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What It Means to Be a Highly Sensitive Person

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You’re too sensitive.

You’re too thin skinned.

Oh, my god, are you crying again?

You’re overreacting.

Just get over it.

You’re too soft-hearted.

You wear your heart on your sleeve.

Don’t take things so personally.

Get out of your head.

Growing up, being sensitive was not a strength. It was shameful evidence that there was something wrong with me. I was different. It wasn’t safe to have or express emotions, but I couldn’t hide them completely. I just tucked them away into little boxes within myself until I went to bed at night when it was safe to let them out. I emptied out all the boxes, except for anger. That one was shut tight for years.

The shame of being emotional followed me into adulthood. I hated the depth of my feelings, how my body instantly responded with tears before I realized what had happened. I cursed my emotions and how they clung to me and touched everything I said and did, how they controlled me and how heavy they were to carry around. It made me feel weak. Forever the crybaby.

Even today, I’m easily overwhelmed, and it feels like a tornado in my tummy. My heart is easily broken. I feel every pull of my heartstrings. I feel everything — the energy when I walk into a room, other people’s heartache, moods that are not my own, worries that are not mine to carry. I can sense when something is wrong and am frustrated when I can’t fix it. I notice little things that are easily overlooked. Feeling so much is exhausting.

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Recently, I scrolled through YouTube and an animated video caught my eye — 8 signs you are a Highly sensitive Person (HSD) by Psych2Go. It led to other videos about being highly sensitive. Each sign described me, as if the videos were home movies that chronicled my life. There are others like me.

Just knowing there is a name for it is a relief — what makes me different is special and a strength, not a shameful defect. Knowing that feeling deeply, having incredible empathy and compassion for others, being able to read someone else’s emotions, connecting to people and being a good listener are super powers. It’s genetic.

Being highly sensitive fuels my creativity. My emotions are the ink I use to string written words together. It’s not enough for you to read the words. I want you to feel them. I want them to live inside of you for a little while. Being a Mighty contributor allows me to share my creativity with you — an invitation to experience my life.

Please consider following me on The Mighty and my blog, Forever Sassy.

Getty image by Ponomariova_Maria

Originally published: October 23, 2020
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