I Cannot Feel Happy About My Colleague’s Pregnancy Due to My Huge Workload

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female office worker in my mid-20s, and I cannot be truly happy about my colleague’s pregnancy.

When I joined my company, no one was there to teach me how to do my job, so I had to learn everything on my own. I worked alone, always teaching myself everything while feeling the crushing pressure of being the only one responsible.

Last spring, a person who is my senior finally transferred to my department. I took the time to tell her about my duties, but when she told me about her pregnancy at the end of last year, I didn’t know how to feel.

I should be happy for her, but I wonder if I wasted my time over the past year teaching her about the job. I also think my workload will increase again when she goes on maternity leave.

I know we should lean on others when we need help, but this would be a burden on other than someone who will go on maternity leave.

I feel so selfish for thinking this way and hate myself for it.

How can I be happy for others while still taking care of myself?

— P, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Ms. P:

You must have been shocked to find out that your colleague is going on maternity leave just when you thought you would finally feel relief after a year of training her.

You said that you feel selfish and unable to truly feel happy for your colleague. But people can only be happy for others when they are satisfied and content with themselves and their own lives.

Before trying to be generous, I think you need to tell your supervisor about your workload so that they can provide the necessary staff and support you need.

The fact that you cannot be happy for others is a sign that you do not feel fulfilled. There is a concept called self-compassion, so please take good care of yourself.

Instead of suppressing your disappointment about having to work so hard and alone once again, I recommend you tell your company about your situation.

You need to try and improve your work environment so that you can feel comfortable and at ease. This will help protect your physical and mental health.

— Junko Umihara, psychiatrist