Are You a Martyr?

Photo by Evil Erin

Are you a martyr or do you have a martyr-like personality? I’ve been doing much introspective thinking lately.

I announced that I was leaving Wausau Whitewater as the Operations Manager to focus on the Design Resumes side of me. Though I had the help of board members, volunteers, and others, I still was carrying a large load for the organization.

My president kept asking if I was asking for volunteers. I did ask, but not as much as I should have. I tended to think that it should be obvious to the people that I needed help and if they didn’t offer, they were busy too.

My Martyr Personality

I told the president when we were discussing my resignation, that this is my martyr personality. When I was much younger, I was President of an Explorer Post (Boy Scout Co-ed program) and for a couple years we took an annual trip north to Minocqua. Part of the trip was a visit to Circle M Corral. Not just once but every time, when it was time to go horseback riding in the morning, I said I would stay back and prepare breakfast.

The funny part about that is that from the time I was a little girl, I loved horses and dreamed of going riding. But something would happen and it wasn’t fear of riding, because I have gone a time or two since, but feeling that martyr thing going on. Couldn’t I have gone riding and we all made breakfast later together? Sure, but, no, Julie had to play martyr.

Pitch in and help

I’m a “pitch in and help” kind of person and so if you need my help, you will get it. But I have people all around me that don’t work that way, including my own family members. I know that people need to be asked, often want to be asked, but I struggle to do that. I don’t want to impose or make work for them.

I’m really trying to change that. With my departure from Wausau Whitewater, I’ll ask for help for projects I work on and asking for advice on ways to avoid being the martyr. I’ll also be finding ways to push that martyr-attitude away and get out there and live. It’s not going to be easy to conquer this attitude I have been stuck on, but I will give it a try.

How about you?

Are you a martyr, do you fail to ask for help and let yourself get so burdened that you aren’t having fun any more? Does it get in the way of your functioning and ability to move forward in your career or personal life?

Perhaps you could benefit from some targeted coaching. Jane C. Woods, Personal Development Specialist for Women gives some valuable advice in her post, Have you got an Inner Doormat?


  1. Kim Woodbridge on December 14, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I’m glad that you made this decision – it seemed that you had way too much going on.

    It can be hard to ask for help. I don’t think I tend to be a martyr about things but I know people who do act like that. My mother was like that – she took on everything and wouldn’t ask for assistance. She wanted people to offer without being asked.

  2. Alexia Scott on December 14, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Hi, Julie! I read your post on the PARW e-list and thought I’d mosey over here and check out your blog. (Is “mosey” a word? )

    Certainly, I can relate to the tendency to overwork and not to ask for, much less graciously accept, help.

    Recently, I was reading another résumé writer’s blog, and she recommended a book called “Every Word Has Power–Switch on Your Language and Turn on Your Life,” by Yvonne Oswald. I’m reading it on my Kindle, and for a word geek who is also open to change and growth, it’s an absolute delight.

    Best wishes on your next act, and let us know how it goes!


  3. Andrew on December 14, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    There is a time when we need to back off a bit from things. People that know me know that I have been involved with many things at church and out in the community. For the past couple of years, I have had some involvement with the Bike & Pedestrian Committee of the MPO. This month I decided to skip out of the meeting to work on Christmas stuff at home. The headlines from last Sunday’s Daily Herald made the work of that committee much more important to me.

    Unfortunately sometimes I miss out on opportunities because I am so wrapped up in organizational stuff that I miss out on getting in on opportunities in freelance photography. I might have missed a deadline with the Reiman group for spring time publication. That is very important to me because their magazines are very big on landscapes and even certain still-lifes.

    Sometimes, you have to back off a little from certain things. Then you can either head off in a new direction or come back to them at a later date with a new perspective. For example, at Trinity I started teaching Sunday School in my late twenties, but I really was not connected with the children at that time. I moved into administration and then backed out to do other things. I had been teaching off and on for the past 8 years or so. I am seeing lives being touched and sense that I am being seen as role model for these kids. I know their lives.

    Julie, when you are burned out with a particular organization, it is okay to back off and let others take charge and do the work. Otherwise you go on without the sense of purpose that you used to have.

  4. Michelle on December 18, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Oh, that’s totally me. I guess I never thought about it that way before, but I really do just stew in silence about how no one is helping without actually _asking_ anyone.


  5. Julie on December 18, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Don’t we all, Michelle! No, I suspect there are a few people who always ask but I know plenty who don’t… let’s practice asking in 2010!

Resume Design and Job Seeking Tips

Here are Design Resumes' latest articles on job search, resume design, resume writing, and Linkedin optimization articles I've written.

FREE Resume and Job Search Tips by email

Get free tips and strategy direct to your inbox. just add your name and email below. I respect your privacy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

Here are ways I can help you land your dream job.

You may be halfway across the country or the world. When you work with me, we share coffee, laughs, and concerns. This turns the scary job search into creative, consultative writing and learning sessions.