I am a 32-year-old single female INFJ UX writer. I work in an open office in a large corporation. I’ve worked there for about 6 years. I also identify as an HSP, as most INFJs would. I know you are going to freak out at me and tell me I need to get married and start a family, stat. And that since I’m unmarried and over 30, I’m probably autistic. I’m working on dating but haven’t met the guy I want to marry yet! I am trying to break the cycle of ending up with manipulative, emotionally abusive men.

Anyway, when I was 27-28 I became very sick and only when I went to a naturopath did I find out that I basically have a chronic illness and essentially, chronic fatigue syndrome. Because of this, I have to be very careful about managing my stress, diet and lifestyle. Any little tweak can send me into flareup mode, and I effectively have to take a few days “off.” I can’t be too social, push myself too hard or sometimes even go to work. This occasionally makes it hard to date, and I hate that I can’t be my best self.

I’ve found when I work from home a few days a week, I feel much better. Because of the collaborative nature of my job that often requires in-person interaction, it is hard to do that anymore — and everywhere I’ve interviewed, it has been the same sentiment (I haven’t asked but it’s been implied.) If I go on a relaxing vacation near salt water, I feel great. If I go home to Wisconsin, I feel pretty good as well. (Nature is good for your immune system, as I’m sure you already know.) There are times I really do feel vitality and health (and people even comment on it!) but just not when I am at work 5 days a week. (I hope this doesn’t sound entitled; I know few people like going to work 5 days a week, but for me it is extra draining, and I struggle with it a lot more than the average person due to illness and being an HSP. And you don’t have to remind me that I’m childless so I have even less stress to complain about.)

I like my job, and I’m good at it. I make a decent salary, more than I ever thought I’d make as a writer. I have a pension, which I know is nearly unheard of these days. I like that my job provides me somewhat of a built-in social network, as so many of my friends are disappearing by moving to other cities or getting married. Since I’ve been there 6 years, I keep looking to move on. I basically need to move jobs to get a promotion. I have a really great work-life balance: I only work 40 hours a week, I don’t check my email at home, I get 5 weeks of vacation, and if I need to leave a little early for whatever reason, no one bats an eye. Everywhere I’ve interviewed, this is not the case.

I consider myself very lucky. I used to work at a major PR firm which I think is where a lot of my chronic illness issues stemmed from — it was very toxic, stressful and combative, and I know now that I cannot handle that type of environment. But I’m unsure if even my current situation is the best thing for my health right now. I keep having flareups. I have to take time off to recover until it happens again. I often have to sneak off in the middle of the day to take naps. But I know that I’m lucky that I can even do that. We had a reorg recently, and I’m on too many projects and in too many meetings, which is making me more stressed and causing more frequent flareups. I work in tech, and sexism and sexual harassment takes a daily toll, especially in an open office where I feel like I have to constantly be protecting myself. This isn’t helping either. I know and do all the stress-management techniques, and I keep wondering if I should look for a remote job or part-time remote job. But I’m afraid I’d feel really isolated.

Oh and my real dream? To be a novelist. I have several side writing projects that I work on outside of work. I have hobbies that I like to do for fun. I love animals and would like to get a dog but can’t in my current apartment due to restrictions. I’m considering moving, but the stress of moving will likely set my stress back too.

Do you have any advice on what I should do about work? Without sounding like a gold-digger, getting married and being able to quit and work part-time would be ideal, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards at the moment. So what should I do?

6 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    You don’t sound like a gold digger when you say you want to get married. You sound practical. I think a big thing you have to offer in a marriage is depth and kindness, and there are many people who are great at earning money but are looking to add depth and kindness into their life. I don’t think you’ll find a job that is good for chronic fatigue. The biggest problem with chronic fatigue is you need to be able to rest when your body requires it, and a regular job doesn’t provide that flexibility. Even a work-from-home job doesn’t really provide enough flexibility because there are still deadlines.

    I think you should be more clear and direct in trying to get married. I think if you had a plan and you were confident about how to present yourself and your situation to potential dates, then I think you’d be much more successful at finding a husband. Once you’re married, writing your novel is a realistic thing to do, and you would be saving all your energy for your spouse instead of spending it on dealing with co-workers. And that’s a much better use of the precious energy you have.

    I coach a lot of people on how to make a personal shift to do better in the dating market. So much of dating is how you present yourself and the story you tell about yourself. Just like job hunting, you need to be clear on what you offer and what you want. And when you get to that point of clarity, the right people start coming to you.

    Penelope

    Reply
  2. Loretta
    Loretta says:

    I’m an INFP with chronic fatigue and Penelope is spot on here.

    Working (also in tech) became increasingly impossible for me, I relate completely to the draining effect you describe of working with others.

    I married at 37 an ENTJ workaholic and now I am at home and do very little paid work and can focus on my myriad interests when I’m not resting, which is a LOT.

    My husband loves having someone quiet, emotionally nurturing and creative taking care of the domestic front while he battles the world. He is completely unconcerned about whether I work or not. Two workaholics make for a bad relationship.

    Being creative, sensitive and deep can be a powerful attraction to those who are rational and tough. Lean into it for sure. You can bring a lot of value to their hardbitten world! I hope you can find someone!

    Reply
    • Ellen
      Ellen says:

      Your response made me cry. It feels so good to be understood, appreciated and not judged for not wanting to work/health issues. Your story about your marriage gives me hope. Thank you :D

      Reply
      • Jenna Malouf
        Jenna Malouf says:

        I have a boyfriend who does not work, and I work as much as I can. We spend a lot of time together, and he 100% supports my work – he takes care of ALL the domestic chores, does my laundry, makes the beds etc. He’s the nurturer, I’m the worker, and it’s a balance we both love. This is not about male-female or societal roles, but what works for our individual priorities. When he’s not doing chores, he’s drawing/colouring/building things, and when I’m not working, I join him :)

        Reply
  3. Aneta
    Aneta says:

    UX writers are in high demand right now but not many companies can afford to have one on staff. Why don’t you try doing what Penelope does. Package your skills in a form you can sell to people who want to DIY their UX writing, such as an online course or an ebook. This way you won’t need to worry about deadlines and taking breaks from work whenever you need. Penelope has a course on how to do that: “Launch an Online Business”. Amy Hoy’s blog is another good resource and I highly recommend her courses.

    Reply
  4. jessica
    jessica says:

    My mother is an infj with high anxiety.

    Your post sounds exactly like her. She married an ENTP who worked in finance, and then stayed home after earning her MBA, because she loved school.

    She divorced after her kids left the nest, got on some anti anxiety meds and built her freelance executive assistant business online. She makes six figures now. When clients fire her it doesnt matter because her reputation online is so good she always gets I inquiries. Her jobs also let her get to know a myriad of people from around the world in many industries.
    She has an entire network ‘out there’.

    It took her 3 years to build this up. Maybe look into doing this part time around your office work. She had to quit everything to focus on it though because of her need for 95% alone time and recharging. She is always hyper vililgant needing to protect herself from perceived slights as well. Working from home has saved her.

    It’s very hard to stay home and be a writer and make money. If you can solve the sales side of your book, you’d be good to go. That’s the hardest part and why so many don’t succeed.

    Just last week my mother said,’I think I’m going to write a book now.’

    ;) good luck!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *