I am fortunate to have a position that I love. This position grants me the opportunity to work with professionals from different backgrounds in all fields dedicated to serving underserved families and students.

My position requires me to be responsible for several tasks. One task in particular that I struggle is being a program coordinator with a large expectations. I love what I do and see so much potential for the project that I have.

But there is no guidance! I received little to no trainings or walkthrough. It's been a little over a year now and I have no tangible documents to measure my success because I was disorganized.

My disorganization stemmed from my lack of mental clarity. As a grad student dealing with a lot of family, personal issues, and healing from depression and severe anxiety I was literally not in my right mind. My direct supervisor is hands down the best boss I have ever had and is a role model in every way but I can tell that she is fed up with me. Indirectly, she has shared that they most likely won't choose to continue my position due to my lack of documentation.

Truth is, I freeze when it comes to writing nowadays. I'm not sure when this started (sometime in undergrad, probably when depression really hit). We have barely any staff and I am required to initiate and coordinate every project, market, conduct surveys. Everything!

I am so overwhelmed. I am thoroughly embarrassed with the reputation that I may leave my job with but at the same time I cannot and will not kill myself for my mental health struggle these past couple of years.

I just feel so bad because I let my boss down and I failed at my dream job (which thankfully is a graduate assistantship).

How do I move forward? My next task is drafting a plan on how we can move forward.

My boss doesn't understand that I truly have trouble organizing my thoughts and need someone to model how to be organized. All I have to do is put my thoughts on paper, I am pretty sure she will help me with rest. But I just cannot get it out.

And I miss all deadlines.

I am so frustrated. I am literally ruining my own life.

I love this position and I want to keep it. But I cannot survive in unstructured workplaces especially if I am not too familiar and required to be everywhere and do everything by myself.

I know it's a long ramble, any suggestions?

  • 1
    Are you seeing a therapist or is all this self diagnosis?
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 14, 2020 at 14:29
  • 1
    right now your question is very unclear. I would suggest re-writing it in format "here is my position and job - here is my troubles - here is what i want to happen" Feb 14, 2020 at 15:08
  • @mxyzplk-SEstopbeingevil I am seeing a therapist. Feb 17, 2020 at 13:44

3 Answers 3


You are overwhelmed. Your workload is too large/disorganised and as such you are unable to manage the amount of work you are expected to do in the time allocated for your role.

First; talk to your boss. I know they've helped you and they are the 'best boss you've had' and probably helped you in your role/career numerous times and that you feel like you don't have enough 'credit' to ask for more help... but their role is to make sure you can function properly within your role.

You explain to them you are unable to keep up with workload which presently makes it impossible to document the parts of the role which enable you to prepare it for handover to a third party/other person, which would free you up to work on more high-level tasks.

Advise your boss that you are unable to keep up with the load. It's up to them to manage the expectations of those submissions within your business. By working yourself into the ground so hard you have created a 'false economy' (because the volume of work is unrealistic for a single person to produce sustainably without breaking themselves trying to keep up) and now the business needs to reevaluate what is realistically achievable in the time given.

With expectations reset, you now have buffer time... buffer time which you can invest back into the documentation and working towards escaping this 'over-expectation loop' you are caught in.

And on a personal note; I hope the situation improves soon! Don't let a job ruin your mental health. Your mental health is infinitely more valuable than your paycheck is


This sounds like your first position.

Your boss is being unfair, whether knowingly or not is hard to tell.

Don't let her impact on your mental health any more than you can help it. Do the job to the best of your ability, if you get let go then the bosses expectations were unrealistic for a new employee. But don't blame yourself, so long as you tried your best you're doing better than many.

If you need structure, create it. That's exactly what the boss wants you to do anyway.

  • 1
    That's exactly what my boss wants me to do but I am struggling to keep organized. I blame myself, I allowed my internal problems get the best and self - sabatoged my life and future career. But it's a learning lesson. Feb 17, 2020 at 13:44
  • @AnxiousPerfectionist thats what lifes all about, learning
    – Kilisi
    Feb 17, 2020 at 22:45

You're definitely in a tough spot right now. You will get through this. You can be sure of that. Some observations:

  • You're not alone. Almost everybody goes through this kind of self-doubt once in a while. It seems to you like you're flailing, but some of that is in your head.

  • You're not failing. You're struggling. They are different things.

  • You can almost never go wrong asking for advice. Especially from your supervisor. It's her job to offer advice.

  • You need a short break, I believe. Take a long weekend or a few more days' vacation. Away from your work. Away. Give yourself some time to sleep and dream. When you ask your supervisor tell her why you need a little time. "I need a couple of days away to settle myself down and regain perspective."

  • Like most mission-driven people you have more work than you can finish. This will not change during your career, so you better get used to it. Here's what I do: In a quiet hour I make a list of all the things I'm doing. Then I prioritize them. Then I ask my supervisor to take a look at my priorities and suggest changes. Then I do the stuff at the top of the list.

  • This program you're coordinating? You actually have two tasks in it. One is to make your program successful, and the other is to make it so other people can run similar programs. You're doing fine at the first task: you know that. That second task is harder than the first task. It's also a very different kind of work: you have to shift your mental gears to do the necessary planning and writing. Have a conversation with your supervisor about all this. Admit you're having trouble with the second task, and ask for advice.

  • Try to find some other programs in your field where somebody has done the second task. Take a look at their materials (coordinator's guide? evaluators' guide?) and use them as a model for your work. You might even consider calling the people who created the materials and asking for a conversation.

The world needs the kind of programs you're developing and running. Be strong and be patient with yourself.

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