying? If not, then all the study you’re putting in cannot make up for the lack of passion for the subject. I’ve found it is the passion for the given topic that generally provides the leap of inspiration. It may be that the other students are more interested in what they are studying – it is probably not work to them – they are reading and studying out of their own interest. I used to love reading about art history. However, now that my interest is wained over the years, I can’t remember all the stuff I used to know about all the different art movements, their artists, and manifestoes etc. Is there another area that you are interested in – in regards to medicine? What about medical research? Are you interested in chemistry – there is always a need for new drugs – afterall, the population is getting older and we have to work longer – so we need an elixir of youth. What other off-shoots of medicine might you be interested in? My doctor (a lung/respiratory specialist) works at least 90 hrs per week – frankly, I don’t know what keeps him doing it. Let me know what your thoughts/conclusions are in the next 3 or so weeks. I don’t know if you believe in God, but you can ask Him to help you to understand what you really want to do — what doesn’t seem such a chore. I must admit – last year I commenced a job for which I had studied for twelve years – and hated it. I am now starting all over again – but I believe that God has something good in store for me.

  • AS

    I’ve been feeling this way since 2005 and every year since it seems like it gets worse. I now am looking for a new job and having tremendous anxiety if I will be able to land a new position. I feel paralyzed by this fear and it overwhelms me. On the weekends I stay in bed longer than I should because I cannot even face the day. This depression and anxiety is making me feel worse about myself. I compare myself to others, I don’t speak up in meetings or conference calls and I have problems with remembering things I’ve read, and problems just learning new information. I don’t articulate well what I want to say, it sounds idiotic to me. I feel a little better knowing I’m not alone. I feel so alone in this and embarrassed to admit to anyone.

    • Samara

      Dear AS

      You have the same symptoms as me. I was always tired, no matter how many hours I slept – averaging 10 -12. Full of fear and didn’t feel I could do anything, or take in anything that I was meant to learn. Sometimes I was so full of fear I couldn’t even walk with a normal gait. I couldn’t keep more than one thought in my head at any one time, everything I did was difficult and an uphill battle – always too lethargic. I had to write everything – and I mean everything, down. Normally once articulate, the most basic sentence structure was a major feat and generally came out very inarticulately and grammatically incorrect. Yes, these are symptoms of depression. Depression is not about feeling depressed or sad. You are depressed because you feel powerless – you can’t ‘fix’ yourself to the standard that you feel is acceptable to other people – especially your co-workers and bosses. I wish more Christian books would discuss and analyse what is going on in the workplace. It is as if the workplace is trying to destroy the human spirit. I have been in the workforce for over 30 years, and it wasn’t once like this. They didn’t just hire you and then stand back to see if you swum or sunk – they understood that a new employee needs a lot of nurturing at first – and then at regular intervals. As one company director (now unfortunately passed away) once said to me, every new employee takes 6 mths to fit into a new role – no matter what their capabilities. I think the problem is that we are now encouraged to integrate our identities into our jobs. Afterall, our jobs have become more intensified, requiring longer hours, more education – we expect them to reward us in some way for our hard slog. What are your co-workers/boss attitude towards you? Their attitudes once had a major effect on my mental health, but after having taught teenagers, I realise that many people have not mentally grown past their teenage years – they are still bullies. Their attitudes are still the same. Look at them as if they were 15 years of age rather than a mature adult – and perhaps this will clarify what type of people they are.

      • As others have remarked, bang on Samara. It’s incredible how the criticisms eat up your very existence. The spectacular moments when ‘you’re on’ aren’t good enough because there were 3 occasions where you weren’t perfect. My boss tells me every day now how she thinks I’ll screw up the management of an upcoming event when I haven’t yet but due to being human – forgetting the odd detail as I learn (new in the role), that must be a certainty of our demise. Forget the glass is half empty, in her world it’s a sahara desert.

        Hang in there my friend. I’m not sure if this helps but today I reported my boss to HR. There is, as usual, very little that they do; however he did suggest that he could put together a meeting, with him there to ensure that people stay professional, to discuss a mutual lay off date in which we agree that the relationship isn’t working and I’ll wrap up any work that’s required of me, leaving at a time when my services are not needed as much. This way one can collect EI while finding something more suitable. Don’t get me wrong, this could go terribly wrong but if you feel like it’s impacting your confidence and ability to think clearly then you need some personal mending time before heading to the next job. Nothing is worth that type of demoralization.

        • Samara

          Dear Everybody

          I have finally heard over Christian radio (Rhema Central Coast) an article on Workplaces driving you crazy. It is by Archibald Hart and titled “The Crazy-Making Workplace”. Guys, you will so relate !! Here’s a link.

          You can hear it over your pc, or ipod.



    • Que

      AS, You sound so much like me. I prided myself of my intelligence for most of my life. Now, I find it hard to stay focused. I don’t understand what is going on alot of the time. Part of it is management. He doesn’t explain things well, but you are still responsible for the task. For me, the other part is the work group. I have wondered for awhile if there is a need for me there.

      I don’t speak up in meetings, but I think that is because I don’t feel confident in my words. With all of this comes the backlash of being treated like I don’t know. So, when I do have an answer, I get praised for it…no matter how simple. (Degrading.)

      Not sure what the answer is for us, but I can relate to you and how you feel. Just know that you aren’t alone. I think that a job change is in order, atleast for me.

      • A

        Que, in reference to your statement about speaking up in meetings, I feel the same way. I honestly don’t feel enough confidence in myself to say more than a few words. Idk if it’s because the corporate world is new to me, but it seems more suitable when I listen to the discourse rather than speak.

    • johnee

      AS, you can compensate by being more organized. take down notes so you don’t forget. don’t let fear and intimidation get the best of you. you can do it! 😀

  • Anonymous

    I feel stupid at work because my boss is constantly telling me how “maddening” it is to him whenever I make a mistake, and that’s putting it nicely. He’s known for having a bad temper, being disorganized and yelling at other associates oftentimes using bad language at them. I have a hard time NOT reacting to him. I want to scream at him, but usually any attempt to defend myself winds up in me getting a talk about my “attitude”. I’ve tried calmly expressing my thoughts to him, but he just sees this as me being too emotional and will end up picking a male for the project instead of me to avoid these problems. I work for a private marketing agency, so I’m afraid there’s no HR to help out. In fact, his wife runs the business with him so she’s not able to provide an unbiased opinion. I usually end up feeling ganged up on. That, or she’ll say that my boss only likes to talk to the “boys club” to handle things. I’m a recent graduate and I held a corporate job heretofore for 7 years to get through school. I’m having a real hard time adjusting to all the new tasks being given. I don’t know how to handle sexism. I don’t want to quit because this truly a great job and I love what I do I’m just not sure how to handle who I do it for. All I know is that I used to have high self esteem and now I think I’m pretty much the biggest idiot ever since that’s apparently what my boss thinks.

  • A

    I know I’m 3 years late in commenting, but I just now typed the “feeling stupid” phrase into Bing. I recently started a new job that I enjoy, and it’s not my supervisor that makes me feel stupid, but a couple of my colleagues. I’m new & @ entry-level, so I’m still learning how things work, but some of the employees that have been there longer and are in positions above me assume that I already know what they’re talking about when they’re telling me about the quandaries they encounter in executing their various tasks. Sometimes they pause mid-sentence, like I’m supposed to finish said sentence for them and when I don’t they look @ me as though what they’re saying is common knowledge and I should know what they’re talking about. Now don’t get me wrong- yes, i’ve been familiarizing myself w/the establishment and various terminology and protocol used in accordance with it, so obviously I can grasp some of the conversational content. But aside from that, it’s not like I’ve been there for 20 years….and it makes me feel unintelligent when they look @ me w/slightly raised eyebrows.

    • johnee

      that sucks A. i mean, the one where they speak and pause at mid-sentence and look at you. it happened to me on my first job and i felt like the stupidest person.

      i think newly hired people should give themselves some slack and be realistic when it comes to learning. but don’t be to defensive, your boss might take it against you.

  • A

    AS & Samara, it’s like looking in a mirror: you’ve said it all.

  • sive

    I would like to read more facts. About this FEELING STUPID . Because I am experiencing the feeling right now,The company I am working for took me to attend the training for 3 weeks, in the training I wasn’t competent becz of my behavior and my attitude, everytime I was attending I was feeling shy to answer some questions becauze I ddnt like people to laugh at me if the answer is wrong so I didn’t enjoy the traing though it is my dream to delop in skill and get a better position

  • Actually it is not about work, it’s about school because I’m still in college. Today we had a group presentation and each of us has to present an assigned topic. Speaking in front of the people is really my weakness. What I did is to familiarize the details about the assigned topic. During the presentation, I was really nervous that I end up stuttering and pronounced the words incorrectly. I was really embarrassed because I can feel that some of my classmates were chuckling so the rest of my presentation was ruined. What keeps playing on my mind right now is the impression of my classmates to me. They might think that I’m stupid or I’m such a shame and I’m afraid that they might see me as a low-leveled person. I’m feeling so ashamed right now and it’s really hard to face my classmates on our next meeting. It’s like all their eyes are killing me. Please help 🙁 Thank you so much!

    • Samara

      Hi bazziexbanana

      You know what, you are not responsible for what other people are thinking. You are only responsible for your own response. In other words, you are not responsible for anything anyone does or says, only for what you do and say. Why are you upset with yourself, for the other students’ chuckling. They were the ones who were rude. I used to teach high school, and I would have expected students – who are now in college – to get over their wanting to put others down so that they could feel better about themselves – and this is what they were doing. It is called bullying. They were trying to take your moment away from you. They wanted to exercise that “power”. Go and speak to your teacher and ask why he/she did not put those students out of the classroom immediately?? When students do that in future, pause, give them the eye, ask them have they quite finished behaving like jealous children in the classroom? In the adult world, behaviour like that is called professional discourtesy – and those who are discourteous lose their professional credibility. At 48 years old, I’ve finally come to realise why I had problems in the past, besides being a Christian, many sensitive and vulnerable personality types do not have a very good deflective shield (so to speak); many of the sly, evil comments seem to sink into their skin and get into their hearts and one starts going over all of our (assumed) failings. If you feel uncomfortable with people, what is it that THEY are doing/saying to make you feel this way? I feel that there has been a real degeneration of human character in the last 15 years. The Bible tells us this will happen. I feel this is because people are making up their own moral code due to the growing and erroneous belief that truth is relevant. Are you a Christian? If so, as you prayer to God, put on the armour of God Go through a whole day believing you are a princess, a child of God, a soldier, that what others might be saying and thinking (now that I am 48, I realise that others don’t think about other people very much at all, they are generally thinking much more about themselves and their own faults), is just so childish and pathetic, and that you are above such rubbish. But most of all, don’t be so conscious of yourself and assume others are watching and interested in your “assumed” inevitable failure. I tell you, one way of becoming immune to embarrassment is to be a high school teacher. The students tell you of all your “failings” – in their so-called opinion. Remember, just because somebody has an opinion, doesn’t mean it is right. What do you believe? And lastly, remember that you are a human, not a machine. I hope this helps.

      • Thank you so much for a quick response, sir. Actually, they are not doing any rude towards me. Its just that I feel like I’m such kind of a loser that time and I know it’s really wrong. Sometimes, I think, it’s because of insecurity I feel like I want to be as good as the others. And I think I can’t really help myself. Yes, I’m a Christian. I realize, the evil is strongly convincing me. I should not be carried away. Yes, I believe I’m God’s princess. I’m good and I know there’s something in me that could somehow inspire the others too. Thank you so much for a very inspiring advice. I will never forget it. Now I’m feeling good and my self-belief is back. I will continue fighting! Once again. thank you. I hope you will inspire more others who have experiences like this. God bless you and your family 😀

  • Reblogged this on bazziexbanana.

  • Sunny L

    My new boss is very experienced. He’s my third new boss in 2 months– I’ve been there only 2 months — but they treat me like I should know everything… and yet no one has trained me! To do anything! Everything I know I’ve had to figure out myself or ask a billion questions about. And they get annoyed when I ask questions like it’s something I should know… but usually I ask about things that I’ve not been trained on. And I was just looking for some comfort and advice.

    • Samara

      Dear Sunny L

      Your email highlights one of the main problems with the workplace nowadays. There is no proper handovers anymore, or ongoing training or mentoring. It is because every workplace is now trying to ensure that every minute is producing income. Companies are cutting employee numbers to the bone. Employers, stupidly, don’t link up the dots between training etc and productivity. You say your boss is very experienced; is it he that expects you to know everything? If so, perhaps you can have a meeting with him and explain how you are new, and as you have had so many bosses, your learning has been non-existent and it has been left up to entirely to yourself to pick things up. But, to tell you the truth, I don’t think it is you that is the problem here – though people in your workplace will try and make you feel that – if you let them. I think you are working within a distressed workplace that appears to be going through some changes. If you are not being trained, and everybody expects you to know the answers, and feel annoyed if you ask questions (which is what you should be doing if you are new), this smacks of a workplace culture that has become selfish and gone into “hunkering” mode. You may be the meat in the sandwich because you are new, are insecure because you are new and don’t feel you know much yet, and therefore you are being treated like the scapegoat. People need to vent their passive hostility when they are not happy in their workplace. They can’t do it to their superiors or their employers, otherwise they can be in trouble for a bad attitude, so they will sometimes vent it on the employee that has the least power and lack of allies (ie, somebody new and in a junior position). I am not sure of your situation, so I have just written what came to my mind reading your note. I hope it helps. I feel quite heartbroken (and angry too at this destructive world) when I read people’s notes.

    • Samara

      Dear Sunny L (and everybody else)

      I get an email (devotional message) sent each day from the website below. It really puts things into perspective about what is happening in the workplace today.

      Prime Time With God

      It is by:

      Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

      They are really powerful messages, and it is amazing how, at the end of the day, when I turn my pc on, these short messages answer a lot of what I have been puzzling over during the day.

  • CK

    I worked at my previous job for 11 years. I knew everything inside and out. They relocated so I had to look for a new position. I was so excited when I landed my current job. I was so proud of myself.

    Fast forward 6 months, and i’m miserable. I feel so stupid all of the time. I asked a question on excel yesterday and although the question was answered today I was told I have to take an excel class they just happen to be running one….yea right.

    I’m very upsep and frustrated. I miss my old job. I’m constantly feel stupid and dumb and I feel like they are trying to get rid of me. I wake up every morning dreading coming to work.

  • scatterbrain

    I found this by entering the phrase “I feel like an idiot at work” into google. I’m in a strange situation at work. I’ve been there for 18 years, have trained many people and have a good reputation. Some even describe me as “the best.” But that makes me cringe, because I don’t feel like the best. I’m not. Perhaps I was at one time, but not now. I feel like coworkers and bosses have expectations of me that I can’t live up to anymore. I feel like I’m just skating by on my reputation. I’ve felt this way for some time because many of the people I’ve trained are actually better at the job than I am now. They’re faster than I am. And it’s pretty humiliating to be shown something you didn’t know about by someone you’ve trained. One coworker in particular does this. I’m not mad at him at all; he’s intelligent and a hard worker, and I know he doesn’t do it with the intention of making me feel like an idiot. Rather, I get mad at myself for not being as intelligent. Whenever I train someone (which I’ve been doing a lot of lately), I always manage to screw something up or overlook something and end up completely embarrased and ticked off at myself. They’re the simplest things, too. I even explain to trainees that I’m not the most organized person, that I’m a bit scatter brained and to please bear with me. I’m beginning to feel really incompetent. I want to move into a better position within the company, but the right opportunity never seems to come along and I’ve gotten to a point where I feel like I might not be smart enough for the type of postion I have in mind anyway. I tell myself “maybe tomorrow I’ll do better,” but I don’t…it’s always the same. I don’t know what to do anymore.

    • Samara

      Dear Scatterbrain

      It could be that you have lost interest in your current position, which I gather you have already realised because you want to go for another position. However, if you are a Christian, you have to remember that we are at war with Satan and his associates who want to steal, kill, and destroy us. Don’t give them a foothold into your head by allowing them to make you think you are “scatterbrained”. The effect is that you outwork scatterbrained actions. Don’t also put it into other people’s mind that you are scatterbrained either – when you say it out loud, it can have the effect of putting a curse on yourself. Don’t entertain these negative thoughts – think of them as Satan’s arrows – deflect them immediately they come into your head with an appropriate verse from the Bible. I’ve had to learn this the hard way. Seek some help from a Christian counsellor, as “scatterbrainedness” and forgetfulness is also a sign of depression. Hope this note doesn’t sound harsh, but I’m in a hurry to do some work and just had to send off this note because I know what it feels like. Remember, Satan is a liar, but if a person has something, even the smallest thing, against you, Satan can make it into a really big thing, and you can wonder why a person hates you or has contempt for you – for no real reason. This happened with a past boss of mine. Also, are you keeping up your skill and learning? Do you sense that your company thinks you are a good trainer and are keeping you in that position but not promoting you? Think about what is really bringing your morale down. Hope this helps.

      • scatterbrain

        Thank you, Samara. I’m not a Christian; however, you have still given me something to think about. I just wish I could find a way to be more organized and stop making stupid mistakes while training people. I’ve always been that way, even with prior jobs. I guess that is what is bringing my morale down: myself, in more ways than one.

    • Scatterbrain – Make a list of all the things you are good at, where you are adding value to the company in a way that no one else can do, and concentrate on THAT. Get opinions from others you work with. Why would you be hired into this position unless you had something of value to offer the organization, the people you are working with? When you have a strong confidence in your strengths and the unique things you bring to the company, you will be more comfortable not stressing over the things you are not so good at. You’ve had plenty of experience, and should capitalize on your greatness. Learn what you need to learn to keep up with the job, but don’t let people intimidate you for things that may be someone else’s job to know anyway.

  • tryinghardtoplease

    I’m so glad I found this site because I can relate to so much of what has been posted. In fact, when I make a mistake at work I sometimes say out loud, “You Idiot. You stupid idiot.” I am a manager, an older worker, and have a years of management experience. I also graduated college with honors. I was laid off from my last job and it was like a jolt to my system then I found a very good paying job right up my alley. It was a piece of cake. Now I question everything I do. My boss does not give any feedback, never has, so I never feel as confident as I should. I was thinking I had mental health issues until I found this blog. Now I know I’m normal and human and that I just have a boss who is very poor at getting the best out of his staff. My wife constantly boosts my moral until I have to sit in a meeting and see my boss’s face, like he hates me. My question is how do get to a place of peace with your boss and ignore the little voice that constantly gives negative comments..

    • It is unlikely that your boss hates you. Sounds like you need to strengthen your relationship with the boss. Sit down with him and get some direct feedback on (a) the expectations he has for your job/role, b) the specific outcomes/metrics they expect that will allow you to know you are doing a great job; and (c) How you are doing so far. The boss will appreciate your forthright assertiveness. Any dopehead would want to know these things from their boss, and the boss should have already told you. But most bosses don’t have the common sense for this. A great book on this subject is, “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go”

      Check it out. Or better yet, buy a copy for your boss to read.

  • I have a mantra inside that is not good. I’m not sure what it is saying, but I don’t operate well so I tend to think that it is negative. I run into so many mistakes i am frozen to even try. It’s a negative cycle. I may be repeating something from a previous post, i only read about 10 to 20 posts, but you have a great way of encouraging against all odds and at great risk. This is what i would like to be too – an encourager, but it comes out fake like i’m just trying to encourage. having trouble just being ok with who i am. not sure who i am. i work for an architect. we draw commercial buildings and spaces mostly. I am not a workaholic, but i have very little concept of a personal life. I know the importance of being well-rounded so I quit at 5 each day having accomplished seemingly nothing every day.

  • I am an assistant to an Architect. He tells me I am doing fine, but I keep feeling like I am doing nothing. He writes everything and draws everything and checks everything I do which is not very much (i am writing this on company time). I know he works hard to not throw things that i do out because i have a way of helping myself to negativity (I actually feed off of it much of the time) and i usually can do a good enough job – but it seems barely good enough. I have trouble focusing, being serious, talking to others with power and authority and mostly I have trouble being confident in what I do because I’m not sure I understand what I do or why what I do exists. this does not lend itself to having or presenting a clear direction. I’m not sure why I exist most of the time. I have always been self-reflective, but it’s like the place where i need to be is somewhere less self-reflective and more in reality which is hard when you work in a job of conceptual reality. I get so frustrated when he brings me seemingly simple tasks that I can’t seem to finish. He acts like they should be simple. He uses plain talk and is short and to the point, but when i start to do stuff many times it turns into a complicated and jumbled mess of rules and regulations and laws and seemingly meaningless distractions that keep me from the goal. I used to draw walls and it was a struggle to get all the codes out and guess how mechanical and electrical systems might work. now i struggle with things like finding flood maps online or planning or managing the older more mature smarter draftsman who i am supposed to direct. Sometimes I struggle with finding applications online. I feel like the world is at my fingertips and yet, i am not able to access it because I am frozen in fear of failure and rejection because i don’t understand my job.

  • Rachel

    I once had a therapist tell me I have the short version of Imposter’s Syndrome. I’m very intelligent (ugh), educated, competent, and have always been successful at work – after a few months, that is. Regardless of the situation, I am an insecure, self-conscious wreck when I start a job. I sweat. I repeat myself. I sound like a complete idiot (that’s what I tell myself, anyway, as I go over the minutiae of each day in my head. Over. And over). I’m convinced I will be fired. I question how I ever made a friend. I see every flash of a facial expression as an eye roll and indictment of my character. I hate myself. I want to flee, or worse…Then the months pass and all is well. Suddenly, I am a valued expert and member of the team. The mind is a very strange place.

  • Suzannah

    I feel dumb at my job. Mindlessly slapping meat and cheese between 2 pieces of bread so people can pay 6 bucks for a sandwich they could easily make at home… So repetitive. I feel like a monkey could do my job. Wait he’s smarter than me, he doesn’t need a job to survive. Why do I need this amazing complex brain to make sandwiches? Wait, I don’t.

  • Diane

    What if its the other way around? What if I hear that I am making people feel stupid at work and that I come across as a know it all?

  • Hi,

    I am not sure if you are still actively reading and responding to people anymore, but I do need help and advice. I feel sooooooo stupid at this new job I have been at for about a little over one year. I went from a small company to a large company and feel like a fish out of water. Not to mention that I have a boss that keeps reminding me how stupid a decision I made was and is constantly comparing my work to that of my coworkers. I don’t want to just leave because others have told me that I would be giving up, but everyday something goes extremely wrong for me and I feel it just solidifies what my boss already thinks of me. I can’t eat or sleep and I am working hard evryday to be a good wife and mother of a two year old. I am so stressed and feel everyday that I am no good where I am. I feel that I am more of a liability than an asset. What can or should I do ?

  • Samara

    Dear Westside Girl,

    I hope you don’t mind me responding. I’m in a nice environment now, and in hindsight it is so clear how there are toxic managers and environments out there just waiting to destroy the unsuspecting new employee. As they say, employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Why would you NOT lose confidence when you are still settling into a very different environment, but especially when you have a boss, whom you are meant to respect, and also expect that he/she will give you the encouragement to do a good job, keeps denigrating you! It beggars belief that companies still put up with bad managers. A manager is meant to manage people well, to bring the best out of individuals, and help them become a cohesive team that works well together. People never reach their potential unless they are ENABLED by those who are in charge of them. This manager obviously does not have people/team building expertise. Your co-workers obviously think this boss is also picking on you, by their encouragement “not to give in”. What about writing yourself a list of all the things that you are afraid of, make mistakes in, and what you can do to reduce them. Remember, constant mistakes are not a sign of stupidity. Notice how you have only made them since you started at this job and have become stressed? Fear is taking up a lot of your brain power. Say no to fear and just concentrate on what you are doing each moment of the day. Can you write out a list of what you have to do each day, get in early and start on those tasks, so if anything unforseen occurs you have the time to think about what to do? You probably feel very exhausted and everything is just such hard work – nothing is coming easily. This is stress. Whenever you are about to come into your boss’ presence, take in a few deep breaths, and stand very tall and straight – as if you have a rod down your back – when in his/her presence. You will be amazed by the effect it has on teenagers. Posture and body language affects how others respond to you. It also effects how you feel about yourself. Also, give yourself a timeline. Say two months. If things don’t get any better, then leave. But if you think that you have only two months there, this might be the psychological nudge that you need to feel better. Remember, you are a human, not a pc.

  • J. Michael

    The question of vulnerability at work is an interesting one – and counterintuitive to how we have often been trained to succeed. See the link below for a good perspective on how our vulnerability is opportunity for God’s strength to fill in the blanks of what is needed to serve our true purpose.

    Great post, Shrinking Camel.

  • Heather

    I feel as though I could be really good at my job with a little bit of support and training. Instead, I feel thrown into the lion’s den pretty much everyday. My boss makes me feel like an idiot for not understanding things that I WOULD completely understand, if I just had a little bit of help. I know I am naturally intelligent, but my current job makes me question my own value every single day. The only relatively good part of my day is leaving, and I find myself looking for any reason to leave early, come in late, take a long lunch, just so I can avoid the confidence killer that is my job.

    I would gladly take a pay cut to be in an environment that fills me up instead of draining me.

  • Joy

    Ha ha, I am one of those who Googled “I feel stupid at work.” Been reading the posts and see a lot of myself in every one of them. Some were because of psychopath bosses. I feel all of your pain. It is not so bad now at my current job as it was at the previous one. But my stupid feelings stem from being so overwhelmed with focusing on details that I miss the common sense, obvious stuff which makes me feel REALLY stupid. The higher ups at my company purchased a very bad computer system (we are a beta testing site for it) and it has really taken a toll on my productivity and mental/physical health. Things that were simple tasks before now take forever because of questionable accuracy of the data I’m pulling…so I go in and manually check everything. And I have a touch of OCD, not extreme, but you can imagine how the checking drives me almost insane. To the point that I am so focused on getting the data right, that I am slipping in other areas. I am exhausted. I forget things. A LOT of things. I make stupid mistakes on a regular basis. I think my boss wonders about me. I try to laugh at myself but I am really very bitter about this database change that I had no input on. And we’ve had it for a year now and it has not improved one iota. It is not a matter of someone moving my cheese, either. It is truly a lousy system. And now that the managers have figured out that they can’t get the system to work either, they are dumping it on their underlings to do. There is even a manager who has no authority over me but is trying to manipulate the situation so he can make me do his reports for him. I told my manager no way am I putting up with that. I am putting my foot down on this one. I can’t get my own data to come out right, let alone try to figure out where to find his information.

    Also, this summer I had to combine mailing lists in Excel format from three different organizations for a summer concert we were having. Not one of the businesses bothered to update their mailing lists. They just emailed me the same old lists they used the previous two years. So I had to merge them and purge the duplicates and eliminate the ones that I knew had moved or passed away. Now keep in mind, this list had about 2500 names on it. I don’t know every person in the county. I worked hard on it. I have OCD so trust me, it was triple-checked. It took me a week to do. But at my last performance review, my manager (who is usually a good, easy going guy but he is known to be very picky about details and wanting things done a certain way) said I was doing a great job (didn’t expect that considering the issues with the database)…then dropped the other shoe by saying he was disappointed that I didn’t recognize that there were some names that were obsolete in that huge 2500 mailing list. I felt very stupid. Because yes, I should have recognized so-and-so’s name and removed it. But then I felt angry. I was like, seriously? You’re going to criticize me for THAT? I triple-checked it! It’s not like I just pulled it out of my wazoo. So what if a few invitations got returned in the mail? How is that a big deal compared to the database nightmare I deal with every day? I just looked at him and said “well ya know, my brain can only hold so much, and I cannot know every person in this city, and those three businesses could have updated their own lists but just gave the the same ones from the prior two years. They need to take a little responsibility for their own lists.” I am to the point that I don’t care. I feel hopeless and angry. And I feel like an idiot when I forget simple things. I do the negative self-talk and call myself an idiot. Part of it is because my boss is so picky. I am always trying to please him but everything I try to do he is not satisfied with. Not that he ever makes a big deal about it but I’ll send him the meeting minutes that I’ve worked on all day, and he will COMPLETELY change them. He does that with everything I do. Now I feel like, why am I bothering with this when he will just change them. It makes me feel like he thinks I am dumb and can’t even handle meeting minutes. I have post-it notes all over my cubicle to remind me of things. I am obsessive about keeping to do lists. Because if it’s not on a list, chances are good it might be forgotten. It is just like there is so much in my brain that it can’t take any more information at all. I am burned out. I am basically just coasting now. I have found out that if you care and work to do your best, you either miss something else and mess up royally, or you do TOO good of a job and then they expect even more from you. I am taking all kinds of expensive specialty vitamins to increase my energy and memory and decrease my stress and improve my mood and help me sleep. I used to take Xanax to manage the stress but I think that affects my short term memory so I quit taking it, however the increase in the stress I feel seems to make my brain freeze up. When in a team meeting and someone asks me a question, I freeze. I cannot think of a coherent, intelligent-sounding answer. I feel everyone’s eyes on me and can feel that I am blushing like a tomato, which then embarrasses me even more. I guess I am writing this now because I have another performance review tomorrow and I am dreading it. I actually feel like I could throw up right now. Sorry for being so windy but I needed to get it out.

    • Rachel

      Joy –

      I feel your pain! It really sucks that your boss is putting you through all that. It DOES sound, though, like you are probably a really good, valued employee that is too hard on herself (which is exactly what makes you a good employee). Think of all the yahoos that you work with or who have seniority/power over you – Are you REALLY that much worse than them? Of course you’re not. Do they forget little things and make mistakes, too? Of course they do. They just don’t CARE as much as you do, about their jobs or what people think of them.

      I hope things get better for you and that you are a bit easier on yourself. Thank you for sharing!

    • Samara

      Hi Joy

      It sounds like you are good at your job, why else would another manager pick you to do his reports for him? I would also suggest that if a manager is picking at something so ridiculous as a few obsolete addresses, you may find that they have been instructed to find some negative in order to rationalise not giving you a pay rise or bonus. The decision here is usually a budgetary decision, one in which they have only so many heads in the company for which they can approve funds. You sound like you need a holiday.

      I went from a subordinate support position, then to a professional position in an unrelated field, and now I am back in a subordinate support position – just currently temping, and I am amazed at the way people treat you differently depending on your perceived “status”. I now realise that the treatment that a subordinate undergoes is not so much about an individual’s performance, it is more about having power over another human being. I used to care about my performance and what others thought, but now I just do the best I can, and my worth is not based on what other’s think. If they WANT to think badly of me, they will. You will find that people that are critical of you, WANT to think badly of you – there is usually some jealousy lurking underneath. Of course, whilst you are in the middle of this, and feeling bad about yourself, you cannot see this. You cannot see what possible worth they see and could be jealous of, and this is part of their aim – to make you feel small in order to make themselves feel big – even though it is all in the sub-conscious realm. There is an excellent book by Pete Wilson titled “Empty Promises”. You must get it. And if you world ever shatters, as mine did, there is another book by Pete Wilson titled “Plan B”. They are two very powerful books, and I have read a lot of books.

      p.s. You are more than just a job. And remember, that is what it fundamentally is; a job. Don’t be sucked into this false promise of “career”. I’ve been in the biggest organisations and seen people work their lives away, only to be replaced at 50 or younger, by younger people. People are stressed because they are being asked to be a winner again and again and again. It is like trying to chase your own tail.

  • BB

    Yet another programmer here.

    I’m really frustrated as I keep feeling like I’m probably the least competent/knowledgeable person on my team. Not that I’m necessarily doing a particularly bad job, but everyone else on my team is top-notch; over half hail from Ivy-League schools and even the ones that don’t have pretty much genius-level intelligence. I don’t think I’m a complete imbecile, but I don’t consider myself particularly smart either. Another problem is that (at least until recently) I was one of the youngest members of the team, so there’s a distinct age/experience difference factoring into this as well.

    I’m trying to take this in stride and see this as a great learning opportunity, which it is, but I feel like this job is taking its toll on my self-esteem. I think this problem is compounded by the fact that I have pretty bad social anxiety. I’m just deathly afraid of saying the wrong thing and making myself out to be an idiot, so often times I just clam up entirely or start a sentence, but stop myself mid-way awkwardly. I even find it really hard to even say “hi” casually or try to engage in casual conversation with my co-workers since our backgrounds are so different; I get flustered when I hear about their past accomplishments because mine are relatively modest. Often times a co-worker might explain a concept to me offhand, but it feels like it goes in one ear and out the other for me. There has been some recent stress in my personal life which might be affecting my learning ability, but even so, I feel so frustrated that I just don’t “get” it right away. I’ve been trying various tricks to improve my memory but I still feel as if I’m hitting a mental barrier which prevents me from really internalising information (at least not without having to go through countless tedious mental drills).

    Back in college I used to be top in my class, and most of my coursework was a breeze. I encountered plenty of tough problems, but I relished being able to think outside the box and really attack a problem from its fundamentals. Nowadays, I feel as if all of my knowledge from school has left me, or at least is woefully inadequate for what I need to know; there’s just so much information overflow that I feel hopelessly behind. This stresses me out because my profession, more so than others, values intelligence and competence above all else.

    Self-esteem has always been sort of a problem for me, though, ever since I was little, so none of this is particularly new for me. I try to stay optimistic, but it’s hard sometimes.

  • I really Believe that article, “Are You Feeling Stupid At Work?

    I’m Here to Help. « Shrinking the Camel” ended up being good!

    I reallycan’t see eye to eye along with you even more! Finally looks like I actuallyfound a blog website worthy of looking through. Thanks, Mia

  • I have to say, I’m feeling the same way. I just started my first job after graduation as a portfolio analyst for a large insurance company and I feel so dumb… my friends are congratulating me and consider me to be extremely intelligent, but at work I feel like I’m just not absorbing things or understanding as much as I should be.

    I can put myself across as a really charismatic and confident person, but when it comes to my intelligence I’ve always struggled to prove my worth. Now that it’s work time, it’s even worse!

    It’s been two weeks since I started and I feel like I should be finding it much easier than I am. Do I just need to give it more time?

  • jennifer

    My boss perpisly asks questions of me that the answer is only found in his egotistical dementia somewhere. I hate my job. I’m NOT stupid and he poses question about subjects I know about in a way that makes me wonder what the hell he is talking about. I’m job hunting. When I can match the wage he’s paying me, I’m outty.

    • jennifer

      Sorry for the misspelling! iPhones.

  • David

    I’m the golden child at the ad agency I work at. It’s great! I’m always praised and promoted quickly. However, I’m still a jr-mid level position and I feel incredibly stupid lately. My boss is incredibly intense and I’ve learn to deal with him, but I feel like I can’t assert myself/think around him sometimes. Hands down one of the best bosses I could ask for. But I just feel dumb. I guess you could say I don’t feel “sharp” and “experienced” like he and his equals are…and I feel like I’m called to perform at that level. Just makes it miserable. I don’t know what to do. I’m trying the best I can and obviously it’s paying off – but I dont feel like I can get a grasp on it ever. I’m always behind.

  • I’m the golden child at the ad agency I work at. It’s great! I’m always praised and promoted quickly. However, I’m still a jr-mid level position and I feel incredibly stupid lately. My boss is incredibly intense and I’ve learn to deal with him, but I feel like I can’t assert myself/think around him sometimes. Hands down one of the best bosses I could ask for. But I just feel dumb. I guess you could say I don’t feel “sharp” and “experienced” like he and his equals are…and I feel like I’m called to perform at that level. Just makes it miserable. I don’t know what to do. I’m trying the best I can and obviously it’s paying off – but I dont feel like I can get a grasp on it ever. I’m always behind.

  • Liz

    I graduated with my Associates in November of 2011 and was hired to a paralegal at the law firm I did my externship at. I love organization and learning anything and everything. I was told that I wouldn’t fully understand my job at least for a year. Its been a year and they were right, there is so much detail and information that it was difficult to keep up. At first the mistakes were somewhat normal for someone knew and experiencing new job pressures but now I’m finding that I’m making stupid mistakes.

    I try to review everything before it leaves my office or my inbox but somehow I miss one minor mistake such as one misspelling of a name or get the wrong state. I’ve never been in “trouble” and have to have a “talk” with the attorneys but I do confess that I made the mistake and own up to. I’ve lost my job through a merger and that’s what pushed me for a degree which is a specialized degree in Paralegal Studies. I’ve always wanted to work in a law firm and understand law. I’m just unsure if I’m in the right department or if I should just stick to a secretarial job-which I don’t want because I see the way the attorney’s treat their secretary’s. Another paralegal in department says I’m really good and that I’m paralegal material but I just need to keep paying attention to detail. Its just so frustrating that I feel good after I’ve prepared something that I think is incredibly worthy to find out that it’s wrong. Is it perhaps I’m still not confident in my new role? Have I missed something? I feel like I put in so much time just to check things for their only to be mistakes in the end…

    My bosses are great and I feel horrible that I’m dumb and non-new paralegal that can’t get it together.

  • stacy

    The reason I feel stupid at work is I feel that I m not living up to the expectations of my coworkers. My coworkers sees me as someone whos a fast learner and hardworking. One of my supervisor was so impressed that he complimented me in front a group of people. But I feel so pressured the more they think highly of me. I dont think im as good as they think. I dont know if its experience or age, but I feel I cant partcipate in intelligent meaningful conversations with them or when I have to ask about things im expected to have learned or when I dont completely understand what im doing. Im always afraid im not learning fast enough. Im also scared of losing passion in what im doing…

    • cocosmom

      I know exactly what you mean. I feel the same way. It’s nice to hear the compliments but now you feel like you can’t let them down. I don’t like to speak up in staff meetings for fear of saying something dumb. I do have a hard time articulating my thoughts and feel stuck sometimes. I don’t feel like I’m “intelligent” but I work hard and try to do my best.

      When I do open up to friends or therapists about this, they all seem to think I’m imagining it. I think we tend to over internalize our insecurities. I find that I compare myself to others and feel like I should be able to be just like them, and if not, then I’m not good enough, smart enough, learn quickly enough, etc…

      What I’m beginning to realize is that as long as nobody has approached me and actually told me there were concerns that I’m not understanding my job or that I need to participate more actively in discussions, or any of the things I feel inadequate about, then I must be imagining things or over critical or myself, or even battling with perfectionism.

      I have to work hard at accepting myself and being kinder to myself. There is too much noise going on in my head, but it seems if I speak positively to myself and tell myself I’m good enough, it helps my confidence and alleviates some of the anxiety I experience. I work hard, do my best and try to improve in the areas I feel are needed and I keep reminding myself that no one is perfect and I don’t have to be, either. That is all you can do and kudos to you for the acknowledgement from your boss, that really says something about you.

  • david

    i have same issue but very serious. the problem is whenever i face a new person or when so many eyes are on me i feel confused and at that i am unable to speak out even a single word from my mouth. if i try to speak i speak incomplete sentences. so i feel dumb in front of other coworkers. but when i am with my friends and in close gathering it is fine for me to speak and face. plz tell me how to overcome this problem because it is very serious and i don’t want to live like that.

  • Lost

    Here’s my dilemma; last May, I got a job as a test analyst for an IT consulting company. I ended up taking on a lot more responsibility on a project I was on, and subsequently got promoted to a junior BA position. Once this happened, I was approached by the president of my company and asked if I would be interested in pursuing a certification (a Pega BA Cert). I stated I would, and started to study for the test. This past january, I passed the CBA exam, and am now a Certified BA. Thing is, I studied the terminology in a cram style study guide and don’t really understand that much of what I learned. I just know the key terms and what they are related to…not how it actually works. I’m also a horrible BA, as I have no experience whatsoever (I was in Tech Support for many years previously) and everything I do is a learning experience and there is therefore a learning curve. I continue to get more and more responsibility and still don’t understand half of what I’m doing fully. I just got hired on as as junior CBA (Certified Business Architect) to a huge project worth lots and lots of money for my company which I start tomorrow, and I’m freaking out. This is a lot of pressure. Just reading through the 320 page proposal and 300 page project plan is making my head spin. I don’t understand a lot of the terminology as I’ve only been in consulting for 9 months and most of that has been working directly under someone who could guide me in what I was doing. I start this project tomorrow and I am completely freaking out, as I am supposed to be taking over the work of another BA who is moving into a more senior position since the client is asking for much more functionality than they originally wanted (and more functionality = more money for us of course, and a bigger team to handle the changes. Hence my role). All I know is I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight (or ever again) and I’m worried I’m going to blow it big time. I feel stupid…I feel beyond stupid…I feel brain damaged. I really hope this all starts to make sense to me, because if not, this isn’t going to last long. I feel like I just stepped in s**t with this job, and that I’m not at all qualified or worthy of this type of pay or responsibility and that I’m really a fraud, and sooner or later, I’ll be found out. Then its back to desktop support for crap pay and crappier hours. What to do what to do…just dive in and hope for the best I guess

    • Samara

      Hello Lost

      You seem to be panicking because you think you have been promoted to responsibility too fast and too far above your experience and understanding. Are you female, because a lot of women feel this – men seem to be more likely to go with it – picking up knowledge along the way. The place that you now work seem to have confidence in you – there must be a reason? You seem worried about falling flat on your face in the near future. How about accepting that you don’t know a lot about this project since you have JUST been assigned to it – who would!! and take each day as it comes. As each day goes by, think about what you have learnt – it must be more than you knew the day before!. Of course you feel brain-dead and stupid at the moment – you are panicking. I can’t even get a sentence out or remember my sisters’ names when I panic. Just take each day at a time, don’t look too far into the future, don’t see disaster around every corner, don’t feel that everybody thinks you are the lame-duck of the group, and don’t overthink everything. Everybody feels like this when confronted with an unknown task, in an unknown environment, without any real understanding of what is expected of them. Unfortunately, this seems to be increasingly the environment of the IT frontiers.

      1. Take each day as it comes – sometimes, when things are really bad – each hour.

      2. Don’t allow yourself to panic. Keep calm otherwise information can’t get into your brain. Put your hand over your heart and tell yourself whenever you feel worried “don’t let my heart be troubled”

      3. Don’t think the worst by looking pessimistically too far into the future. Give yourself a break – you are learning on the job.

      4. Don’t think you are the lame-duck in the group – you wouldn’t have been assigned to this project if they thought you were one.

      5. Remember, the majority of the people who have posted to this website are perfectionists (who don’t know it) who are disappointed with their “perceived” failings.

      Regards Samara.

  • rosa

    !! This is a little bit about my struggle with work and feeling like an idiot and what i do about feeling like that idiot 🙂 its 1am forgive my hideous writing abilities. Hello 🙂 Im now a waitress, first time! I was previously making sammys at subway. I recently started at a high class dining restaurant that has won awards for being the best. So they are a fear bit stricter than most other cafes/restaurants. Well when i started it was going really good; everyone thought highly of me and said i was a fast learner…so that was the first lot of pressure. Each time id work id learn more and more. Eventually it was becoming a lot to take in so i started making mistakes. The main waitstaff would tell me something once and expect me to remember every little thing as well as doing it fast. So I was under a lot of pressure and i was in the public eye so i couldnt let the customers see what was going wrong. I had a bit of an ego too i didnt want the customers to know i was new. I feel weak. I couldnt let them know that the crazy head chef had just verbally abused me for entering food in wrong because communication was a bit rough with this foreigner and I. He totally told me something other than what he meant. I even repeated what he said several times and then went back once more just to double check!! I walked off whilst they laughed. And so what do ya know. ‘I’ve’ messed up! and mr head chef thinks im a dumb arse…..really…customer aint always right 🙂 —that was only one instance, there were a big beauitful bouquet of them —…So id have bad days, i would be tired some others and i made a few seemingly dumb mistakes but at the time i was trying my best.. you cant always please everyone.. as long as you try your best dont waste your time worrying what they think. JUST try. and get back up when youve had a rough one… it may be hard facing the person who you embarrass yourself in front of constantly (the whole kitchen) But keep your head up and keep trying. because it WILL end well!!!

    I’d loose all my confidence and not want to go back to work. I really didnt like the head chef either… I wasnt consistent. One day id be great then next id be pretty shocking at times. At one point the kitchen thought i shouldnt be serving customers…that was just the way it seemed to them…but nonetheless that made me feel so incredibly useless…I had made some DUMB arse mistakes infront of them… But i wasnt and am still not there yet.. its only been 2 & a 1/2 months and im still learning and so are you 🙂 learning and always making progress all the time. i was sick of being the only one telling myself i was doing a good job but someone has to- love yourself as much as you can.. ive still got to practice that myself but hey (ive moved too so i dont have all my friends to cheer me up…least ive got me mummy :D.. but Im sticking it out! Im still trying. And i thought about some of the positives, for instance i know that now if i go to another restaurant that isnt as polished Ill be f-ing awesome!! Find what helps and keeps you going. Keeps you fighting!… It will get better. Oh and If you’re fired.. good. it wasnt meant to be. But if you continue, (get the most tips 😉 ;)) get used to it all. You’ll be great. Stick with it and at least try get a good reference so all you’re feeling stupid isnt a complete waste of time 😉 wow.. that was big.. no one will read this! 😀 ha!

  • rosa

    This other waitress that works with me is still in school. 2 years younger than me. She has been working there for longer than me but shes got it worse.. She still doesnt serve tables and is always being reminded and gets told off plently.. Talked about a little too when she does something silly. I understand why they get annoyed with her but at the same time i feel for her and am with her 🙂 Someone out there has got it worse than yourself!! :’)

  • gettingbetterallthetime

    I see a common thread in many of these messages. 1: I am new at this job. Do the research and see how long it actually takes to fully orientated to the position. I believe it is normally 9 months to a full year. 2: Everyone is comparing- either themselves to their co-workers, what they think their boss expects or what they were doing before. 3: Everyone seems to lack training specific to the new job.

    Here is my 2 cents. Everyone has felt stupid somewhere – sometime. It is a moment in time and only that. Don’t let Satan take you down that negative spiral. I’ve been there took. I finally said, God put me in this job. He can work through me and I can learn as I go. The most important thing I have learned was to trust Him and whatever plans He has to stretch and grow me. Just like physical exercise, it hurts when you first begin. Hang in there…

  • I work for a doctors office and they are going on electronic medical records. I am so technology stupid I just dont pick things up quickly. Everyone in my office seems to some what get it but I am scared to death!! I went to school at 49 after a divorce and it was a struggle but I did it. It is too late in life to look for another job I will turn 60 in sept and I feel the older I get the harder it is for me to catch on!! I am a nervous wreck about the whole thing!!

    • Ellen

      Hi Beth: Please let me know how you are doing. I work in the medical secretarial field too, and at 55, I can identify with what you are going through. I have just started a job where everything is computerized, and if you miss one step, then everything snowballs and well….the damage is done. My post is being edited right now, but hopefully you will be able to read it and identify with my situation as well.


  • Lyn

    Wow! What an awesome blog! I can relate to those who panic at presenting ideas in meetings and feelings of being incompetent. But you know what? It’s all perfectly normal! The key is to learn and grow from it, and know that everyone at one time or another in their career has experienced these feelings. I am currently facing these same issues, and that’s how I ran across this blog. I’m 50 years old and just made a career change into one of the big 3 automotive companies after a 28 year career with another organization where I was comfortable and know the operations of the org inside and out. I have a BA in Accounting and a Masters in Logistics Management. I feel incompetent every day lately – LOL! I am incredibly overwhelmed with IT objectives, I had a bully who would not orientate me AT ALL to her position that I was assuming, and it doesn’t help that I have to speak about what I hardly understand in meetings. In order to overcome tearing myself apart over what I cannot control, I have adopted a few strategies that I hope might help someone else. First and foremost, I aligned myself with “nice” people who I could ask questions of in order to learn about the business – anybody in the org. Don’t allow yourself to become isolated because of feelings of incompetency! I think everyone is realizing that “relating” about these feelings is healing in itself or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. I do “push through” people to get the information I need, but I am very kind and humble, and admit that I am having difficulty understanding something. Be real, be honest. You will find that most people are very receptive to helping others – asking others for help or opinions empowers them, and makes them feel good – it’s a win win situation. I use this tactic on the lady who would not train me when I really need to use her as a resource. She scours at seeing me, but I keep pushing back with respect and kindness – don’t appease, but be genuine. Don’t beat yourself up over feeling of incompetency or making a mistake – my fiance calls it dwelling – and he’s right, it’s truly a waste of time. If you have a humiliating moment, tell yourself your going to ‘blow it off’ – DON’T DWELL ON IT. If I screw up in a meeting, I tell myself that no one really cares (and they really don’t), and the last thing anyone will do is think about your mistake after 5 pm – you’re the only one dwelling on it – so stop devoting time to it. It’s self-destructive behavior and dwelling is the best way to strip yourself of self-confidence. During meetings, right before I speak I engage in panic mode – to curb it, I tell my self “it’s stupid to get this worked up – it’s natural to be nervous, everyone here hates speaking (and that gives me a sense of being able to relate), and it’s NO BIG DEAL. I think the most important methods to dealing with this is to remember that everyone feels the same way, don’t dwell on mistakes, and build a network of support to carry you through. It’s not easy – I had a melt down this morning, but thanks to all who have posted their experiences, I know my situation is common and I am not alone!

  • Damian

    I am generally a really confident outgoing sociable person. I landed in IT by coincidence some 15 years ago and earn good money so find it tough to leave given th financial commitments we have but I feel like I just don’t belong on a daily basis. I see new starters grasp things quickly but if I am honest I still don’t understand the technical world in which I operate in spite of 15years experience, a masters degree and numorous professional certifications. I know how to pass an exam but I just don’t retain information. In part I think it’s because I’m just not interested in what I do. I feel like colleagues are testing me at every turn and I have to be repeatedly told things. I often feel like there are not enough hours in the day and very little time to myself. I just don’t know how people manage to be successful in work and still manage happy families And work life balance. My wife is more of a ‘creative’ and there is never any logic or urgency around finances. Ultimately I find that this puts even more pressure on me to earn the good money with which i have become accustomed to earning. We are far from wealthy and have had some major financial set backs and I long for the time where we are content, comfortable mortgage etc and I have a job that I enjoy (I can excel at) and I am not so dependent on the job I have at the moment. I have had some successes over the years but I still find myself living in fear. I find myself in comversations that I don’t fully grasp and a firmly believe that the successes that I have achieved are more to do with work ethic and a lot of luck (I can be quite a politician) more than performance and understanding. On the odd occasion I do know what’s going on I get such a buzz and sense of satisfaction but its few and far between. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be good at and know your job well. And yet in persuit of financial stability I keep pushing myself for new challenges and yet more confusion and dispare. I think this in itself is a good trait as it shows ability to push myself but it would be fantastic to follow through! Right now it is 3:42am and I have been up worrying about my latest blunder for 2hrs. It is my sons birthday today and while my wife was excitedly preparing for the celebrations last night I was working late ad then in a foul mood and all to do with work. So the net result is I now feel like a bit of a failure as a dad and husband as well. I would love to have the time and the energy to do more with my family but work generally leaves me feeling low. So – I feel some,what trapped. I know the work I do, or rather my performance in the work I do, leaves me feeling low in self esteem but I am chained to the salary to provide a good standard of living for my family. It feels almost materialistic writing it. Why can’t I be one of those people that jet don’t prioritize money (and thereby enters a resentment for my wife who has no clue about money – and she is perfect in every way so i know this is my jealousy issue rather than anything she has done wrong). Sadly this is my quandary. This is the first time I had ever written to a blog of any sort so I am hopeful spending 30 minutes writing will enable me to,get at least a few more hours sleep before it all starts again…..

  • Heather

    So I got to this site by googling ‘I feel like I’m bad at my job’. If you can give me some feedback I would appreciate it. So here’s my story: I’ve been with my company for a little over 2 years . Within that time I have been promoted twice and am now an assistan manager.. 4 days in at this point. I got this position after just 9 months of being in my previous position. This is a very coveted job by all the sales reps in my company and there are people who have been trying to get hired for this for years. Naturally a lot of people resent me because I got the job so soon and I will be honest I am surprised too. I kept telling my last manager I didn’t feel ready to move up yet, but she kept insisting I was ready and constantly talked me up to my manager that just hired me. In fact he called me and asked me to interview. I threw together my presentation and didn’t show anyone before I showed him in my interview, and he loved it. I will say I’ve always been very good at presentations but it’s following through I’m having a problem with. There is still so much I don’t know and I feel really clueless and in over my head. And since I have very little experience and everyone knows it , I feel a lot of pressure to be great and stand out to show I deserve it. My new manager even told me ‘don’t let me down , you were my first manager I hired myself and I really pushed for you’ But my question is why? Why did he want me so bad ? And now I am trying to do my best but the truth is I don’t know half of the questions my employees come to me with and I end the day feeling like a huge failure. I don’t know how to overcome this , I am trying my best to keep my chin up and learn everything as fast as I can . Like I said I’m only 4 days into it , but I already feel myself starting to panic and tear myself down . I don’t want to start feeling like ‘ I just can’t do this’ because I know myself and I will shut down and completely make it worse. I just need to know what to do to stop feeling like my manager made a huge mistake and everyone is right that I don’t deserve this job . Thanks if you have any advice .

  • Ellen

    Well, I have not had to job search since 1999. I worked in a doctor’s office for 12 years and was offered another job a few months before before the doctor retired. I had also worked for this second doctor for many years before, so I was familiar with the setting.

    THEN, last July, that doctor retired. I was out of work until this March, when I was offered a position an hour away, and in a hospital. I have never worked in a hospital before and although I have a computer at home, this job involves extremely detailed, step-by-step appointment bookings. I am in an office with 4 others who have worked for years together and are like family, They know their job inside out. I am expected to fill in when they go on holidays over the summer. I am only part-time, which means I have to learn 4 different procedures in a very short time. I don’t think I can do this.

    They are in their late 20’s and 30’s. I am 55. To say I feel stupid is putting it mildly. I have had a few melt-downs at home. I feel very badly for what I am puuting my husband through, as he got a job in that city the same week I did. We are both under a pile of stress. I have never had to rely on my faith like I have had to in the last few months. But, I am terrified, to say the least!!

    I really pray for “the peace that passes all understanding” Thanks for lending an ear.

  • Lindsay

    I feel really dumb at work when my employer does not give me clear instructions then expects me to do a certain task the way they want. I feel somewhat paralyzed because I feel the pressure of getting the task done the way they want; yet I don’t know how to do it the way they want. I find that employers will sometimes give me instructions hurriedly and absent mindedly while they are taking care of something else at the same time and they do not take the sufficient time to clearly express their expectations. As a result I freeze up and it triggers a sense of anxiety. Also, if an employer is stressed out, negative or passive aggressive it makes me feel uneasy. I want so badly to please and I work hard to do what I’m told but I hate attempting to do a task well if I know my employer will find fault with whatever I’ve done as a result of miscommunication or poor instruction.

    • I feel the same as Lindsay! I found this site by Googling “how not to be stupid at work”. I started my current position 7 months ago and I really like everyone there and I like the job, but my boss has changed processes alot from what the previous person had to do. I’m finding it very hard to keep up with the new changes from how I was trained to do things. I usually can figure things out if I have examples to use and can reason out how something needs to be… but that’s really difficult when there’s no example and my boss acts like I should have known (or makes me feel that way). I REALLY want to be awesome at this job and be useful instead of feeling like the weakest link that can’t accomplish “simple” things.

      While one of my strengths is wanting to help people, I think it’s totally hurting me right now because I end up taking on more than I can handle and then things are get ting lost in the shuffle, ie “stupid mistakes”. Once they are pointed out, I have the hand-to-the-forehead reaction: HOW HOW HOW did I forget something so important?? Sigh. I’m trying to work through each one and use them as learning experiences, but I’m terrified that my new boss is going to focus on everything I can’t do right and decide to fire me. My old boss of 7 years was a total emotional rollercoaster and I’ve gotten so used to being screamed at, even for things I didn’t do, that I make myself sick over any mistake (which is why I left that job). It was so stressful, that now I go through the day expecting my new boss to react the same way. Also, I’ve never been good at pointing out my accomplishments or taking credit for things. My stubborn nature feels that if I just do a good job, people will notice- which isn’t always the case for upper management.

      I’ve spent all week feeling like I’m in the doghouse- in fact, I’m expect a reprimand from my boss tomorrow (there wasn’t time today, but another employee said it was coming). This one is deserved, since I agreed to help that employee notify the office staff about important information and forgot…but it wasn’t from me being lazy or not wanting to help, so my gut is balking at taking criticism. It’s kind of helping to read all of these comments from obviously intelligent people that feel the same way. Thanks!

      • Lynn

        I can absolutely relate to so many of you! And quite frankly, I’m relieved to have found this page. I quit a job last year for many reasons. Mostly, I didn’t like what I was doing and it was a bad fit for me. I had tried to move into a career path in which I was more interested and felt more competent, but it eventually became clear that management had no intentions of letting that happen. And in fact, it was made clear that they didn’t think I was all that competent in that area. Ouch. I had received good reviews by previous supervisors, so I kept telling myself that everyone has an opinion, and perhaps this was just a bad fit.

        But by far the most frustrating part of the job was the lack of clear instruction. I would put in overtime and do my very best only to find out how I “should” have done it. I grew so tired of the looks from one of my supervisors (the “how-can-you-not-read-my-mind” look). But I would go back and redo everything the way he wanted it done. I started pushing harder to get more details for everything I was assigned, but that only led to more frustration because they didn’t have the time to “babysit” me. It was exhausting. And after several years I began to think I can’t possibly be wrong all the time. occasionally I have to slip up and do something right. I eventually stopped putting much effort into anything because I knew I’d have to redo it anyway. But knowing I was not doing my best left me feeling unfulfilled and even worse about myself.

        So last year I quit and found a job in an area I am much more interested in. It was terrifying, but I knew I couldn’t keep doing what I had been doing. I love what I’m doing now, but it is a new field for me, and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t feel stupid at work. If I get even the slightest look of disappointment from my new boss, I panic. I immediately think she’s going to realize she made a mistake in hiring me and let me go. But I worked at my last job for many years, and I often joke that I’m still in recovery. 🙂 There was a lot of yelling and general unprofessionalism at my last job, and even if it wasn’t always directed at me, I lived in constant fear of when it would be.

        I’ve always had this fear of failing, and as a result I have pushed myself very hard. I kept thinking if I get one more degree, then maybe I’ll feel smart? So here I am with a PhD in engineering, and I still find myself feeling dumb. Why is that? Why are we so hard on ourselves? I once read that if we said to other people half the things we say to ourselves, they would probably punch us! Very true. Although I like my current job, I’m in an environment where I don’t get a lot of feedback, which is hard for me. If I’m not getting regular feedback, I start to imagine the worst. But for now I keep telling myself that no news is good news, and if I were performing as poorly as I think I am, surely I would have been pulled aside by now…

        But I must say there is an unbelievable difference between feeling uncertain in a job you hate and feeling uncertain in a job you like. Instead of sleepless nights followed by panic attacks on the way to work every morning, I now rebound from my occasional panic attacks and moments of self doubt much more quickly. I feel like I have a reason to keep trying and keep growing. I sometimes wonder if anyone ever feels truly successful at what they do? Perhaps the people that I look up to as being superstars at their jobs worry as much as I do about measuring up? I think we all have that little voice that cuts us down, maybe some people are better at ignoring it than others?

        I’ve also been focusing on overcoming my need for constant approval. It’s not realistic to have regular mentoring in today’s fast paced world, and the fact is, I am worth more than my job. So even if this career change doesn’t pan out and I am eventually let go, I am still a valuable person. I don’t quite believe that yet, but I’m working on it…. 🙂

  • Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.

    When I look at your blog in Firefox, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has

    some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!

    Other then that, great blog!

  • well i feel stupid because i work menial labor jobs and the bosses running the show treat me like im their bitch/slave. right now i am working at lonestar washing dishes, taking out trash, cleaning bathrooms, food prep, mopping entire restaurant, sweeping the parking lot , making salads and if i get done with all that they want me to do fry station too!! im making $8.50 for crying out loud and they dont bother training. they wont train me to do fry station they just tell me to do it. they trained me 2 days for making salads and desserts. 2 damn days to learn 8 salads and 5 deserts and basically make 75 orders that come up in a span of 2 minutes. i have 7 servers yelling at me and then i get the bosses yelling at me. i hate how this country is working people for nothing and nobody changes this. nobody defends the people at the very bottom. my dickhead boss worked me like a dog yesterday and then said that i needed to help with salads. so i go help but im not smiling and he starts talking to me and this other guy about how i as an employee “dont mind helping out” well the other guy says ” i dont think he is listening to you” and he replies ” well at least i can have an INTELLIGENT conversation when im talking to myself” i wanted to punch the shit out of him.

  • Well I seem to never do anything right and my boss constantly makes fun of me behind my back mostly I catch him making jokes in front of my face about things i bring up like my potential surgery and he said how about a lobotomy too. Everyone laughs and I smile but i know he is joking in my face. I try so hard to do a good job and feel less encouraged and try praying and everything to maintain a positive attitude but it is wearing on me to the point I have constant anger for him. I will even make little jokes to see how he reacts and the guy does not like me. I need help, i have resorted to looking for a new job but is is scarce out there. Please keep me in prayer but i have been thinking about confronting him? Thoughts. opinions??

  • Ann

    I have recently taken early retirement at my place of work but still do 20 hours there but cos of this they moved me from the team I had worked in for years to another !! Saying they couldn’t accommodate part timer hence I am very new to the work this team does and find it very difficult to fit in and understand the work making me feel very Stupid!! and as I only now do 20 hrs its difficult to get any continuity.

  • Ayo

    I feel really stupid on a daily basis. It’s difficult to admit this but after reading some of the posts on this website it has given me the encouragement I think I need. I currently work for a defence contractor which i started about 5 months ago however during this time I have been moved from one to program where I was hired for and suppose to be the lead to another where I am one of three. Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t a ego thing, but to be transfered relatively soon and also to be told that it would be best if I started with a team that had all there beds in a row isn’t something that i envisioned. I had heard comments about me from folks, things like am not up to the job and also that look from my manager and supervisor. Am actually fearful that I might be getting fired soon or at least out on a probationary review that could lead to termination. Now a friend of mine who still works here help me get this job and i don’t want to embrass him because he is pretty high up in the building.

    During the three months my supervisor sat with me to help me learn the job however I never understood the whole but just assumed that I would pick it up as time goes on. However over the course of weeks it seem like she was not happy with my performance and also heard complaints from others within the team. Now I know am not dumb and capable of some intelligence however I don’t understand why it’s taking me a long time to fully grasp the job. I understand the concept but I just nervous and anxious whenever am given a task which ends up taking me forever to do and sometimes not do at all. Am not sure if am making sense but that’s how I feel. I can’t seem to be able to stay focused, concentrate on a particular task for a long time. And I get bored really quickly.

    Please help me, because I don’t know what to do. I really wish there was pill or something that I can take to help resolve this issue. It is affecting not just my professional life but also my personal life because am constantly worried that I will be fired. Sad to think just less than 6 months ago I was very help when I got this job

  • I recently started a job and I’ve only been there for about a month but I feel like a total idiot. I feel like I’m constantly making mistakes and falling short of where I should be. I don’t want my co-workers to think that I’m incompetent and not be able to trust me to do things. This job is very busy and stressful and I’m doing my best. Some days I come home on top of the world and others I am nearly in tears thinking about how poorly I am doing. I don’t know if I’m just forgetting things or if I’m rushing and it’s causing me to make mistakes. I just want to do a good job. I just want to be a good employee.

  • S

    I’m on this blog today because I really feel so stupid at work. I was asked to participate in a quality assurance test for online product that’s been in development for a very long time. I normally take my time to read these special instructions before proceeding. Not this time! Foolishly, I just skimmed through the instructions, thinking the rest of those instructions wouldn’t be very important or relevant. Boy, was I wrong. I didn’t read and pay attention to many important points in those instructions, and I botched up the process. Horribly. A few of my peers made some sarcastic replies to my comments, and I feel so awkward, stupid, out of place. It’s taken me a very long time to get to where I am now at my company, so looking stupid is the last thing that I want and need. Hey, we all F–k up. We have our moments. I can’t afford for this to ever happen again.

  • elizabeth

    I have never had trouble communicating with others. In fact, I’ve been hailed as a fantastic communicator. It’s how I make my living! I am the Director of Marketing and Communications at my organization, as well as being a graphic designer, writer and editor. But over the course of the year and three months I’ve been with the organization, the Executive Director has absolutely eviscerated my confidence and self-esteem. It’s gotten to the point that I have become extremely anxious in meetings and dread speaking. I am always an active participant and collaborator. In fact, I normally *lead* discussions and meetings. At first, I held back a bit because I was new to the team and wanted to observe in order to understand the group dynamics (there are only 6 other co-workers), as well as understand the business, itself. I came from a healthcare background and was learning a completely new industry model. At any rate, my self-confidence has plummeted. The environment is so toxic (I realize that word seems overused, but I can’t think of a more accurate description), that I have developed physical reactions, as well. I can’t sleep, I’ve gained a tremendous amount of weight, and what amounts to what I can only call an “intellectual stutter” where I can’t seem to string two sentences together for fear of being belittled. My husband has been unemployed for nearly five years and so I’m the sole breadwinner, but I honestly don’t think I can continue. I feel stupid, inarticulate and decimated. What have always been my strengths — my ability to create, to express myself, to share and collaborate with others — have been crushed. I doubt my ability to do anything, in any position.

  • Joy

    Im a young black female in the private banking environment in South Africa. I deal with rich clients, who many of whom, together with my colleagues, feel I dont deserve this job. Many do and are kind and receptive towards my advie and knowledge. Others demonstrate very clearly that they do not care for what you have to say and will consult someone superior to you as you can possibly have a solution for them. I’m in a car crying as a colleague who approves my deals has once again touched that soft spot of intelectual insecurity. She is very skilled at making people feel dumb and worthless. My concious mind tells me she is a woman in pain, this behaviour has nothing to do with me. But something within me is in pain every time she criticises my work, no matter how hard I try to get it right. She exaggerates small and understandable mistakes and clearly enjoys putting others down and making them feel stupid. She sure is good at it, look at me here, in this car, crying because of how she has made me feel. I will go home and have a glass of wine and spend time with my family till I forget. But tomorrow, I know she’s waiting, seemingly planning a new way to make me feel stupid. Again I will cry. i know I need to react differently but I dont have the tools to prevent this behaviour from affecting me so severely. Please assist.

  • Shannon

    I dont assume anything and because of that I ask a lot of questions and clafiry. I keep getting this” well you got a copy of the email” or ” we told you already” I look back and the email is extremely vague or the person that said they did it, left out an important part or wasnt clear about what was or wasnt actually done. I am tired of feeling like the stupid one for double checking. I feel like other people function well enough but it scares me to assume, because so many times, it has bitten me back. I will invest the time to do a report or a topic discussion and the requestor has quite often, left out key information or just made assumptions that I already knew something I didnt….its driving me nuts because I feel like it keeps making me look bad but what am I supposed to do? Not ask?

    My coworker made a mistake because he was in a hurry but refused to take responsibility for it and made it appear as if I flubbed it. I had a happy environment when I first got here but one person doesnt seem to like me and now I am getting frozen out. I wish people could just do thier job and not always look for ways to hurt other people or make them look bad.

  • Jean

    I think this is the second time I’ve visited this site, but my first time leaving a comment. I’ve read through a lot of comments and I’m glad to say I feel less alone and stupid. I’m a new civil EIT at my company and I work with wonderful people except my manager who is a bit intimidating. I recently felt stupid when I submitted my first analysis for review and received lots of revision comments. Some which made it seem I was careless in my work. Now I realize the manager did not train me on how he would like me to do the work. I had to rely on my coworker to train me, so there is no way I could have done it the way the manager wanted since he didn’t tell me his expectations. So since it is my first analysis it’s no biggie and I’m trying not to stress over it. It’s only my first month on the job but I was an intern for 4 months last summer doing different work. Luckily I have a great personality and fit with the work culture its just getting up to speed which will be the toughest part. I graduated with honors so I know I should be intelligent I just need to believe it. Good luck everyone who is feeling stupid. You are not alone and there is more to life than a job.

  • Zoe

    I get nervous around my boss and always feel like I have to prove myself, I’m 16 and this is my first job and sometimes I do things without thinking because I’m thinking about other things and my boss just rolls his eyes at me and makes me feel like I can’t do anything right. I know I’m not a stupid person and when I’m relaxed everything’s fine but I just can’t seem to stop doing stupid things.

  • kylefoxtrot

    Excellent article!! Its almost as if it was written for me. And the comment about people with certain traits possibly working in the wrong field is dead on. As an Iraq war vet I moved thru the ranks rather fast, not a water walker, but probably an above average service member. A national honor student. What I’m getting at is, on paper it would seem that I should be confident in my abilities…but that’s not the case. I’m a tradesman now and have been for 5 years. At my current workplace, politics and nepotism are the norm…it’s unreal, but a good job nonetheless. Every certification I’ve tested out for I’ve attained without difficulty. Yet I still feel incredibly inferior. Part of the reason for this feeling is probably due to the fact that unless you are connected, you are completely kept out of the loop. Despite all of this, it’s come to my attention that I’m being considered for a promotion. That should be a good thing, but I can feel my confidence on the possible job waning my the minute. I feel that if I get the job my shortcomings will be exposed, yet every other person seems to think I’d be a good candidate for this position. What’s also ironic is, they say there is no such thong as a stupid question, and I’m not shy whatsoever to ask questions, pick someone’s brain who is more knowledgable than I, but most of the time when you ask a question you are looked at like an idiot.

  • Helen

    I have recently started a new job as a medical receptionist after 8 years off raising my son I was very excited to start as it would mean more opportunities for myself and son, the first few days were good learning the ropes but entering my third day I was asked to cover a shift during the day which I knew would be completely different from night but I accepted and I hated it the people I worked with seemed liked they were annoyed at my questions and my need for help it seemed like everything went straight over my head I just need to know if what is happening because I expect so much from myself and if this expectation to learn everything in 2.0 seconds is wishful thinking and should I just cut myself some slack

  • sahanabhat

    Realized I am not alone in this one.. I feel like I have become incompetent over the years or rather one of my new bosses makes me feel like my input is not needed at all. It just feels sad. I am the only girl in the team of 15 guys. I don’t know if it is because of that they make me feel like I am not needed.

    I don’t know how to get out of this and I feel like I won’t even be able to find a good job. This is just a rant. I know I am glad to be having a job and to have reached this level , but I feel I could do something.. I really want to switch jobs and learn new things.

    I don’t know how easy is it going to be.

  • lauren

    Bingo- Google search leads me here. I am a 22 year-old intern at a large food service company, hoping to do well and maybe land a job from this. Recently, however, I have been feeling like I have been making way too many mistakes a work, aka, stupidity. I don’t want to use the intern excuse, or any excuse for that matter. I have been working at this company for 5 months now, and there are still things that i don’t understand or can’t wrap my head around. I feel very frustrated because some of the things are still a learning game for me, yet some things should be second nature but they are not. My supervisor is probably one of the smartest people i have ever worked with, which makes me feel intimidated and dumb sometimes. Everything from email mistakes to bigger mistakes like not completely checking a document has gotten me in trouble, yet i find myself so worried about getting things right that maybe i am not as diligent as i should be. Glad to see I am not alone here, i just wish i could do things right so they can see I am an asset to the team.

  • realidiot

    I Googled “sometimes I feel like an idiot”

    I know I’m not good at my job. My manager keeps telling me I’m doing good work, but he’s wrong. He has the same qualifications as I do, but he’s four years younger. I’m 35. Other guys are 10 years younger but they have moved up in the world, while I’m still stuck on a junior level. I’m an electrical engineer, but I still don’t understand how a electrical motor works. I just don’t get it. Maybe they think I’m clever because I don’t ask questions, but the truth is I don’t even know what to ask. I miss deadlines, I have no idea how to do any kind of admin work, and I don’t know how to plan my work. Other guys start here with zero experience and within a week they’re talking about invoicing, cash flow, fault currents, and all kinds of technical shit that means exactly nothing to me. It feels like people are born knowing how to do shit, except me.

    Technology freaks me out. I have a very basic cellphone, because it’s all I need. The company gave me an iPhone to use for work, and I’m totally stumped. I know how to do the basics with it, like make phonecalls, but any “smart” features are just beyond me. I don’t even understand what to use if for. I fail to see the difference between the smartphone and my dumb phone, just like I fail at everything else

  • Likewise

    This is my 8th week of a new job… I started at the beginning of a financial busy season (a mini one compared to my previous jobs). My boss is not a great teacher, but I am good at figuring things out on my own so I’ve managed to learn a lot without many structured training sessions. I’ve learned that my boss was overwhelmed before I was hired, so he had no real choice but to drop this busy season project in my lap.

    I love the challenge, but my boss gets moody (especially around a few losses that need to be adjusted for) and he takes it out on me. Six weeks in, right before a major deadline, he nonchalantly called to catch up and find out what I was working on. When I told him that I was deep diving into some revenue items and I found things that need to be adjusted, he freaked out on me. Demanded to know why I hadn’t done it right the first time. In reality I had received three different spreadsheets showing three different numbers from three different sources. I had been too over loaded working 11 and 12 hour days on what had been expressed to be higher priority situations, so I hadn’t scheduled my own training session with the owners of these spreadsheets. I had just gotten to the point in my work flow to find out how the numbers relate and which I should use for our reporting purposes. I used my best judgement at the time with the tools I had available.

    Today he freaked out again. After the last deadline, he had to leave for a work trip and was silent for a week. During that week, I worked with another group to clean up review comments. Upon return, the boss asked me to walk him through some changes he noticed. When I got to his office I was speechless at the file he showed me because the numbers were waaay off and my heart sank because I know I triple checked them. He lectured me for 10 minutes on the importance of accuracy and that I should tell him when something needs to be changed (even though I have several emailed questions that he claims he’ll reply to “today”, everyday). Then after his rant and my trivial attempts to defend my competence, he continued on explaining how he found the major change in the first place.

    He showed me the revenue reduction that he wanted to make. Turns out that he had adjusted the number before I came into his office and FORGOT, so the numbers were waaay off from what I was expecting because he changed it. He felt better after realizing the cause of the error (since I had been previously speechless as to what happened) and continued on reasonably. But I had just sat through a lecture and just wanted to cry. So did I mess up? All I know is that I feel horrible, I’d feel the same if I hadn’t tried and put in all this effort. What is it all for and why am I doing this to myself? I don’t even know anymore.

    He’s not trained as an accountant like I am, so while I’m used to getting constructive review comments that double as learning experiences, he demands perfection without having to do more than explain a few things once in a while.

    I feel like the numbers aren’t telling the story he wants them to, so he is paranoid that additional errors will make it look worse. So he takes it out on me.

    Everyone else I work with is wonderful. They are helpful, friendly, and have happy and encouraging things to say about me and my work on all the other tasks I have started to manage, but my boss just bullies me to the point where I feel stupid at work.

  • Newgrad

    I’m not very detail oriented and often miss what my supervisor says. I work very closely with her and I take orders directly from her. I’m feeling stupid today after I did something right; and she commented that she was glad that she told me something and I remember. I don’t think I’m competent anymore. I am a new grad and I’m working in the position of what I’ve studied for, and in a company that I love. I thought I was a good fit for the job until today and I just feel that being a new grad doesn’t make up the excuse for what’s happening now anymore.

    I know that doing is better than saying, but I’m so scared what if she’d have that impression stuck with her for forever, she’d never trust me with work anymore.

  • CAnnon

    I’ve had a crappy few days at work, I keep feeling horrendously incompetent. I came home after a few tears in the car and googled “why am I so rubbish at my job” and ended up here. I’m supposedly an intelligent person, I’m a 24 years old University graduate (with 1st Class Hons) in psychology, I tried to get in to my trained field for 2 years doing different loosely related jobs applying for jobs I never got, even though my feed back was always really positive, apparently I come across as “likeable and charming”. I had a job at an Estate Agent which didn’t work out now I work in an offshore finance administration job with corporate real estate. Generally I work with really nice supportive people, but I feel like such a dick sometimes with the silly mistakes I make; I have the knowledge for certain things when I draft them out (they get checked before I send them because Im a trainee) and I’ll have gotten it wrong in one way or another. I understand nobody is perfect but it’s all the time about things I should and do know and it’s always on really basic stuff. When it happens someone points it out and I feel so stupid that I’ve let it happen and I just feel like I annoy everyone, but they are all so nice about it, which in a way makes it harder because I feel like Im letting them down (or they are all really 2 faced?). I feel like my day is filled with “argh I knew that, I’m sorry”. Im supposed to be intelligent why can’t I do the basic stuff??? It doesn’t help that the most senior management clearly has no time for me or my incompetence (she’s not meant to be supporting me, thats ‘Bob’s’ role). She never communicates with me, but she does with everyone else, each time I speak to her I feel like I’m pissing her off even if it’s chasing her for something she’s meant to sign off (I think 3 days for a couple of signatures is a bit of a pisstake). I’m always polite, willing, enthusiastic I do have a good contentious attitude towards my work and generally have good people skills (particularly with colleagues and clients). So why does she hate me?? I just want to be good and people to know they can rely on me!! 🙁

  • So_nerdy

    Google lead me hear as well; I’m not sure if you’re still reading these, but it seems as good a place as any to bring this up.

    I’m a 29-year-old working on television and commercial production. I started a new job about a month ago, and while I started off on OK footing, I feel like that last three weeks I have left a horrible impression. My role is to work closely with a producer; we are to communicate and effectively create a workflow. However, since Day 1 I’ve had trouble with this producer, and my best days happen when she’s too busy to get involved and I’m allowed to handle to workflow to the artists myself. She is suffering from some health problems that affect her ability to focus on top of extreme sleep deprivation, and it makes communicating with her laborious. We tend to have long circuitous conversations that end up right where we started, yet she thinks she has answered my question. I then have to push again for an answer, which frustrates her and makes her feel like I’m not listening. This has left the impression that I am not a good listener, and I’ve seen her alter her behavior in accordance. She constantly tells me basic, entry-level advice as if I am incredibly green, and I smile and thank her for the input.

    At the end of last week I made a series of bumbling mistakes, which I fully own as fuckups on my end. I didn’t fully understand a task and decided to wing it; I should’ve pushed harder for her to clarify but just didn’t want to get into another roundabout conversation that ended with her thinking I am an idiot who just doesn’t Get It. This was of course the worst decision, because by messing up I have much further ingrained the idea that I don’t know what I’m doing.

    The issue is, despite this woman’s failing health and inability to communicate, she is my direct manager telling our greater boss about my progress. My boss came today and said we’ll have to sit down together and read through all the basic work guidelines together – that’s the level we’ve dropped down to. I don’t know any way to convince them that I am not an idiot; I’ve begun to feel hopeless as I’ve tried every tool in my toolbox for communicating clearly and effectively.

    I have a fellow co-worker who sees this happening and I go to for advice; she tells me to just let it roll off my back, but I find myself getting incredibly frustrated. I feel like it’s going to take months up into a year to overcome this impression, and this job already has 12-hr days 5-6 days a week. I don’t know if I can work myself to death just to get back to where I was.

  • I just started a new job as a server, and I honestly think that this job is very easy, and the restaurant I’m working at is a really great place to learn if you haven’t done this kind of work before. Customer service is my niche. I have worked in positions previously where I was very confident and knew I was good at these aspects of my job. I do believe that in my case, it is not a matter of being in the wrong field for my skills and abilities. I feel like I am just not learning this system and the proper procedures quickly enough, and it’s a strange feeling, because it is all so common sense and easy. I feel like I DO understand, but somehow, for some reason, I’m still not getting it completely right. I KNOW I can do this, I feel it in me that I have what it takes to be a worthy contributing member of this team, who is just as knowledgeable as the rest of them. I have done it before. But I feel slow, like I am not learning as quickly as I need to.

    Today I worked my fifth shift, and although I feel I have been showing consistent improvement, I do not think I am performing as well as I should be. I am having trouble with my cash outs, especially. There are just so many things to remember – press that button, then this one, then that one and then do this, and you will need one of these and two of these and you count these numbers and put the totals here, circle this and circle that and and make sure that they are the same numbers as these ones. I get the concept – make sure your sales all add up and everything balances. But I have never worked in a position where I needed to do cash outs like this before, so it is new to me, and I am not sure how long it typically takes people get it. I imagine it usually takes less than five shifts, though. I think they expected me to get it by the second shift. I know it’s just a matter of remembering steps and counting, but I am feeling stupid. I thought I could do it, but I just looked at all my papers today and drew a complete blank. I needed to ask for help again, and I know I shouldn’t have. I wanted to cry because I know the fact of the matter is that it’s a really easy task and I feel like such a retard for not getting it after this long.

    I came home today feeling really bad. I have been really stressing out, and even getting cold sores. I am loving this job, and I don’t want to lose it. I will become really depressed because I know this job is easy and it’s such an awesome place to work. It’s what I WANT to do. If I can’t cut it, there’s a problem with myself. Maybe I have a learning disability. I know that everyone is different and everyone has different learning styles and different strengths and weaknesses.. Maybe I am a slow learner, but at least I have the confidence that I can learn it, and once I have learned it, I am not going to un-learn it. It’s just going to take some time, and I really hope it doesn’t take too long. I know it’s irritating to be asked the same questions and have to explain the same things over and over again when someone doesn’t fully understand. But I also know I could be really good at this. I am just missing something, and I’m not quite sure what it is.

  • I am a devoted hard working employee, but my problem is that I don’t believe in myself, I don’t catch on to things quickly especially computers. I will think I have It then I get confused and start messing up. My coworker will show me how to do something then I forget what she said and when I ask again I can tell shes frustrated with me because I didn’t get it. She knows everything about the new system and I am a lot older and just don’t get it. I try my hardest and get so frustrated because my brain just doesn’t absorb things like I wish it did. I love my job but I get so jealous sometimes because she is always the one my employer goes to when she needs to know something or wants something done. I just feel like she has no faith in me because of my ignorance with modern technology, I went back to school at 49 because of a divorce and have been trying my hardest, but I didn’t grow up with all this stuff and some of it seems foreign to me, I just feel left out because everyone else gets it and I don’t . just makes me feel like im the oddball of the office.

  • DessertScience

    I am going to school for professional baking/biotechnology (yes weird combination I am told), and most recently was hired as an intern at a small local bakery. I can use these skills I learned at school in a workplace that is a little slow paced so I can pick up easily with less stress. After two months(3 days a week @ 3 hrs a day) she let me go saying she needed a stronger candidate, but I never really got the chance to prove myself besides prepping her plates. I did make a few mistakes here and there with decorating(I already told her this was not my strong point), but by the end of the day I would get it and go on. I was always enthusiastic at work, friendly with employees, and worked hard and quickly to finish tasks to be as efficient as possible. In the beginning she seemed as if I would get a job out of this, but in the end it sounded like I did a horrible job? If so why was I not informed of the job I was doing in a professional manner? Did she think I was stupid, and did not pick things up quickly enough?

    I was shocked to learn I would not work anymore under her, and as an intern no less, a job where you’re supposed to learn. What did I do that was so wrong? I’m still upset because this just happened today, but I just feel like an idiot and I’m trying to find what I did so wrong to be let go…

    I’ve worked before so it’s not like it’s my first rodeo, but it’s the first time working at a place I really loved to work at. I do have another job lined up as an assistant bread baker in a couple of weeks(no decorating, yay), but this has shot my self-confidence down tremendously. I don’t want to go in thinking that I’m completely incompetent…auuugh so confused on life

    • Rachel

      I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I think your employer did not handle this well at all. My advice to you would be to contact her again, when you’re a bit less emotional, and ask her for specifics about your performance. Be professional. Tell her you are unclear about her reasons for letting you go and that, as a new professional in your chosen field, you’d appreciate her honest feedback. Thank her for her time and you’re more likely to get constructive criticism that will help you in the future and not an emotional rant. We all make mistakes, especially when we are learning, and there are plenty of people that can’t see past the lack of experience and project all sorts of character flaws onto what amounts to a need for more learning (remember this if she says a bunch of bs about your character that you know is not true, listen if you’ve heard the same from others). As a teacher, I’ve seen TONS of kids and young adults blossom from the student who got the lowest grades in the class to the one that was helping others understand. Your employer is not the one to take you on this journey and you will most likely end up SO GRATEFUL that she let you go. I’ve been “dumped” before, too, and looking back I have not one bit of sadness or regret about these experiences. Good luck and don’t give up!

    • Samara

      Dear DessertScience

      I know you think that if you think hard enough about this, go over everything you said, did, did not do perfectly, etc etc in your mind, and try and work through the emotional muddle that this episode has plunked you in, you will come up with the answer to why this woman did this and what she really meant by “stronger candidate. I used to think the same. However, I have now worked for nearly thirty years and, having also worked in resourcing, realise that many people are not let go because they have not performed their job well. People make decisions on an emotional basis far more than an objective one, but cover it up with corporate speak words like “strong candidate”. If you felt you did a good job, let that be the decider on how you think about this job. It is always the best indicator. This especially applies if the people that hired you as an intern have not spoken to you on areas they felt you need to work on. If you had been truly terrible in any area, they would have included specific examples when letting you go. At this point you probably feel that they so absolutely lost faith in you that they didn’t even bother with advice, just wanted to get rid of you. However, you must remember that you are an intelligent and skilled worker, and were learning on the job. Frankly I think they have somebody else they wish to place in the role. Perhaps a relative. Move on from this immature management and look forward to your new role. Shake the dust from your feet of this old workplace, and do not internalize their words. There will be more workplaces that will inflict damage like this in your lifetime. Business/corporations are fully of people – and people are broken.

  • SoCal Mex Gal

    I don’t know if you’re still reading these or doing this project, but today I had a terrible day at work. I’ve been there for about a month, it’s a shoe store in the mall and I just cannot figure out the cash register. Yes, they’ve shown me tons of times, but there’s many steps that I get confused and I somehow can’t remember. I don’t deal with cash, I get a supervisor/manager to handle it. But with debit/credit cards, I just can’t remember and it’s confusing to me. I know I should know by now, which makes me feel even MORE stupid, but I just can’t get the hang of it. It’s so embarrassing and I can tell my coworkers and managers are so annoyed and it’s effecting my work. I was working with Two of my managers and the one who hired me told me i need to get more comfortable with it cu its effecting my work. it sucked and it was so embarrassing… Everything else is good but the register. I feel so so stupid. The minute I walked out after I clocked out I started crying.. Not balling, but tears.. I’m trying my best, I am I’m trying so hard but I just can’t figure it out.

    • k.a

      Hey, I know EXACTLY how you feel. In fact, I am in a situation somewhat similar. I just started working for this company called Sykes. It is a customer service place. Ive been there for over a month and I’m in training class with about 20 other workers. My trainer is a bit harsh and she is harder on me than everyone else. She’s always putting me on the spot and calling me out in front of the rest of the training class. Sometimes we are in the class and other times they will put us out on the floor to take calls. and now they have started recording some of our calls. So tonight my trainer pulls some of the calls and lets the whole class listen and then grade each other on how we did individually on the calls. She pulled mine first to let the class listen and I didn’t do very well on my call at all… My trainer yelled at me in front of everyone, and pretty much told me how horrible I did. It was embarrassing because the whole class just sat there and stared at me while she was yelling and telling me that if I didn’t straighten up I would get fired. Most of them laughed and others just sat there looking at me like I am so dumb and never going to get it. out of all of the calls we listened to that night, I was the only one that did bad. It made me feel even more dumb, because I’m not catching on like everyone else is, and when my trainer is yelling at me and reminding me how stupid I am it only makes me feel even worse. I was so ashamed, when it was our break time I went to the bathroom and cried……I know a 21 year old shouldn’t be crying like a big baby but I couldn’t help myself…I felt like a failure and everyone thinks I am stupid and not going to learn. when I walked back into the class I knew some of them were talking about me because everyone got quiet when I came back in and they just looked at me. I feel depressed every night when I go home and every afternoon when I have to go back in and endure all of this all over again….The only reason why I am sticking with this job is because I need the money, but if I get fired that will be just fine with me, I shouldn’t have to go through this anyway…. and you shouldn’t either. just hang in there as long as you can. and tough it out (:

      • SoCal Mex Gal

        I’m so so sorry about what you’re experiencing… It sucks doesn’t it?? It’s embarrassing because I’m not some young 16 year old that’s just not mature enough… I’m flippin 23 years old. I know you’re 21 and I’m 23, you’d think we’d get the hang of things right?? I guess not :/ this job I have is just seasonal and it’s minimum, I haven’t had a job since I was 20 and I just wanted to get anything, and I know this is my last month, and the money’s not even good but I just wanna show others n mostly myself that YES, I can do it and even though I’m not gonna stay, I did the job well and right. If I do get fired earlier than I should, I know in my mind and heart that I tried my very best. I don’t slack off, I try my best. To remember the steps but Idk what’s going on with me but I just don’t get it. I can’t remember all the steps. One of the managers is always rolling her eyes when I ask a question or gives the other manager an annoyed look. Or she looks at me n answers me like I’m stupid. I want this to be on y resume also, even though its just seasonal, I want another job on my résumé, to show that I have skill n have some sales skills. I’m so sorry about your boss, that’s wrong of them to just single you out. And yes I is frustrating for our managers that were not doing well? Or not getting it, but sheesh they don’t needa treat you like you’re a stupid idiot, cuz you’re not. I work tomorrow morning n my manager said that the first half of my shift ill be on register so I can get more comfortable. Ima try my best but if I somehow STILL don’t get it, (that’s probably gonna be the case) then at the end of my shift ima talk to one of the nicer managers that trained me my first day. And tell her that “obviously I’m bringing down sales and bringing down everyone else working here, and for some annoying and frustrating reason, Im just not understanding it and idk where to go from here. I don’t wanna bring sales or people down, n it hurts that I’m still not getting it, so idk what to do.” It’s the truth, it sucks and I dwell on it even on my days off. I just don’t know where to go from here. I know I won’t get hired on cuz it was seasonal, but the time I do have I’m obviously struggling. You n me are cryers haha, I’m glad I’m not the only one who cries when struggling or embarrassed or feels defeated. I hope things at better for you n we’re trying our very best and we know that in our hearts, we just gotta stay true to ourselves. Don’t give up, but don’t take crap from a bully or someone who embarrasses you on purpose or too much. You’re better than that and they have something wrong with them. So do your stupid co workers, you’re better than all of them and don’t let anyone make you feel less than. Keep me updated girl!

      • Alice

        And we all sit back and accept this abuse!? Where’s the line?

  • k.a

    yea, I absolutely understand how you are feeling about keeping sales down and your other coworkers down….my trainer told me because I am not doing my job correctly it is affecting my other teammates job performance. and I don’t want that at all… I really try my hardest and want to learn, but my trainer is basically fed up with me. she is going to sit beside me and listen in to my calls for about an hour and a half Monday due to what happen last night. But I’m just going to try my best and whatever happens happens. Hope you keep me updated as well, Things may get better for us who knows….

    • Jenn

      Well, I feel stupid at work at times because of how my manager and assistant manager comes across when I asks certain questions. Either they’ll answer me in a way like I’m retarded or make comments like calling me a blond or comparing me to the new hires who are in training. When I first started out at my job it was obviously brand new to me, I’ve never worked in banking before so everything was a little foreign, unlike everyone else that worked there who had previous experience. It took me about 7 months to fully get into the swing of things, the basics I should say. There’s always something new to learn and even when you think you know it all you really don’t, because like the “humans” we are, we tend to forget. We have this manual that we can go to when we need answers to questions, which shows that we won’t know the answers to everything, but at times my manager makes me feel as if I’m just incompetent. It sucks because she makes me feel as if I should know everything all of the time. There are times when she may get stumped by a question and have to look up the answer to double check, but when it comes to me I feel like I can’t have any room for error. Every boss that I’ve had in the past was a male, this is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with a female as a boss. I think that females are more likely to criticize when it comes to working with another female and also jealousy comes into play most of the time. My boss is very judgmental and she doesn’t have patience. I will always make mistakes because I’m human but I try to keep them at a minimum. When she makes a mistake or the assistant manager, it kind of makes me feel good because it goes to show them that they’re not perfect. Humility is the best personality trait that anyone could ever have, I just wish my boss had it.

      I never said anything to them about how I feel, maybe I should. People will treat you how you let them, either they will stop or they won’t, but the least that I can do is stand up for myself. If nothing changes then maybe it’s not meant for me to be there in the first place. I’m non-confrontational and I wish I was.

      • Jenn

        ask* blonde*

  • Your point of reference in how we conduct our actions often changes our viewpoint. Sometimes this change is good and sometimes this alteration is bad but it is our paradigm that exerts the most control how we act.

  • holly

    Today I asked my boss “Do you have confidence that next year I can meet your expectations as a geophysicist”. He said “No. I don’t believe anyone can meet my expectations until they have done so”. But I want a boss who can say “Of course, I believe win you”. That is far more motivating than the “prove it mentality” of my small minded, disgruntled boss.

  • hayley

    Im feeling stupid today cos im being told ” r u still sleeping”? Or ” dont u knw this this happened? The thing is I sort of knw bt it didnt linked in my mind tht way. I didnt knw it will affect this n this. I hate it when ppl told me the above. I do knw bt I cant see hw they affect others. Another thing is, I knw wht I am doing bt when being asked wht have I done, I couldnt say it. Is there sumting wrong with me or my job is not suitable to me?

  • K

    So I’m reading these posts and yes I to do feel stupid! Every job I have had my employer calls me “stupid. You have a dark sole “and there is no guidance to right my wrong.

    You see I’m really struggling with this feeling stupid as I recently found out that I have a genetic disorder called agensis of the corpus callosum. It is the missing middle tissue of the brain that holds the left and right hemisphere together and the neurones connect.

    I’ve asked for help from a genetic doctor but I’ve yet to get information.

    • K

      I’m still reading these posts yet to get a reply. I’ve since then got a specific diagnose called non-syndromic familial agenisis of the corpus callusom. It is fairly rare.

      I’ve also am looking for work and will stand up for myself if my next boss calls me stupid.

  • littleM

    I feel stupid in my job at the moment. I work in IT and got involved in some projects that are small but I’m really out of my depth with them, just have gaps in my knowledge and experience to follow them through to the end. This happens a lot. Colleagues who have more experience than me have helped but often they just takeover so I don’t really learn anything or end up confused because they take a different approach that I don’t understand. Sometimes they mumble or give a fast talking response and I don’t understand, or misunderstand what they have just said. It’s not like I’m unwilling to learn, I volunteer for jobs that I think will help me learn a skill or area I’m weak on. Just had a thought as I’m writing – I could make a list of skills and knowledge where I’m weak, prioritise them on how critical they are to my job and concentrate on the most critical.

    The past few months have been bad though and I feel like I’ve taken too much on and had too many failures and mistakes. My next review is coming up – my boss was making noises about a pay rise a few months ago but I feel like the past few months has undone all my hard work, I’m dreading it now.

  • Deb

    I changed jobs two years ago so that I could work closer to home and telecommute. The pay and benefits were good, and I thought I’d be working with people more on my side of town so socializing would be easier. I’ve been in IT for thirty years in various positions, and have always poured myself into my job. I have a lot of experience with all aspects of IT, not just programming. I learn fast and can always take on a new application with little trouble. I work with people well, and my users always seemed happy with my response and support. I thought I was good at my job. Now I find myself mired in a large company with over 30 databases to support. I’ve had trouble acclimating to the rules and procedures, and have made programming mistakes. I’m trying to be more thorough and organized, but I still seem to mess up from time to time. It seems I’m not allowed to make mistakes. My boss doesn’t have much confidence in me, and gave me a “does not meet expectations” rating on my review. She told me we would meet the next week to set up goals for the coming year. I did not register that I was supposed to set up the meeting. I got caught up in a production issue, and forgot about the meeting. So I got slammed for not thinking it was important. I’m feeling very incompetent and stupid right now. I don’t know why I have selective hearing, or forgetfullness. Maybe it’s what my brain does under stress. I don’t know. I’m looking for another job. This just isn’t a good fit for me. I can’t relax and just do my job. I’m always worried about what I might have missed or forgotten. I’m the sole provider for my family, so I can’t afford to quit or get fired. I haven’t been this miserable in a long time.

  • Nancy

    I feel your pain Deb and others…. I’ve worked at this company for 15 years and all of a sudden there are new processes and systems…and I’m not grasping it all. Losing my job would cause me to lose everything….suicide is a better idea.

    • Deb

      It’s just a job….not worth suicide. I’m looking for a new job. I know I’m capable…just in the wrong place. I just have to be patient until I find the right one where I’ll feel comfortable and confident again. I’ve been through worse…just not for a while. There’s always a way if you look for it and ask for help when you need it. Sometimes we just need a push to get us moving.

  • Nina

    I work in a state agency which has now become a local university (bought by another University). I worked in the original medical facility & school (as a residency coordinator) I was brought in the office by my administrator (after lengthy problems with another employee who went as far as to try and implicate me as making derogatory comments) and I was told that the department that i worked for could no longer support me. Since I am in a union, I was in the “fortunate” position of being able to transfer into another position in another department which turned into a 40/60 deal where I work for a registrar and a student and alumni affairs department. The person with whom I work in the alumni affairs office is great however the person in the registrar’s office consistently talks to me in a childish manner she actually has said to me, If I were your mother…..” which is completely unbelievable. I used to run the office I was in and now I’m relegated to this position in which I’m completely at the will of this other “sadist”. Once when I was overwhelmed by something she said, I must have looked weary and another co-worker said, “oh her?” She does that to everyone. Well, I try to do my job and this is seemingly punching me in the gut constantly because of her craziness. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve worked for this company for 13 years and I just don’t want to walk away from this. The bigger issue is also that at my age (52) I don’t know how much more schooling I can get? I have just about completed my Associates (which anymore is a joke to anyone hiring) It is almost as if you “don’t count” if you don’t have a “master’s degree.”

    • goodmorning123

      t sounds like you’re dealing with a cantankerous individual who probably harbors some sort of insecurity. I have worked in some of the harshest and most ruthless working environments you could imagine in the private sector. Those that endeavor to purposely dislodge your effectiveness in the workplace or misrepresent your character, are actually the weakest and most afraid. It usually doesn’t take much to uncover their weakness. Do not be frightened of challenging this individual, whether you report to this person or not. For example, I might say: “Clarify your meaning, you stated that “if you were my mother…”, but did not complete your thought process”. “If you were my mother, what is it exactly, that you would do?” If this person insults you – document the event and store it. Over time, chronicle all of the evidence of this person’s unprofessional demeanor. Supplement it with specific other examples, no matter how minute, where they appear incompetent. When you find a strategically advantageous moment, bring this material to a sympathetic ear that has “pull” in the workplace. Damage this person’s credibility. Nobody will want to mess with you if it is executed correctly. There are many strategies you may employ that are more appropriate in your specific working environment, but never allow anyone to uproot your confidence or concoct veiled insults like the “if i was your mother” remark. As far as having a Master’s degree. I’m 29 years old, have nothing but an AS and despite the negative feedback from friends and family who insisted I would amount to nothing, I make a six figure salary + bonus. I had to work 80 hours a week early on, took entry level positions, but my skill level as it relates to my field of work is simply unmatched in the workplace, because it’s what I’m truly passionate about. I do it for fun. We just recently hired a 65 year old gentlemen who wanted to change careers. He was genuinely interested, articulate and possessed no particular degree that would automatically have risen him to “the top of the pile”. In fact, he had a BA in an entirely unrelated field, but he took the experience he had and explained how he would like to apply it in a way that was relevant to the particular project we had at the time. His experience, in my view, and apparently my boss’s (who herself IS a substantially educated and sagacious woman), blew away the candidates who did possess degrees, but lacked professional experience and were not nearly as articulate. Don’t sell yourself short. I look up to people like this guy, because they have more experience than I do. Some day, we all will find ourselves at a certain age. So what? Don’t you think that if such a set of circumstances is possible, that you too could leverage your greater experience? I bet you could and that you’re probably someone that I could learn from. The places I have worked for include some of the largest organizations in the world – the last places you’d expect a guy with an AS to make it.

      • Nina

        I appreciate your comments and “faith” in my integrity and work. Like the gentleman that you hired at 60 because he wanted a “career change” I also feel as though I’m continuing to feel a “pull” towards a more “self-fulfilling” position other than the one I’m currently in. I’ve heard through the grapevine that the local VA Administration near where I live has re-structured and that they will be hiring soon. I have been looking for something in which I can find self-fulfillment or something that has “a purpose” and I think working with veterans would be akin to “giving back” something of myself. I am a veteran myself and feel like I understand a little of what these folks have gone through. Thanks so much for your continued support! Best, Nina

  • neha


    i m phd student

    as i havnt done ne wrk of lab so when i m in lab i alwys think i dont know nething

    even at times people ask my phd topic and i m confused to tell them instantly

    i feel all r smart but i m not

    its killing me day by day really

    and i think every bdy think i m stupid becz i m not aware of nearby surrounding

  • asdf

    well today in particular i assumed that my task at my retail job was something, when it wasn’t, but i should have known, i was just being an idiot.. in general i get ‘lost’ in my environment and take a long time doing things, always feel like i’m losing my grip on what i’m doing. i do without thinking, i’m panicky, and i make stupid decisions. i hate myself sometimes

  • Alice

    When so many jobs are built on bullshit, it’s hard to feel competent when stuck in a system based on non logic.

    Sit back and tell me how your job really improves society. Unless you’re a teacher doctor etc, office jobs are created on bullshit

  • Nicole farrenkopf

    I just started working for the first time, I used to smoke a lot of marijuana when I was really young like 13-17 and I do every once in awhile now. I know I’m a lot slower from it but at work I always ask questions and when they show me it’s so obvious! Like I can’t find things, I feel like it’s confusing me in a weird way and I just don’t know how to be less ditzy! Nobody has ever told me I was though so maybe I’m just paranoid. Hahaha idk

  • Alison

    What lead me here was a google search for ‘my boss is going to think I’m stupid’

    It just so happens I google everything all the time. Constantly looking for validation that I am not by myself and that is the reason I love the internet and that search engine.

    The specific event that led me here was that I was recently promoted to the manager of a store. I can do a good job, and I do do a good job, only I’ve accidentally messed up the entire ‘window’ for this month. The sales are wrong in the computer and I threw away the promotional window cling as I had believed these sales to have ended with the month. Now I am going to have to not only tell my boss that I’m an idiot but have him order a new cling for me and hope it arrives before the inspector does. (Unlikely) and I’ll have to redirect the staff again. I feel and look like a bumbling idiot. I don’t want to face my mistake.

    I googled it so I could see other people who’ve made worse mistakes and still came out alright. I googled it to see coping, to see how they went about it and the outcome. I googled it because we are all the same.

  • lesley

    I have a job that requires me to think on my feet and I find that I don’t think well when I am in pressurized situations. I feel tense and I stop listening because I’m thinking and then I say the wrong thing at the wrong time and then its just downhill from there.

    When I see other people who are able to think quickly on their feet it makes me feel stupid and causes me to question my intelligence and whether I am in the right line of work.

    I find I do much better when I have time to analyse a situation in a less pressurized environment but I do not always have that luxury.

    A book that would help with thinking on your feet would be very helpful.

  • nelly

    please help me.i am a first born child in a family of parents had it hard on me as a child.i am a stammerer and i feel stupid when i talk around people.i think i was a bit slow and my mom would really pick on me for acting younger than my took all my confidence away.since then i have become a very nervous that i am married I’m blessed with an all loving husband who really loves me with all his heart.but i feel i have an inferiority has taken a toll on my job.i feel i am a liability to the company and one of my superiors gossiped with my workmate that some people come to work to eat.i feel so incompetent.i try my best to do my job but i always had a feeling of unworthiness and everytime i to talk to my employees regarding my work,i stammer thus making me feel like an idiot.i also have this feeling that they think me as stupid as well.i am a gifted song writer with a very beautiful voice but still struggling to get my songs recorded since its expensive.but I’m determined to quit my job someday and go into full time music.I’m still at work trying to make my ends meet and prepare for my can i stop despising myself and see the best the best in me please help me on that.please note that i am a stammerer.i wish i was not like that.

    • Rachel

      Hi, Nelly. First, I am so sorry for your struggles. Please try to be kind to yourself. We all have flaws and problems, though yours may be harder to hide. Maybe you know someone with terrible skin, or who is extremely overweight, or who has a physical disability of some sort – Do you think badly of them? Do you think they should walk around in shame and full of self hate? I’m sure you don’t. I hope you extend yourself the same compassion. Anyone who judges you and your stammer is probably trying to make themselves feel better about their own flaws and imperfections. And you have a wonderful husband who loves you. Surely he’s not crazy or blind or stupid. He’s a good man who sees you exactly as you are, as a completely loveable and wonderful woman.