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It’s the end of your work day.
You come home, throw your purse on the ground, and plop on the couch. This is where you’ll spend the rest of your evening.
Why? Because your job is draining the life out of you. You don’t want to interact with anyone and can’t even muster the energy to do your hobbies.
It’s not that you’re incapable of doing your job, and it’s certainly not because you’re lazy (well, maybe sometimes).
If your job is consistently draining you, it’s because it doesn’t suit your introversion.
So how do we find out if our jobs are right for us?
Take a look at these 7 ways your job might be draining you and decide if it’s time to make a career switch.
Related Read: 19 Absolute WORST Jobs for Introverts That Cause Burnout
What does it mean to be “drained”?
First off, we need to talk about what we mean by “drained.”
If you’re drained, it means that your energy has been completely depleted, and you’re experiencing not just physical but emotional effects as well.
Two common culprits are social burnout (experiencing too much social interaction) or being in a busy environment for too long and being over-stimulated.
A more informal term for this is what we call an “introvert hangover”.
When you’re drained or have an introvert hangover, you’ll often experience one or more of the following things:
- physical and mental exhaustion
- inability to think clearly
What we’re on the lookout for is whether or not your job leaves you feeling some of these things EVERY day (or even most days). If so, it may help to figure out the exact reasons why and whether or not those aspects of your job can be changed.
Why do introverts get drained?
The reason why introverts become drained in certain situations, is because there are physical differences between introverts’ and extroverts’ brains.
Introverts respond differently to dopamine than extroverts.
When an extrovert is conversing with colleagues at work, dopamine is released and the extrovert’s brain thrives on this. The chemical rush of happiness and pleasure flows through them. They’re just buzzing and soaking up all that social energy around them.
Introverts on the other hand, respond differently to the exact same situation and those same levels of dopamine.
Introverts’ brains are more sensitive to dopamine. This can result in them feeling overly-stimulated by these situations.
Suddenly we aren’t just sitting in the office chatting to colleagues: we’re standing on the surface of the sun getting burned alive.
Introverts counter the effects of dopamine by basking in the glow of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is similar to dopamine—both are neurotransmitters linked to pleasure.
Except unlike dopamine, acetylcholine shifts our thinking inward. Acetylcholine gives us the ability to shut out the chaotic world and focus on just one thing. We can think deeply and fuel our extended moments of introspection and reflection.
Introverts feel happiness and pleasure when we’re lost in our own thoughts, just like extroverts feel when chatting people up at a party.
Introspection is necessary for us in order to feel happy and be energized enough for the rest of life’s demands.
7 Ways Your Job is Draining You
Now that we’ve got our definitions down, let’s take a look at 7 ways your job is draining you. Pondering these will help you determine whether or not your job suits your introversion.
1. You’re not in control of your time and tasks.
When our time is interrupted by unexpected tasks that we’re assigned, or customers we have to talk to, or surprise meetings we must attend, this can be especially draining for us introverts.
Any sudden changes to our schedules or unannounced interruptions rob us of our quiet time and take away control over our days.
If your workplace is throwing curve balls at you all the time, it may be too high-energy for you. In those workplaces, it’s challenging to keep our thoughts centered and be productive.
Fix: Block out time to do different types of tasks like checking emails, responding to phone calls, etc. Try to block schedule a balance of high and low energy tasks throughout the day to boost productivity and utilize your energy (and time) well.
2. Your work environment is too busy.
The office or environment in which you work every day might just be too busy, noisy, or chaotic.
For example, if your company uses an open floor plan layout, then you’re surrounded by people chatting, papers shuffling, phones ringing, heels clicking—a whole range of auditory interruptions.
Trying to work in a noisy, busy office significantly drains most introverts.
Fix: Try to find a quiet space to work, even if that means leaving your desk and working in an empty meeting room.
Related Read: 17 Perfect Jobs for Introverts That Won’t Drain You
3. You’re socializing too much.
You step one foot into the office and your colleague runs up to you asking excitedly, “Did you see that email that was sent out?!”
You had planned on reaching your desk, sipping your coffee, making your daily to-do list…but now you’re locked into a 30+ minute conversation first thing in the morning.
Social exhaustion is the most challenging aspect of work for introverts. In most careers, we simply cannot avoid interacting with people throughout the day; it’s a requirement of the job.
And a lot of times we’re guilty of switching on our extroverted side, chatting away, and allowing ourselves to be drained later.
Fix: Socializing with colleagues (who are often also our friends) is a good thing and can keep depression or anxiety at bay. But make sure you’re checking in on your energy levels and giving yourself some quiet time too.
4. You’re not finding ways to be alone.
This is related to the previous points, but it’s worth repeating: your job is probably draining you because you’re not finding ways to be alone.
Escape the chaotic office space and seek refuge in a quiet place. Maybe it’s the café across the street, or an empty room on the floor…wherever you can claim as yours!
Fix: Find places where you can be alone, even if that means extended bathroom breaks! Go somewhere where you can just pause your day and breathe.
5. Your job isn’t inline with your personal values.
Introverts hate small talk. Instead, we typically prefer deep, meaningful connections and conversations with people.
If your job requires you to “play a role” that makes you uncomfortable and hide your personality, then it might not be inline with your values.
Another example might be if you’re selling a product or offering a service that you yourself don’t believe in. You’re being forced to hide your true opinions or feelings from managers and customers.
During our moments of introspection, conflicts between our personal values and our company’s values can cause enormous stress, anxiety, and depression. We risk feeling unfulfilled and made entirely unhappy by our work. This can lead to harmful effects on our mental, emotional, and social health.
Really take a moment to think about what your company values, how it treats its customers/clients, and what it values in its employees. Do these things match your values?
Fix: You shouldn’t change your personal values for the company you work for; the two should go hand in hand. The only solution to this problem is to seek out a company that’s more inline with your values.
6. Your job doesn’t utilize your skills and strengths.
As introverts, our strengths, weaknesses, and skills are different to those of our extroverted colleagues.
Introverts bring a variety of strengths to the workplace. We tend to be:
- excellent listeners
- good writers
- careful decision-makers
Not to mention all our unique talents we bring to the table!
Work that doesn’t give us opportunities to exercise these skills and abilities will leave us unfulfilled and drained. It shows us that our company or role requires us to perform tasks that aren’t naturally suited to us. Hence, the drain!
Fix: Look into roles within your same company that might suit your abilities better. Or, switch to a different company that will offer you greater chances to play to your strengths.
Related Read: 43 Creative Money-Making Ideas for Introverts
7. You don’t see results for all your efforts.
There’s nothing worse than putting every ounce of your energy into something and not seeing the concrete results of your efforts.
Introverts don’t need external recognition or awards, no pats on the back or that employee of the month award. Ewe. That sounds absolutely awful.
We’re usually self-motivated and enjoy seeing (actually seeing) the results of our attention to detail and problem solving. That is the reward for us.
So if your job has you feeling like you’re leaving tasks unfinished, or not to the best of your ability, or maybe someone else it taking all the credit, then you’re not feeling the reward for all your hard work.
Fix: This could be as simple as a mindset shift or as drastic as a career change. Depending on how much or little you feel rewarded for your work will determine the fix.
If you see results most of the time and are just frustrated occasionally, you may just need to shift towards more positive thinking and focus on the outcomes you can see and take more pride in those.
However, if you feel as if you’re struggling to see exactly what you’ve accomplished, then you’ll feel stagnant and as if you’re not progressing. You would benefit most from finding a job that gives you that satisfaction.
We’re all at different points on the introvert/extrovert spectrum and all respond differently to different work environments and careers.
So it’s important to determine whether your job is draining you and leaving you with an introvert hangover daily, weekly, or just occasionally.
If you’re drained too frequently, then it’s time to reassess whether or not it’s a good fit for you.
I know firsthand what it’s like to do a job that doesn’t suit my introversion and experience the toll this takes on myself and others.
We introverts must take our energy needs into account and seek out careers that align with our introversion.
Not only will we better utilize our strengths (and start to close the income gap between introverts and extroverts), but most importantly: finding less-draining jobs will give us more energy to spend time with the people who matter most to us, and allow us to be our happiest selves.