Being embarrassed by your job feels strange. You know you need the money. And you know you had a good reason when you took it. Yet here you are with a nagging feeling that you are in the wrong job. And that others will see you as failing somehow.
While there are many possible reasons for being embarrassed by your work, basically you have two general categories. Either you are judging yourself for the job you have or you worry that someone else will judge you. Well … or both.
Why are you embarrassed by job?
If you’re embarrassed by the job you have, it might help to ask yourself where the thought is coming from. Is the feeling about something central to the job itself that you need to pay attention to? For example, are you sitting at a desk all day and know that will never work for you?
Or is it about something deeper inside you — thoughts and feelings in conflict that make it hard to feel ok with your job / career choice? Maybe even something that if left “undiagnosed” could lead to a lifetime of work misery. If so, this feeling worth looking at now. You might even surprise yourself.
Take some time to look at the job objectively. What you like. What you don’t. You might find you actually like things about this “not good enough” job. Who is it that you are most concerned about pleasing? Whose standards are you trying to meet?
Is it just about you and you alone or might it be family and friends — even strangers — and how they look at you because of what you do? Some jobs may not feel good enough, but not for reasons that will lead to eventual career happiness.
Types of personal job embarrassment
I divided job embarrassment into three types to help you look at the roots of what you’re feeling. And hopefully help you see that there might be another way. One that’s about you … and not what others think. Or even your own self-doubts.
(1) Job not one you’d ever enjoy doing — or care about.
“I’m embarrassed by my job,
but I need the money,
and it’s all I can find right now.”
(2) You like the job, but it feels “beneath you.”
“I’m embarrassed by my job,
because it’s nothing I EVER imagined
as good enough for myself.”
(3) You like the job, but worry you’re not good at it.
“I’m embarrassed by my job
because I know people think I’m not good enough
— and maybe I’m not!”
Beware image police inside head
If you hear yourself saying “I’m embarrassed by my job,” you need to ask yourself where the thought is coming from. What’s the controlling factor?
Is it job image? Or is it a real connection to the part of your spirit that can bring true joy. The two are rarely the same. But the image police in your head can confuse the two, especially early on.
Believe me … you don’t want to spend a lifetime working in a field you think is right for you, but leaves you cold inside. You want work and career culture that actually FEELS right to you.
Why are you really embarrassed?
STEP #1: If you’re feeling embarrassed by the job you have, this is a great time to figure out why.
- Is it they type of work?
- Does the type of business embarrass you?
- Is it the company policies or image?
- Do you see yourself as better than this in some way?
- Is it just a “for now” job? (Never be embarrassed by that!)
- Other reasons?
Write down everything you can think of that makes you feel embarrassed about your current job.
STEP #2: Now ask yourself if you really feel this way in your heart or is it about how others view the work and judge you?
- Is there any part of you that actually likes the job, but feels you shouldn’t?
- Are there any aspects of the job you do like?
- Or do you truly feel that this has nothing to do with who you are?
Be honest about this part. I’ve known people who leave a job behind because family or friends say it’s not good enough for them. And then later on they wish they had pursued that path in some way.
But instead, they go after something others tell them is good enough or “better” for them. As a result, they wind up building a resume of jobs they never wanted. Sadly, they often don’t realize it until many years later.
Avoiding “path not taken” regret
If you’re sure the embarrassment is a signal to move on, by all means listen to the feeling. Explore things to help you get there. Take classes. Find a support network. Try things on for size. And don’t stop until you get there.
BUT … if you’re embarrassed by your job and yet secretly like it or at least some part of it, don’t throw that away to please other people — and their ideas of what YOU need to be happy. And if you do need to get better at it, by all means shake off the embarrassment and make improvement your goal!
A path not taken could have led you to better jobs down the road that built on aspects you really do enjoy. Even if you’re embarrassed to admit it to anyone else, at least, just for now, admit it to yourself. Once you do that, you can figure out the next steps later on!
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