Why I Work Alone: A Group Project Horror Story

If you’ve gone to school at any point in your life, you have felt the pain of group projects. The terror of being put in a group of people you don’t know; the horrifying disappointment when you notice that those strangers are lazy assholes; the sinking feeling in your stomach as you understand that you will have to complete the workload for five people by yourself; the nausea as you realise that everyone will have to present, and it’s a shared mark.

Group projects fucking suck. Case closed.

I’ve been on both sides of the discussion- both the person doing all the work, and the freeloader. It sucks more being the freeloader if you’re a bossy, slightly neurotic person who doesn’t trust a soul. You don’t get to boss anyone around, because there’s an even more bossy, louder person who’s taking the reins by force. And doing it badly.

Allow me to paint you a picture:

University, crammed in a study room with six people, discussing a dumb (like, seriously stupid) group project on  the top five characteristics of nurses as supported by research.

The small 40-year-old man who tries to look younger by dying his few remaining hairs a vibrant blond takes charge.

“So, ummmm…Empathy is a big one, right? How about I do empathy and ummm…you…Any other ideas?”

I try to save him from his long um’s. “Well-”

“Yeah, ummmm…Also like, niceness, right?”

“I don’t think that’s a real-”

“Lisa, how about you find out something about niceness? Who can draw? We should try drawing niceness.”

“Since this is university-”

“That’s a great idea!” Someone says. “Ella should draw, since we’re all already doing stuff.”

“Now wait a minute-”

“Yeah Ella, stop being a freeloader. You should draw all the characteristics,” Three other people chorus.

I acquiesce, even though it’s a stupid fucking idea.

Another meeting, a week later.

“So here’s the dumb drawing,” I say, slapping down a coat of arms that I basically traced from my laptop screen. “Now, I think we should-”

“Wait, but where’s the shoe?”

“What shoe?”

“The shoe that’s supposed to represent empathy!”

Image result for seriously?! cartoon
I am the cat

“Fuck you and your stupid shoe! We need to talk about the presentation!”

Silence for a brief second.

“Oh yeah, ummm…what if we each present what we researched?”

“See, that would be a good idea, except not everyone researched something. Two people didn’t,” I snap at Blondie. He is the reason blonde jokes exist.

“Ummm…introduction and conclusion?”

“This is supposed to be a ten minute presentation- the intro and conclusion should be thirty seconds each,” I remind him.


During the presentation, two days later.

“Empathy is important because um…nurses need to be there for their patients, and ummm…be nice. Niceness is also important. Um…”

I jump in, thanking my lucky stars that I thought to do research for everything. “Empathy is an integral part of the nursing practice due to its importance in creating a relationship founded in trust and mutual respect. Without the impulse to care about their patient, the nurse would not think to initiate a therapeutic relationship, without which certain aspects of the client’s emotional, cognitive, and physical status would remain unknown.”

The audience claps, but my soul shrivels; Blondie has destroyed it with his utter incompetence.


Have I made you piss yourself with horror at the grossness of that group project? No? Very well then, I accept your challenge: here’s an even worse picture for you to carry to your grave. You asked for it, so don’t blame me for the heavy therapy you’ll require.

Ha, can you imagine that session though?

“Yes doctor, I’m here for my PTSD and anxiety attacks.”

“Dearie me. What do you think caused this?”

“I remember it vividly- I read this blog…and I was never the same.”

Image result for freud couch cartoon

Sucks for you! Continue reading if you dare, because following is the absolute worst group project I’ve ever been involved in. It still haunts my nightmares. I have a lot of nightmares.

High school, grade 10, a debate assignment in history class with two “best friends” + me.  

“So, how about you do everything, and we’ll show up at the end and follow the script?”

“What?” I ask, naive and smiling. I’m positive they’re joking.

“Yeah, that’s a great idea, Jeanie. I knew I loved you for a reason!”

“Wait, seriously? This is a huge project.”

“No, I love you,” BF#2 croons.

“I love you more.”

“I love you more.”

They cuddle, shoving their boobs in each others’ faces.


They break apart and frown at me.

“Okay, so send us an email with the script when you’re done making it.”

They leave.


Have tingles gone down your spine in a not-good way? Are you shitting your pants? Have diapers become a permanent part of your routine yet?

Just kidding. I know you’re already stuck in a mental hospital, in the section reserved for fans for shows that have been cancelled.

So, tell me about your shitty group project experiences. How awful did it get for you?









8 thoughts on “Why I Work Alone: A Group Project Horror Story

  1. What amazes me is that this post still made me laugh despite how familiar I am with the horror of group projects. You caught me with the shoe. “Where’s the shoe?”
    This scenario of getting the whole project dumped on you encapsulates my life. This may be one of the reasons I’m a writer. I get to do the whole project myself.
    The thing I don’t understand is that teachers and professors went to school They know the drill. One person gets all the work dumped on them while everyone else wanders around all confused pretending that they are going to contribute until the end when everything is done and they are so surprised that it’s finished. So what is really being achieved by assigning a group project?
    One story. In elementary we had a project where we had to take an object, something small, and make it much larger and make it to scale. My brilliant idea (I’d always make projects bigger in scope than they needed to be) was to enlarge a dollar bill. If you ever take the time to examine paper money, there’s a lot of detail. So there’s me at my young age trying to replicate the back of a dollar bill with my pencil to draw with, and then later I went in and painted it. To give you an idea of how much bigger I made it, it was on the back of gift wrapping paper, so pretty darn big…maybe that was a story better left in the library of repressed memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to have given you a few extra laughs lines.
      I always used to ask my teachers to let me do the group project by myself- it’s so stressful having to depend on someone to a) do their work and b) not fuck up the presentation. Because group projects always have presentations attached.
      NOTHING! Nothing is achieved with a group project. They’re dumb.
      Woah, you really went all out with that art project. I hope you got a good mark! Do you still have it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel like I’m going to have nightmares about this topic now. I hate how the group grade was given to everyone despite the whole group not doing the work. I don’t have the project anymore. I most likely threw it out as soon as we received our grade. If only it were so easy to get rid of memories.
        Work is the same. I always found it easier to do the work myself than to delegate a task and find I had to redo it because it wasn’t done right.
        The sad thing is that I can work well with others, unless there’s an assessment on the work being done. I have a higher level of expectation on the outcome of a project.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You and me both, Mandie. I kept everything from grade school, for some reason…I always thought that I would end up needing my grade 10 math notes in the future.
        I have a lot of patience with people, but after a while, having to constantly explain everything you’re thinking gets tiring. It’s easier to just do it yourself, and be sure it turns out right.
        Lucky for us, we’re writers, which means only we can write our shit!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think my mom tried to keep a lot of stuff for me from elementary school, and I spent a good deal of time trying to get rid of it. I kept a ridiculous amount of stuff from college though, which I’m still trying to get rid of.
        I switched from biology/pre-med to journalism halfway through college, but I couldn’t convince myself to get rid of those biology and chemistry books. Probably because they were so damn expensive.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ugh, I’m currently in university, so I feel your pain. I can’t believe I used to like school at this point. It takes a lot of courage to switch your major, especially when you’re already two years in- props to you!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I remember that feeling too. I still have nightmares where it’s the end of the semester and somehow I’m attending class for the first time trying to figure out what’s going on.
        I loved science and helping people, but I’ve always had this undeniable passion for writing. It was hard to let go of becoming a doctor, and picking journalism was still off the mark. I was still working on being brave enough to pursue writing. The things I learned about investigative journalism have come in handy with research for my books though (and interestingly enough the biology helps too). At least I’m here now, even if it wasn’t a straight path.

        Liked by 1 person

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