Career Counseling for the Neurotic
Should our neuroses factor in to our education and job choices
Posted Jun 24, 2012
Professions are often chosen due to recognition of one's strengths and weaknesses, as well as aspects of personality. Tests providing guidance in the best careers for people often rely on assessment of these characteristics and many of these tests are useful. But should your psychological symptoms guide your career choices? Apparently some say "yes!"
I came across this article that identifies the best careers for shy individuals and that recommends the path to take to pursue these careers.
As a somewhat shy person, I was intrigued. But as a therapist I was quickly horrified because the article suggested that shy individuals pursue online degrees in order to avoid contact with others and recommended careers that involve little human contact. Although this sounds fairly harmless at first, it goes against all that we know is helpful in breaking out of shyness and social anxiety.
Exposure to anxiety is key if you do not want your anxiety to guide your life. Anxiety is part of being human, but we call it an anxiety disorder when it starts to interfere in a person's life and guide the person's decisions. So if an individual is choosing jobs due to their desire to avoid social situations and the anxiety that is experienced in them, the person's anxiety is guiding the person's life and may prevent the individual from truly reaching their potential and pursuing the career that would bring them the most fulfillment.
Most shy individuals want human contact--they just fear it as well. Shy individuals often suffer from loneliness and depression because of feelings of isolation. Choosing a solitary career would only exacerbate this. Many therapists and doctors are shy individuals and their practices are built on contact with others. Their careers provide them with a way to connect with others within the context of something that they are confident about--their knowledge about their field. And nothing brings one out of their shell like confidence.
So to all of you shy people out there--choose the job you want, not the job that is dictated by your shyness.