Understanding your highly sensitive self is the best thing that can happen to your career.
When I started a career in the world of Human Resources I naively thought I’d be helping people get the best out of their people. Turns out I was occupied by bureaucracy and firefighting.
Instead of going back to the corporate world after my maternity leave in 2008, I started freelance writing for a living. I followed my passion and made it my career. I have not looked back.
During the course of 2009, I first became aware of the term ‘highly sensitive’. I also realised I am an introvert. The reasons why I was so miserable with how I earned my living before I became a writer hit me like a juggernaut.
I suddenly understood my deep hatred of open plan offices. I found the constant noise and regular interruptions from colleagues doing their jobs around me overwhelming. I was unable to concentrate. I need quiet to think. Highly sensitive people need quiet to recharge. After the nine to five of open office life, I went home exhausted and unhappy.
I loved those days that were oh so few and far between when I was able to work from home. I got why flexible schedules worked so much better for me. I like working independently; I like the peace and solitude.
I understood why the regular company reorganisations unsettled me more than others. I was either planning change, actioning change, living through change or helping other employees accept change. Highly sensitive people do not easily get on board with change.
It became clear to me why I had loved focussing on the projects that needed deep thinking. I liked work that that needed me to think about the consequences, the details. I like working with the bigger picture.
I understood why I hated the constant telephone calls and group video conferences. Highly sensitives dislike small talk and chatter. I hate talking on the telephone.
I hated the political games played by management. I could see the truth through the lies and I felt uncomfortable with my manager. (It possibly didn’t help that he once fell asleep during my performance appraisal).
I understood that I hated being an employee number in a multinational organisation, where nameless faces pass each other in the corridor. I have never been at ease working in a crowd of strangers.
Some people work at their best in a bustling, noisy office. I’m not one of them. I get my ideas and inspiration when it is calm and peaceful around me.
I am one of the lucky ones, my career fell into place. I’m happy that I realised that some working environments will never get the best out of me. I’m happy I’ve learned how to make sure my career gets the best out of me.
I’m happy that I learned I’m highly sensitive. It meant that I got to know myself better. And it turns out that understanding yourself is the best thing that can happen to your career.