When Opportunity Knocks, but it Isn’t Looking for You

How about those women’s marches? I feel better about my country than I have in months.
View of the January 21, 2017 women's march in a major city with protestors filling the street between tall buildings and holding signs
As it happens, I didn’t attend one. Pop-up protests over the past few years have been a major source of stress in my life, and I’m pretty angry about that. The same few demonstrators show up to anyone’s march, looting, breaking windows, vandalizing random cars, and stoning police. Not a constructive way to espouse a cause. I depend on public transit, and a few dozen demonstrators can close it down for hours. As I result, I have often been stranded far from home, in the middle of a very tense situation, lugging 30 pounds of perishable groceries.

Because of this, I am on alert lists for the bus company and police department. Which is how I heard about the women’s march – the bus company sent out an advance email about expected service disruptions. Other than that, I saw only a TV commercial, which surprised me. Protest marches advertise? That’s new. But given aforementioned experiences with protests, I wasn’t intrigued enough to find out more.

But on the day of the march, when texts from the police department started coming in with massive numbers, I realized something different and historical was happening. I briefly considered going, until I got a text from the bus company saying they had completely closed down bus service to the downtown core. I texted back “completely unacceptable!,” but I was relieved from the decision of whether to enter an intensely crowded, noisy situation where my ability to retreat would’ve been severely limited.

Maybe I would’ve risen above the limits of sensitivity on the group high. Then again, I tend towards disturbed-hibernating-bear syndrome in January, so maybe not.

But even from my armchair, it was pretty cool. And the more I learned about it, the more amazing it got. It wasn’t just the massive turnouts in major cities. There were also hundreds (not an exaggeration) of marches in smaller towns, and even tiny villages, some of them in very bad weather and/or unfriendly environments.

I’m something of a coward about putting myself physically and visibly on the line. I’ve found some peace with this reluctance, now that I understand it’s a pretty natural reaction for an HSP introvert. There’s more than one way to be an activist. Still, I respect people who expose themselves in that way, even if it feels less risky to them than it would to me. If you participated, thank you. A lot. Thank you for showing me I wasn’t alone.

But this post isn’t about that. The rest of it isn’t, anyway :)

What’s New – or Not – with Me

My self-employed career isn’t going well. It turns out there is a fatal flaw in my business plan (this is a figure of speech. If you happen to be comparing yourself with me, I don’t want to deceive you into thinking I have anything as organized as a written plan). I’ve done a really excellent job at finding people I emotionally resonate with as clients. Over and over, they tell me they chose to work with me because they felt I understood them.

And I do. They are people who are going it alone, carving out their own career niche, plus a few passionate bloggers who just have to write. Like me. Most of them are struggling financially, also like me, with a very limited budget for things like… my services. I have done an excellent job of finding my peers. At creating myself an income, not so much.
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Thank You for Sharing

I’m not a fan of TED Talks. What’s the point of recruiting interesting people who are experts in their field – who have highly detailed and specialized knowledge gleaned from years of intensive study – if you are going to impose an 18-minute time limit that forces them to generalize to the point of meaninglessness? No introvert thought that up, that’s for sure!

I’m similarly unenthused about “Big 5” personality trait theory, the extrovert bias of which I have ranted about elsewhere. I mention it only because one of the Big 5 traits is “agreeableness,” which is probably the inspiration for the same-named trait mentioned in this TED Talk.

Give and Take

Yes, this post is about a TED Talk, by organizational psychologist Adam Grant. Despite my skepticism about the format, his discussion of workplace sharing styles and how they relate to productivity and career success is highly relevant to my own experience.

Grant defines the sharing styles as taker, giver, and matcher. About a quarter of people are givers, a sixth are takers, and the rest are matchers. It’s interesting that a substantial majority are matchers. I’m betting most people think only in terms of givers and takers.

Go on, watch it. I can wait. You’ll love the part about the Canadian national slogan – so HSP! Continue reading

By George, I think she’s got it!

3 years ago, I sat down in the middle of my life and refused to budge until I figured out why it wasn’t working.

I have learned a lot about myself since then.

I have learned that I am an introvert
(“No way!”
“Way!”)

I have learned that I’m an HSP, and what that is. These days, I think of myself as a “deep engager.” I’m not sure how much of that is introvert, how much is HSPS, and how much is my unique personality, but wherever it comes from, it’s a good description.

These days, I think of myself as a “deep engager.”

This improved self-understanding has allowed me to acknowledge without shame or apology that the following characteristics in a job make me miserable:

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Who answers ads for “rock star” positions?

Seriously – I want to know. People with exceptional (or excessive) self-esteem? Narcissists? People who like a challenge? Only children of doting parents? People with no qualms about lying? Would you answer an ad like that?

When employers advertise for a “rock star [fill in the blank],” what is it exactly that they think they are screening for? And do they realize they are discouraging anyone with the least bit of modesty, or who might tend to undervalue their own skills (which includes most women, and could add up to a lot of perfectly well-qualified people)? Not to mention anyone who has learned to avoid employers that exhibit unrealistic expectations from the get-go. Do they really need their admin or cashier to also be a “rock star”?

Maybe it’s because I live in an area that is Start-up (read: inexperienced management) Central, but I see this in job ads a LOT, and it’s bizarre, right?

HSP Ethics at Work

triangular red alert sign in front of dark storm cloudSigh. Just when I was getting on my financial feet again, a big storm blew up at work, and I’m not sure my job will survive it.

This has happened before. Frequently, in fact. When an employer bad-mouthed a single parent co-worker for staying home with a sick child, I felt compelled to stand up for her. I was fired within the week (and so was she, a few months later).

I’ve  also departed from several companies over dishonest sales tactics or false promises to customers or clients. Employers salivate over my ability to connect, but become disgruntled when I decline to dishonor those connections to their advantage.

Then there have been more complex situations, involving bullying circles, or employees close to the boss who exploited that situation at the the expense of others. I haven’t always been the target in these situations, but I know what it feels like. I couldn’t stand by and watch the same thing happen to others. Continue reading