Discovering I am a highly sensitive person was a revelation.
Growing up, I had a hard time relating to other kids.
I heard over and over, “You’re so sensitive!” I had extreme anxiety.
I was diagnosed with ADHD. I lived in a big city and never felt comfortable. The only place I truly loved and felt at peace was when we went to my grandmother’s house in the summer, in a small town by the beach.
That was home to me.
Part of me really doesn’t like labels but the highly sensitive part of me was completely saved by identifying myself as a sensitive person.
I didn’t hear the term until I was in my 30s.
Elaine Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person has helped many sensitive people gain a better understanding of themselves.
However, in typical ADD fashion, I first heard the term Highly Sensitive Person and Googled it. I found a bunch of blog posts on the subject and as I read them, I was flooded with feelings of “coming home.”
They were describing me.
It explained why I felt allergic to life so much of the time. I always felt like I had a huge handicap that other people didn’t seem to have.
Many highly sensitive people can relate to one or all of the following:
Feeling overwhelmed by social situations and crowds.
Needing massive amounts of time alone.
Intuiting other people’s moods and in many cases, absorbing them.
Intense empathy and deep emotions.
Being in a city can feel oppressive and overwhelming.
Depression and anxiety can be common companions.
You soak up your environment and the energy around you like a sponge.
For years, it was the highly sensitive part of me that seemed to “ruin” my life.
In addition to all the sensitive stuff, I’m also highly excited by life.
I’m very entrepreneurial and filled with ideas of things I want to do, be and see.
I love travel. I love working. I love people.
My efforts to accomplish big things in this life were often derailed by sudden feelings of overwhelm, where I would withdraw from the world and hide. I would shut down and abandon any project or job I had at the time.
Over time, as my dreams crumbled amidst another “highly sensitive” episode, my belief in myself plummeted and I came to believe that I was a failure.
I created a very strong story that I would never succeed at anything because I just couldn’t deal with life.
Understanding how I operated was the first key to setting myself free.
Accepting it was the second.
Learning what gifts come with being highly sensitive was third.
Accepting it was the hardest part. After all, I wanted to be someone who could just go, and go and go.
I spent a lot of time feeling resentful of the people who could show up for things consistently. I finally realized that I could be the person who went for it, who showed up and lived life fully; I just required some maintenance.
Self-care became my crucial daily practice.
Now that I’ve got the self-maintenance piece in place, I am finally able to live as my best self.
My confidence is high; my career is meaningful and thriving. I have begun to fully appreciate all the amazing gifts that come with being highly sensitive and the best part is that I really like myself.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Instead of seeing all the parts of it that make life hard, I am able to focus on all the beauty.
I can connect with people on a very deep level.
I am highly intuitive.
I see beauty everywhere.
I engage all of my senses when I’m doing anything at all.
Music is a spiritual experience.
I’m highly compassionate.
I’m intensely creative.
I feel very deeply. While that means that things can rock me, it also means that when I’m feeling good, I’m feeling blissful and totally at peace.
I’ve spoken to people who aren’t “sensitive” and it opens up fantastic conversations.
Unless you’re highly sensitive, it’s really difficult to “get.” That’s okay.
It’s been said that one in six people are highly sensitive. Many of us are the artists, the musicians, the healers, the intuitives, the poets and the writers.
But we can also be the scientists, the lawyers or the physicians.
Every highly sensitive person is unique and we’re not all sensitive in the same way. Some of us are extroverted, while some of us are introverted. Some of us are more empathic than others.
There are also 50 Shades of Sensitive—some of us are more sensitive than others.
If you’re highly sensitive, self-care is essential.
It is what will allow you to find freedom and help you thrive.
I also urge you to connect with other people who get you.
I spent most of my life thinking that something was wrong with me or that I was broken in some way. It can feel lonely if you’re busy being highly sensitive all by yourself.
Mostly, I hope you can take the time to appreciate how special you are and that this doesn’t have to feel like a handicap.
Being highly sensitive can be a gift and the world needs us.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Cortney Chaite
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock