Anyone out there suffer from hay fever? I do, or did.
Thanks to the advent of non-sedating antihistamines, I no longer have to spend the end of August with my nose in a Kleenex, and I’m happy about that.
It’s no fun sneezing about 20 times in a row, and it doesn’t help you with job interviews, either.
But this post has a more direct link to career issues than that.
According to Wikipedia, allergies are a form of hypersensitivity in which people have adverse reactions to usually harmless things, like dust, pollen and cute kittens. There is a strong genetic link for allergies, although Wikipedia says recent increases in allergy rates have happened too quickly to be explained by genetics alone.
Treatment options for allergies include over the counter and prescription drugs and getting allergy shots, which I’ve done. I’ve also pursued alternative therapies, like herbal remedies and homeopathy, because I couldn’t stand the soporific effects of some very famous pharmaceuticals.
It seemed like the main way they fought hay fever was by putting you to sleep so you didn’t know how itchy and sneezy you felt. But that approach couldn’t work with everyone. As the great humorist James Thurber wrote, “I used to wake up at 4 A.M. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness.”
Have you ever felt that way at work? Young people may jokingly say they’re allergic to work but they’re not completely off-base either. Not every job or corporate culture is going to be right for everyone, and when the fit isn’t right, even innocent, mundane things can set off a complicated reaction. If you prefer a structured, button-down environment, your first Friday afternoon pizza fest could feel like a snoot full of ragweed. And if you’re a freewheeling type attending your first top-down sort of office meeting, you could leave gasping for air.
These reactions don’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or pizza or an orderly staff meeting. It just means there’s not a good match between your wiring and theirs, so you need to pursue some kind of treatment.
Avoidance is one option recommended for allergy sufferers. For instance, people that are allergic to cats would be wise not to own one. However, avoidance has its limits and it might not be practical for you to avoid your workplace. In addition, it’s never a good idea to just numb yourself out, or pretend that there is no problem.
The trick is to find ways you can stay alert and engaged without activating your overzealous sensors. This might mean being an organizer for boisterous office events, which would let you participate behind the scenes, or taking copious and snarky notes. It would indeed be worth your while to find some sort of accommodation.
After all, it beats looking for work or sneezing.
by Danielle Dresden