Apathy, or something like it

Do you ever have those days where nothing seems right? Where the things that usually get you going at work just aren’t? Maybe a few days when, instead of being excited about the new shiny, you are bereft of any interest in it.

If any of this is true then you may be suffering from apathy.

Dictionary.com defines apathy as

1. absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
2. lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

Apathy can have many causes: family issues; depression, or some other mental health condition; overwork; financial stress; lack of sleep; illness; a disconnect from your community, etc…

As someone that has worked as a DBA for quite some time, worked in a few places, and with quite a few other DBAs, the biggest cause of apathy that I’ve seen is workplace burn-out.

Burn-out won’t always show up as an apathetic behavior, sometimes it will show as an extreme tiredness, that no amount of sleep can fix. Other times it could appear through a series of emotional reactions that you might not otherwise experience. Frequently though it ultimately leads to apathy, where you just don’t care about the job, the people you work with, the things that you are doing, or whether or not you keep the job.

There’s no single cause of workplace burn-out. It really can vary from person to person as to what causes them to reach the point where they are suffering and no longer care.

Some of the more common reasons tend to be:

  • Overworked – I don’t have enough time to complete all this stuff and I’m already working an 80 hour week.
  • Underpaid – surely I’m worth more than this?
  • On-call – this is the third night in a row I’ve been woken at 2am for something, I really need to get some sleep, and I’m back on call in two weeks.
  • Under/Unappreciated – would be nice if someone gave me at least a little credit for keeping things running around here. I don’t need all the love that these salespeople do, just a touch of acknowledgement wouldn’t be too much to ask for would it?
  • Unheeded – I’ve told the devs that if the code went out like that it was going to cause problems, but nobody listened, and now I’m up at 2am trying to fix an issue that could have been avoided.
  • Bullied – I’m getting hassled just for using the bathroom. I can’t be at my email 24/7 so stop expecting me to respond within 5 minutes to something you’ve sent out about a test environment. Heck, I don’t even work for you, and you are making my life a living hell.
  • Bad management – you’re supposed to have my back, but you capitulate to anyone and everyone. You don’t care about me, or my career, or even my tenure here, all that matters to you is climbing up the chain.
  • Stuck in a rut – all I do is check the backups. I’m not looking at new functionality. I’ve been here for years, and not once have I had the chance to get out for training. I can do so much more than this, I just wish I could be given the chance.
  • Invalid statistics (your histogram is not accurate) – I’m not as good as anyone else out there, they all know so much more than me. I’m such an impostor. I’ll never be able to know all that they know. Might as well just pack it all in now.

Sometimes Frequently it can be more than one of the above reasons (or one of many more) that make you feel as if work is the last place you want to be, or that you just don’t care whether or not you go to work.

So what can you do about these work things? Sure, you could quit your job and go find something else, but that may not be an option, and who’s to say that you won’t run into exactly the same problems at the new job?

Over the next few posts I’m going to take a look at each of the above challenges and see what, if anything, can be done to try and make these things a little better. After all, nobody wants to go through life without feeling. And given that you spend most of your waking hours at the office it would be better to try and tackle these problems rather than sweep them under the rug.


3 thoughts on “Apathy, or something like it”

  1. Boy that was me a year ago. Bad manager (you know who). I would get up at 8 AM and would wish I was sick so I could just go back to bed.

    Now I’m working east coast hours and getting up at 4 AM, and I hop right up and get to work.


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