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Having a Thick Skin

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I have a thick skin in some ways, but in others I'm as thin as they come. I'm like a jellyfish really, all slime and wiggle, looking for an out. I suppose it could be worthwhile to never take things personally; however, I strive for balance in most things and even though I rarely achieve it, it seems to me that never caring about someone else's opinion is hardly a healthy route.

Having a thick enough skin to be able to take a joke is different than having a skin so thick you can't feel a thing if you see a child crying, an animal suffering or your loved one in pain over something wordless and vague.

Is our cultural insensitivity a balm against wanting too much friendship, acceptance, approval and loyalty? Have we opted instead for cold, calculated, emotionless interactions as our higher standard?

In my last job, my higher up would continually tell the entire staff, during bi-monthly meetings, that if we had personal issues we needed to put them aside, and that if we didn't have our "game face" on and our "all right" attitude, we were going to be going down the wrong path as far as he was concerned. I understood; I soldiered up and heard the validity of his point.

However, the nagging question remains: How thick of a skin must we develop before we feel so alienated and cut off at our jobs and at home that we don't recall the purpose of our own existence any longer?

The advent of social networking seems to me like a giant water cooler moment. A venting phenomenon where people let their skins be the right density, perhaps going a bit too far with all the personal information in a backlash against keeping their personalities on lock down for so many years.

Endless hours of productivity are wasted at job after job while people complain and vent and nag and gripe about the state of their workplace. Even those with the thickest of skins engage in this behavior. Why? Because keeping up appearances day after day is thoroughly exhausting and people need a sense of knowing who they are by bouncing their authentic feelings off of others and dropping the false self or the "thick skin" for awhile.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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