As a kid I loved spending time all by myself. I’d lock myself up in my room and read or played until mom or dad told me to come have dinner or go to bed. And when I just started going to school at age 4 I had a teacher go up to my mom, asking her if I was ‘okay’. Apparently I had put up a board against the wall during recess and didn’t really allow anyone to come inside my hut and play. Was I being antisocial or shy?
There were more things while growing up where I noticed I handled things way different than the kids around me. For example when asking my mentor at school about something class related, I caught myself fighting against tears without having any reason to cry. Other kids never cried, so this left me clueless for a really long time. Also I never really fit in with the popular girls in class, but seemed to not really understand why people would want to anyway. And when reading a book, like Harry Potter for example, and things got really scary in the story, I'd feel anxious in real life too! I really needed to process the feelings the story evoked in me!
I’m glad I’m not that age anymore. But it took me quite a while to figure out I’m not particularly cray cray. The past two years I’ve reconnected on a new level with my true self and learned that I don’t work the same way as society portrays the ‘average, perfectly functioning person’. I’m outgoing, but it costs me a lot of energy. I love spending time with people, but I can’t have shallow talks about the weather and *sigh* calories for a very long time. And I like going to parties, but I can’t stand loud noise too long and need to have some downtime somewhere quiet. I’ve been living my life being quite unaware about the way my body and mind react to certain experiences. But it’s nothing weird or new. Basically I’m what you call a ‘Highly Sensitive Person’.
HSP is a topic that’s being more and more discussed lately. That’s not strange, considering about one in five people possesses this personality trait. I feel like contributing to more HSP awareness, because I still experience struggles that I feel like I can’t explain to people who do not know much about HSP. I’d like to go into a few of my personal struggles and shine light on the bright side of HSP as well.
GREAT EYE FOR DETAIL
Yeah, I felt sorry for my boyfriend when we just got together. Whenever he made plans to surprise me, through a gift or something else, I just couldn’t help but stumble upon the evidence he thought he hid well. Bye bye surprise. Highly sensitive persons can have extremely good eye for detail. Also in photography, I use this trait to make sure I capture the details right. No weird hair piece or wrinkle in an outfit when I push the shutter.
SUPER SENSITIVE SENSES
Okay, imagine yourself in a public bathroom. You’ve just used the toilet and are now entering the wash up area, but as soon as you open the door someone with a megaphone is screaming in your ear. Oh wait, it’s not that. It’s the Dyson hand dryer. Yeah, you can laugh. To me this really sounds soooo loud, my whole body cringes and I want to cover my ears and run off. I sometimes try to ask someone to wait a few seconds until I’m gone, but I usually don’t have enough time to stop them in their routine. Which I totally understand, so I end up sitting a bit longer on the toilet and yep, I cover my ears until it’s safe for me to go out. I may seem like a total weirdo, but I shouldn’t feel ashamed. My brain is just wired a little different.
NICE WEATHER, AYE?
Invite me to your birthday party and you either catch me in the kitchen staying out of the crowd with a cosy (= small) amount of people, or I’m leading the big ass life topic discussions in the living room. Yeah, there’s no in between. Like I mentioned before, I’m not a fan of shallow conversations. I process everything with a certain depth and intensity so I’d rather sit in silence with you or go deep. I’m happy either way, but notice some people find silence uncomfortable and keep on talking. I still haven’t figured out what the best way to handle this situation is. I guess just letting people know you’re in need of some quiet time is an option. If that’s not possible or appropriate, I just move somewhere else.
CHOOSE CHEESE, OR NOT CHOOSE CHEESE?
I never really considered myself super disciplined. I don’t work out every week, I have a hard time waking up early, I forget to eat breakfast. But somewhere last year I decided to go vegan and persevering this has been very easy. I think it has something to do with the emotional intensity Highly Sensitive People experience everything. Right before I went vegan, I intensely researched how animals are being treated. As a huge empath, the more I researched, the more I came to the conclusion I strongly disagree with using animals as slaves and products. To me these deep feelings are easy to evoke when I have a choice to make: ‘eat cheese or not?’. I stop for a moment and think about a baby cow and *insert cheese making details*. Being an empath makes it easier to not choose cheese. ;)
FEAR OF MISSING OUT
When I was 17 to 22 I partied often. With a group of friends I went to our favorite club and we danced, talked and drank all night. No one knew that by the time we had to go home I finally started to feel at ease. No one knew I couldn’t lose focus on basically everything that was happening in the club at all times. No one knew that the next few days I just wanted to lock myself up and not really hang out with anyone. Now that I’m older and wiser, I know what these parties do to me. I need to recharge and be alone. And even though I don’t go to parties every week (uhm, month), the recharging still applies. I had a very busy week and today it’s Friday and this morning I decided to not go to my studio, but in stead work from home. So here I am, writing this in my pj’s and I’m slowly feeling more alive. I’m skipping a networking opportunity later today, because I feel like I’ve already done too much this week. And I’m fine with that. I don’t do FOMO.
What are your thoughts and experiences about HSP? Are you an HSP as well, or know some Highly Sensitive People? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat with you about this!
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