Years ago, when I moved from my small hometown in Michigan to New York, I took administrative temp work to get my “foot in the door” and get a full-time job.
One of my temp assignments left me especially miserable. The person managing me would hurl insults at another employee. The job–stuffing envelopes–was brain-meltingly boring. And of course, as an HSP, all this affected me greatly.
I got home and (surprise!) complained about it to my husband.
I remember that he said, matter-of-factly, “Call your temp agency and quit the assignment. It’s not worth you being miserable.”
My first reaction was, “I can’t do that!” I committed to the assignment. They were counting on me! I don’t quit things.
Then he asked me: What’s more important? My mental health or finishing a temp job for some company that couldn’t care less about me?
He was right. There was no reason for me to care so much about this job. So what if my quitting inconveniences the company or the temp agency? Who cares?
When I was a kid, my dad used to jokingly say, “You gotta look out for Number One”.
“Number One” is yourself. Ultimately, your workplace doesn’t really care about you. You are replaceable. You have to look out for your HSP-self first and stop worrying about everyone and everything else.
A few months ago, a friend was struggling at work. She was overwhelmed by too many responsibilities and was ready to quit. I posed the question to her: “What would happen if you didn’t get all your work done on time? What if you couldn’t finish all the tasks?” And her response was something like, “I guess it wouldn’t be the end of the world…” But I could tell that she wouldn’t even consider letting some things slip through the cracks. She was a hard worker who cared about her performance.
She was either going to do a great job, or no job at all.
I told her, “You are ready to quit your job. What will it hurt to try caring less first? If you can care less about work, then you won’t feel so stressed about not getting everything done. Just do the best you can. That’s all you can do.”
Look. I know you care deeply about details, my HSP friend, but please remember that worrying and stressing about your job isn’t productive. You probably care more about your job than many people do; you are loyal, committed, and hard-working. But when you stress because you feel like you aren’t doing good work, or that you are behind on a project, ask yourself, “Who cares?” Hopefully this will help you put it all into perspective and take a little stress off your shoulders.
Like this post? Listen to Episode 6 of the Highly Sensitive Person Podcast about the same topic.