Why, oh why?
How did I land here?
How did I land on a career path that is SO. NOT. ME.?
What is wrong with me?
How could one person make SO many wonky choices?
Before my career change, I used to beat myself up with these types of questions over and over and over again. Endlessly.
My career path just didn’t feel right. There was nothing too obvious that anyone could point their finger at – I had a “good job” after all – but the lead actor in this movie called Career just wasn’t getting into character. At all.
And that’s because I was the wrong actor for that particular movie. I was Anne of Green Gables trying to make it in Devil Wears Prada. I was twisting myself up this way and that, trying to fit the square me in a round hole, and I was really angry at myself for putting myself in that position.
But I don’t beat myself up like that anymore.
Because now I understand exactly why it is that I ended up on the wrong career path in the first place.
It wasn’t my fault. I just didn’t have the guidance I needed. There was nobody around to help me understand my authentic self or help me create a more suitable career and lifestyle for myself.
And I also know that I’m not the only one who has experienced this predicament. Far from it. LOTS of my fellow highly sensitive people end up going down the wrong career path just like I did.
Here are three reasons why.
3 REASONS WHY HIGHLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE END UP ON THE WRONG career path
#1 ALL THE SUBTLE AND NOT-SO-SUBTLE MESSAGES ABOUT THE WAY A HUMAN BEING SHOULD BE
From the time you are a child, every which way you turn, you are exposed to messages about how people should be. What we should all aim for.
The lucky ones only get the subtle messages:
- Look at little Johnny! He’s so friendly and outgoing!
The less lucky ones get it loud and clear:
- Why don’t you talk more?
- Just come on and have fun like everyone else!
- Quit being so sensitive!
- What is wrong with you?
So you learn that it’s best to talk even when you have nothing to say, join in on the “fun”, and do your best to hide your sensitivities.
And all this cultural pressure to blend in is exacerbated by the fact that…
#2 HSPS TEND TO BE HIGH ON EMPATHY AND CONSCIENTOUSNESS
One of the hallmarks of high sensitivity is high levels of empathy. High empathy, in turn, allows highly sensitive people to be keenly in tune with the feelings and needs of everyone around them.
In the right circumstances, this is a gift, but in less than ideal circumstances, it can lead HSPs toward the wrong path.
First, when you combine high empathy with poor personal boundaries, HSPs can mix up their own and other people’s feelings. They might start absorbing other people’s preferences and opinions, as if they were their own.
Second, when you are a caring and conscientious person who is keenly aware of other people’s needs, your first instinct is to try to meet those needs. Whether you are the best person to meet them or not.
So you end up with this:
- What do people around me need? I will give them whatever they ask for. I will take on whatever role they need me to take.
Instead of this:
- What am I best suited to give? What is the best way for me to contribute? I will take good care of myself, so that I can serve those people who I am best suited to help.
#3 HSPS HAVE UNIQUE NEEDS THAT NOBODY TELLS YOU ABOUT
Highly sensitive people are physically different from the majority of the population in that their nervous systems are more easily stimulated and their stress response more easily triggered. This means that HSPs have a lower stress threshold than non-HSPs. A lifestyle with just the right amount of activity and stimulation for a non-HSP can leave an HSP chronically stressed out with potentially severe mental and physical health consequences.
Now, did anybody tell you this stuff in high school? When you were choosing a career? When you were deciding where to live? When you were thinking about having a family? When you went to the doctor with chronic health complaints?
Yeah, me neither.
THE GOOD NEWS
Okay, so the first part of this post was a total downer, right? But dontya worry, cause I’m gonna end this shindig on a positive note. There ARE good news.
The good news is that you are not a prisoner of your wrong path.
Granted, it might sometimes feel like you are.
There might be obstacles that stand between you and the right path.
And you might not even know what your right path looks like, which obviously makes it harder to get to.
But I’m here to tell you that you CAN create a vision for your right path.
And you CAN overcome those obstacles.
And you CAN make changes.
I really hope you find the resources here helpful as you are working through all of it!