Are you a highly sensitive person? Highly sensitive people tend to experience the world with more intensity. It’s like our emotions easily get turned up on high. We feel more, of everything. We have a hard time letting go of what other people might think or say.
I’m no psychology expert. I may be completely wrong. I can’t know for sure that other people don’t feel the same way I do. Some people might feel uncomfortable even talking about it.
This is just who I am how I feel deep down inside.
Read my dirty little secret about the way I used to be:
The Highly Sensitive Child
Growing up, I was a shy kid.
All through school, I never got into a single fight.
I always did what I was told.
The one time I got my name written on the board in elementary school, 4th grade, my eyes welled up as I held back the tears.
After class, I explained to Mrs. Kruthoff, between sniffles, that I was only helping a friend spell. He was the one who asked.
Mrs. Kruthoff was easily the nicest teacher in the whole school. I assume that’s why she decided to erase my name, even though I was wrong.
This year, I’ve been digging through my childhood memories and old relationships, just trying to figure some stuff out.
As an adult, I began seeing myself as someone who’s hardwired to be highly sensitive and empathic.
The author of Dying to be Me, Anita Moorjani, says that people who are super sensitive, people who are empaths, are susceptible to becoming “doormats”.
She said that we become so obsessed with meeting others’ expectations, constantly seeking others’ approval and acceptance, that we lose track of who we are and what we believe in.
Everything she said was me. That part was liberating.
Being compared to something that lays flat on the ground, limp, there for the purpose of wiping the dirt off your shoes–
I wasn’t insulted.
It bothered me because I knew she was right.
Growing up, my best friend lived directly across the street. Let’s call her Jonie. And for the record, Jonie is a girl.
In our neighborhood group of kids that played night games, Jonie was ‘big’ and I was ‘little’.
When it was just me and Jonie playing together, I remember she called all the shots. If Jonie wanted to play school in the back porch, we played school.
Even when Jonie mixed up condiments from her fridge for me to try, like concoctions of Grey Poupon and Worcestershire sauce, I didn’t say no and mean it.
There was always a running joke between our families that Jonie and I would eventually get married.
The Highly Sensitive Adult in Love and Relationships
Now that little, quiet boy is 39, almost 40, living on the other side of the world.
For the past five years, I’ve been in a loving relationship with a strong-willed girl who’s decisive, and on occasion tells me what to do.
And I listen.
I can count the number of times I’ve said no to her on one hand.
Then it finally hit me…
The words came to me in my dream this morning when I woke up.
In all the relationships in my life, I’ve taken the path of least resistance.
To escape from conflict, criticism, disappointing others, and disapproval, I let my life’s path be shaped by the opinions of others.
I sought praise and acceptance and avoided discomfort.
I valued myself based on what I perceived other people thought about me.
It’s true, my emotional hardwiring may be overly sensitive. But I’ve learned that it’s more than that– I don’t have to react the way I do.
Some people might say I’m thinking way too much about it. I don’t have to understand everything.
What I’ve learned about Being “Too Sensitive”
Still, I have to believe I’ve been lead down this path for a reason.
This is what it’s taught me…
It’s ok. Who you are, the way you are…everything. It’s all ok.
The opinions of others are just that, opinions of others. Your boss, your lover, the president of the USA, a billionaire– no one is any more or less deserving or right than you.
The rest is simple.
Fear lead me down this path to teach me my life’s greatest lesson so far:
to get up off my butt, to stand tall.
See, look! You aren’t a doormat after all.
You’re a Matt, with two t’s, meant to be just the way you are,
and above all, true to yourself.