October 26, 2019

For the Sensitive & Empathic Folks who are Running on Empty.

Yesterday, I fell apart for a good 30 minutes as exhaustion piled heavy.

Like bricks into my bones—mounting to a crescendo of tears and an unexpected intensity that rattled right through me, turning into an all-powerful migraine.


I had pushed myself too hard once again—yes—trying frantically to cram about 10 too many things into a single day without checking in with my sensitive self.

I’ve written so much about celebrating sensitivity that, sometimes, I think I should have it all figured out.

I should know how to accept the tender neon pools of emotion that swirl inside me.

I should know how to be with all that is flooded with feeling—both good and painful—every damn day.

But some days are tough. They are tattered and textured with rips and fear. I forget. I feel lost at sea with sand stuck to my feet as I breathe in the humid air, my hair and heart a mess…and also okay, in this human, crumbly sort of way.

This sweet and wild process of embracing ourselves seems to happen in seasons and cycles—where fresh insights are revealed as we go deeper into the fleshy roots and dare to see more than ever before. The learning never ends.

I love that.

And it begs the observation, the paradoxical riddle-of-sorts: how necessary it is to show up for our sensitive selves when we aren’t feeling so loving toward our own hearts. When we feel like we’ve failed.

I mean, it’s easy to breeze right through lovely articles and appreciate our sensitivity for a nice moment on a good day, but in the everyday grit of reality, it can be tough.

So I’ll tell you a secret. Sometimes when I am utterly exhausted after a long day, I slide onto the couch at 8 p.m., petting my orange cat Penny on her cute little chin—and I think to myself, Yep. It sucks to be sensitive.

It feels like a burden, a curse. It feels wildly inconvenient—like this annoying, unwieldy companion who’s always with me. Why can’t I just be “normal?” Oh, to be normal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished for that.

In those dark and low moments, I look around at other, more “normal” people and feel a stab in my gut, a hot twinge of jealousy, for I want to keep up with them.

I want to walk alongside the pitter-patter of their quick-moving steps and chatter and vibrate success.

But the truth is, I can’t keep up. I’ve never really been able to. I move slower, quieter, stranger. I want my movements to mean something. I want to surrender and feel it all. I want to pour my soul into lines of poetry and feel faint quivers of ecstasy as I dance to shatteringly beautiful pieces of piano music. I want to hold space for others’ tears and joy.

As sensitive and empathic folks, we can’t always do a thousand things in a day. We can’t just throw our bodies around and run on empty. We feel that, and what it feels like is sh*t.

We need breaks. We need spaciousness so we don’t choke on those currents of raw, swirling emotion we pick up on so easily.

We need quiet.

We need time alone. To feel. To spread our wings amongst tall spruce trees, feet resting on emerald moss to renew our root system.

We need nourishment: good food and heartfelt conversations with those who are dear to us.

We are sensitive—not fragile—and there is such strength in this.

But our sensitivity needs care.

So, these thoughts bloom in my mind tonight like an ever-growing bouquet as I slip into a hot, lavender-scented, post-migraine bath. And I wonder, is it really such a bad thing that our needs look different than other people’s?

I mean, the world roars on at a seemingly impossible to maintain fight-or-flight state. People blur through their lives and bulldoze through moments that might mean something if they stopped to open their ribcages and feel their hearts shivering with life inside.

And I think about how our softness is so welcome…

Our need for rest, our thirst for intuition, for magic and mystery, for love.

For dripping blood orange sunsets, giant cups of tea, and crying for no reason.

For the invisible things.

That are so precious, like liquid gold to our souls.

In a world that moves a million miles an hour and talks loudly, blasting us with one blaring version of success that’s intense and flashy, maybe we can create our own definitions.

Of what productivity means. Of what a good day means. Of what fulfillment and happiness mean.

Because for us, it hurts to run around like a floating head with no body. It hurts to push past our limits. Stress affects us intensely. Crowds can feel overwhelming. Loud noises can just be too damn much. And through it all, perhaps through sheer trial and error at times, we learn to swim with the currents inside us, rather than painfully against them.

Slowly, like trickling of a steady rain, we begin to value our sensitivity. To protect it.

This treasure within.

The stubborn softness we refused to let die.

The tenderness that flows through us in gushing salty waves.

We begin to care for it.

And maybe it doesn’t happen in a singular decision, but many small, beautiful ones. And perhaps there are times when we aren’t sure exactly how to love or care for our sensitive selves. And that’s okay.

But slowly, like the unveiling of a sunrise, hue by precious hue, we begin to see that our sensitivity is not a burden. Or a curse.

It births beauty. It gives way to luscious quiet, to vivid high-gloss imagination, to art, to truth, to ancient wisdom that drizzles through us when we least expect it.

So no. We don’t need to be like the ones who can soldier on without a care.

That’s fine.

But it’s not who we are.

It’s delicious to sink into our gifts.

To take care of our sensitivity.

To honor it with awe.

May we be tender with our tenderness.

To see it for what it is.

Not a burden.

But breathtakingly beautiful.

We feel so deeply.

We care so much.

May we remember





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