I’ve wanted to write a more personal, ‘get-to-know me’ post for a while, and I thought long and hard about what I wanted it to be about. Did I want to write about an experience, a memory, a deep dark tale of mystique, revenge, and tapioca pudding? Nope, not today. At least not yet (I unfortunately do not have any savage tapioca stories as of yet, but if I do, I’ll let you guys know). However, what I am going to talk about is something that has taken me a long time to accept about myself, mostly because all my life it was usually used as an insult. Here’s the thing: I’m sensitive. I know it. And finally, after years of growth and self reflection, I’ve accepted it and have come to love and cherish this powerful trait that won’t be going away anytime soon. But it hasn’t always been easy, as the road to self acceptance hardly ever is, and I want to share my story in any way I can so that someone might relate to it or feel better about themselves. So let’s go, my fellow sensitive sweethearts!
“Why are you so sensitive?” “Stop being such a baby.” “Why do you take everything so seriously?” “You need to stop being so sensitive.” These are only some of the oh-so loving sentiments and inquiries you hear when you’re a sensitive human. As a grown up you can hear them and realize that they’re coming from the other persons lack of emotional maturity and inability to process other peoples feelings in a healthy, supportive way; but as a child, they’re soul crushing. For me, it hurt more than anything in the world. It felt like someone was looking straight into my hurt and insecurities, violently grabbing them, and throwing them right back in my face. And it doesn’t just come from random kids on the schoolyard, it comes from friends, adults, and parents, pretty much everyone that has immense power over your self worth, especially as a child. And the worst part is that you start to believe that something is actually wrong with you, that this core part if you is an identity deficiency. You ask yourself: why am I like this? Why do I feel this way? Everyone else seems to be able to handle their emotions just fine. Why can’t I just be normal? You start to believe that everything you feel is invalid and excessive, because that’s essentially what people are saying when they make those type of statements. But being sensitive isn’t a flaw, it’s a strength, especially when it’s coupled with confidence.
And for people who don’t know, here’s what it’s like to be sensitive (from my perspective): You feel nearly every emotion in a day. You feel happy, worried, curious, connected, horny, satisfied, confused, lonely, anxious, restless, calm, insecure, angry, playful, apathetic, the list goes on. You’re feeling those emotions intensely, every day, each one getting cognitive stage time and needing to be individually addressed. Sometimes they mesh together in layers of feeling, while others are screaming and drowning out every other emotional voice. You’re easily susceptible to the world around you, with each environment subtly seeping into you until you move on to the next one. You’re not only extremely aware of your own feelings but of the feelings of others. If they’re excited, your voice starts to heighten and you are naturally energized. If they’re pissed off, your body starts to clench and stiffen, responding to the aggression in their face and tone. You’re trying to be conscientious of other people’s emotions, while also processing one’s own. It’s like turning up the volume on a car stereo. Everyone has a song playing, but some people’s song is louder, with more discernible notes, sounds, and complexities, which makes it harder to ignore. It’s like having the volume dial permanently set at 100, while someone else with a dile 0f 60 goes, “Why is your music so loud?” And you’re like, “I don’t fucking know! I can’t help it.”
And unfortunately, I think many people, including myself, have been made to feel resentful of their sensitivity because it’s so often affiliated with weakness. But being sensitive is a gift, and it’s something that not everyone gets when they’re internal selves are being curated by whatever biological force that decides, “Hey, you’re gonna be sensitive, and you, you’re gonna be super good at building bird houses.” It’s something that you are, it’s in your soul code, and it’s so valuable. Being sensitive means feeling incredibly hard, and though the lows can be low, the highs are so high. When you have a meaningful moment with a friend, you feel the love and appreciation surging through your entire body and heart. The love can move you to tears. When you have a silly, seemingly inconsequential interaction with a stranger, you feel connected with them on such a pure, human level that you think about it for days. You hope they’re happy. You hope they’re alright. You care about people, you empathize with them, you don’t want to be the one that hurts them. Because you realize how much the tiniest moments can affect someone. You laugh hard, cry hard, think a lot, doubt a lot, you’re perfectly content, you’re on the edge of a breakdown, then you’re fine again. Being sensitive takes heaps of personal work, but you’re used to it, this constant stream of emotions and awareness. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because it’s what makes me, me.
So embrace it lovelies! Be confident in yourself how you are, and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed of your sensitive little selves. Yes, you have to be aware that people are different. You have to accept that people will have feelings and opinions that combat yours. Don’t take criticism as an attack, but as an opportunity for growth. Be open, be willing to be soft, and be honest about yourselves. Because you’re the only one who has the ability to express what’s truly in your heart.
“If you are sensitive, you have the ability to see colors and feel energy the way others hear jet planes. The world takes on a rich tapestry of immense gorgeousness at almost every turn, which then fuels your imagination and makes you spin with aliveness. And aliveness is a grand thing.” – Victoria Erickson