DEAR AMY: I recently changed careers. I am a new hire at my place of employment. Most of my co-workers are old enough to be my parents or grandparents, and have been working there for more than 10 years. I have noticed a clash in personality with most of my co-workers. I am quite reserved and professional, while during breaks and downtime, they speak and act as if they are in a rowdy bar. I try to be friendly and sociable with them, but it is hard, mostly due to our age difference. It has become increasingly difficult lately, as their personal and political beliefs have come out in conversation. I am a very progressive person, but some of my co-workers have expressed some extremely racist and classist views that make me very uncomfortable. I have bitten my tongue during these discussions, but my conscience is telling me I am not being a good ally by keeping my mouth shut. I am not afraid of losing my job over my different opinions, but I am afraid of being snubbed and shunned, as I’ve noticed most of the minorities at our workplace have been. My bosses and co-workers place importance on social activities, arranging cookouts at our office and nights out. I have been very cautious about interacting socially, especially after hearing those racist views. I enjoy my job, and the benefits are great. I would like to be comfortable at work. I don’t feel as if my bosses could do anything about this, as most of the racist talk has come from people who are employed by the city, and not directly by our company. Should I avoid social interactions, or should I speak out about my disapproval of their racism?
New Girl with Moral Dilemma
DEAR NEW GIRL: Yes, you should speak out. It is shocking that government employees would feel comfortable expressing racist views in the workplace. I am distinguishing between people expressing political viewpoints, and those who are openly racist. There is a wide difference between the two.
The workplace is not the place to express one’s racist thoughts. This behavior is unprofessional and unacceptable, and it is unethical for you to stay silent.
I think you should also make note of some of these incidents, in order to advocate for change. Your bosses should absolutely crack down on this.
If you are shunned for speaking out, then count yourself lucky. You would then be relieved from the pressure of spending any leisure time with these people.
Also, look for a different job.
DEAR AMY: I’m 23 and recently got officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety, something I’ve struggled with since high school, when I would self-harm. I even attempted suicide. Now I’ve finally gotten the help and medication I need, and I feel much better. My mother refuses to acknowledge depression (or any mental illness, for that matter) as a “real disorder.” I never told her about my self-harm or suicide attempts, but I did allude to not wanting to live anymore during high school. She responded by threatening to have me committed, since, of course, I sounded crazy, not depressed. I haven’t told her I have been diagnosed, or that I am on medication, since she doesn’t believe in mood-altering medications. I want her in my life, and need her support, since I don’t have much family. How do I go about explaining to her that this is real and that medication is necessary?
Desperate and Depressed
DEAR DEPRESSED: You should discuss this with your therapist, but I think you should consider the option of keeping your diagnosis and treatment private, at least for now.
You are at a tender and transitional age, and also at an important point in your recovery. This might not be the best time to encounter your mother’s denial. In adulthood, one of your challenges will be to always put your health first, understanding that this might require you to keep some (emotional) distance from your mother.
DEAR AMY: “Stick to Business” wondered how to react to sexual innuendo traded at the local car dealership. When I was much younger, if a man told me a very “off-color” joke, I would give him a blank look and ask what he meant. Then I would watch him struggle to explain. More than once, my husband would finally step in and rescue the man by telling him, “She gets it; she’s just pulling your leg.”
I Actually Get It
DEAR GET IT: Boom!