According to a study published in the journal Brain and Behavior, 20 percent of the population is considered highly sensitive. If you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP), you’re biologically wired to be more sensitive and responsive to the world around you. Being an HSP effects lots of parts of your life, including the types of job environments you thrive in. Here are types of careers that suit your personality best.


One of an HSPs greatest gifts?

Creativity. Jobs that tap into your artistic talents whether that’s writing and graphic design or acting and singing are creatively fulfilling and often allow you to work independently while letting you share your gifts with an audience.


HSPs are typically highly intuitive and empathetic, meaning they’re great with patients in a one-on-one setting. Not all healthcare professions are suited to HSPs (high-stakes surgery, for example, is likely too stressful), but sensitive folks can thrive as hospice workers, counselors or physical therapists just as long as you’re able to maintain a healthy separation from clients.


A common misconception when it comes to HSPs: they can’t be leaders. While an HSP isn’t likely to ruthlessly claw his or her way to the top of the corporate ladder, that doesn’t mean they can’t head up a team effectively. Detail-oriented HSPs can thrive as small-business owners, since they’ll likely create a welcoming, nurturing atmosphere for employees.


OK, so this one’s broad, but self-employment is a no-brainer for an HSP. The ability to set your own schedule and work on your own terms sounds pretty lovely, no? Plus, since you’re probably pretty diligent and detail-oriented, you’ll thrive at self-motivating and keeping track of different projects you’re working on for different clients.


Many HSPs are deeply spiritual, and often take their beliefs more seriously than those around them. At the same time, HSPs are likely to be encouraging and open-minded. This makes for a potent combination in any clergy person. Of course, HSPs tend to be more intuitive than dogmatic about their spirituality, and may have to put up with a certain amount of structure to work as clergy. But that could be well worth it, especially to serve in one of the few professions where sensitivity and intuition are still valued.


Academia can be competitive, but it also tends to move at a thoughtful pace that allows HSPs to use their strengths. You get to spend part of your time doing careful, focused work where deep insights are valued. You also get to spend time teaching and helping students, but only for part of your day — and not even every day. Perhaps most importantly, you get to do meaningful work related to a topic you truly care about.

These are just a starting point. As a highly sensitive person, the best way to find a meaningful job is to think about your own  strengths and start from there, and don’t forget to pay close attention to the culture of a workplace before signing on. If you can plant yourself somewhere that feels nurturing, you’ll find that work can be fun and maybe even burnout-free.

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