I’ve come to dislike my work in a public office

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male public employee in my 20s. This is my third year of working at a local government office, and I’ve come to dislike my workplace.

I chose to work at a public office because I wanted to help people in need. I was assigned to a cleaning section, not the welfare section that was my first choice. I nevertheless told myself I would work with enthusiasm at any post. However, to my disappointment, a senior colleague took away the little work assigned to me. I tried to find work on my own, but I had very little to do for the initial two years.

Last year, there was a personnel transfer, and my enthusiasm came back. However, although the amount of my work increased, the people around me acted in a similar way. They don’t show me how to do jobs, and they always handle contractors with bureaucratic arrogance and find fault with other people.

I’d encouraged myself to hang on many times, but I’ve now lost hope about working at a public office. I feel I’ve even become ill-natured. I want to get out of this situation, but I suffer from a chronic illness and have no work skills. I’m very concerned I may not be able to go on in society.

N, Tokyo

Dear Mr. N:

I think your problem has two aspects. It’s unforgivable to make a young man full of enthusiasm feel that disheartened. On the other hand, we probably shouldn’t just sit and wait for jobs we want to do, but instead should make efforts to get them by ourselves.

You’re aware of both aspects but can’t adapt yourself to the organization or leave your work. You’ve become trapped. However, I don’t want to hear you say, “I’ve become ill-natured,” as if talking about somebody else. I hope you stay loyal to your image of how public employees should work and wait for a good opportunity to materialize it.

Public employees are often transferred. So I assume you’re likely to get an opportunity to work in a better environment or under a better boss. If we work appropriately, not only at public offices but at any workplace, it is certain to be acknowledged and lead to an opportunity to work with a person who will promote our interests. I think any organization has this characteristic.

There’s a famous axiom by ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi: Heaven’s net looks very large and loose, but it never fails to catch a sinner. The axiom can also be interpreted as “If we live right, heaven never fails to see it.” It may sound a little naive, but I feel all you have to do is to believe the axiom and go forward.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from March 27, 2016, issue)Speech

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