Job, Boundaries, Saying No, and Anxiety

If you read here regularly you should know three things: I left a job two years ago that was bad for my mental health, I struggle with anxiety, and I just started a new part time job at the place where I have been volunteerting. All of that plays into this post.

I have been officially on the new job for a couple of weeks now. When I was hired I was told I would work 6 hours a week to start and that the hours would increase later. I was also told that some times would be busier with more hours and some would be lighter with fewer hours.

So, I start my week with the idea that I will be at work for three hours on Monday and Wednesday mornings. I will have volunteer shifts Tuesday and Friday mornings until the end of the current session. I plan my life around this.

Last week, I was asked to stay longer on Wednesday to go to Home Depot to get keys made and to pick up some supplies. I had no reason to say no, so I did.

Monday, a horse broke some boards on the fence in their field and they needed to be replaced. They asked if I could stay and take care of it. I did and it took most of the day. I left on time yesterday but then got a text from someone there to tell me there was another fence issue. I texted the person in charge to see how immediate the need was because I have limited availability for the rest of this week. I was told it wasn’t immediate so I said I would take care of it when I am there Monday. All should be good.

Except, as soon as I became an employee all of the anxiety I had regarding work at my last job came flooding back. I am anxious about the job even when there is no reason to be. I assume my phone will ring at any time with them asking me to work when I am not supposed to be at work. I’m anxious about their response if I say I am not available. I am anxious about the possibility that I might decide it isn’t worth ruining how much I enjoy the place by adding all of this job-related anxiety to it.

I know that I never consented to be on call 24/7. I know that they have not asked me to be on call 24/7.

I know I have the right to say no if they ask me to come in on a day when I am not scheduled to work.

I know that they are much nicer and more understanding than the people at my last job and I have seen no evidence that this will change if I say no.

I know the worst-case scenario is that I end up leaving the job whether by my choice or theirs. It wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I know that it would be better to know now if there will be an expectation of being on call 24/7 and that they will react poorly if I say no.

I just wish I could relax, live my life, say no when asked to do something I can’t or don’t want to do, and leave if it becomes a bad situation. Instead, I’m just anxious most of the time.


9 thoughts on “Job, Boundaries, Saying No, and Anxiety

  1. I had the same problem with defining boundaries. I worked from home in PR and Marketing. I had a client a few blocks away that would call me in the evening around 7 p.m. with a new project and want it done by morning. I didn’t know how to say no.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Boundaries have become a serious problem in the workplace, without burnout a serious issue. Do they know that you’ve suffered with anxiety in the past? If not, maybe you could let them know and talk about “expectations” so that you’re not blindsided. It’s possible it was just an unfortunate series of events in your first couple of weeks, but a good idea to check rather than ruminate. Not easy I know, so all the best with it.

    Liked by 2 people

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