You’re not sure if you were born sensitive, but you know that you weren’t raised on it either. If you had to guess, it’s something you’ve cultivated through a lifetime of observing the world around you, and being keenly aware of what sits well with you and what doesn’t. The smallest things can bring out your passionate and emotional side, and both positive and negative triggers occur pretty easily. You experience joy and pain on ravine-like levels, and it’s nearly impossible to hide. People can read you like the most basic map, and you can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not.
Perhaps your sensitivity goes deeper than that; part of it is how you feel, but it also has a lot to do with how you function and interact with others. You’re not the biggest fan of small talk, and large crowds become overwhelming after a while. You believe in taking time for yourself as much as you believe in socializing and spending time with others. You try to avoid violent media, loud noises, and the constant cycle of TV and the internet. Too much exposure makes you anxious and depressed, despite wanting to be aware and educated. At the end of the day, you have a lot of thoughts, most of which you have no idea how to vocalize, let alone articulate.
Unfortunately, the world typically has only one thing to say about it: STOP. Stop taking everything so personally. Stop letting temporary situations get the best of you. Buck up and chin up. Whenever the swell rises, there have been a slew of well-meaning folks who immediately attempt to shut you down, either by command or a speech about how you won’t get anywhere in life without a layer or two of thick skin. You might nod your head or try to fight back, but after it’s over a whole separate battle continues to rage on: wondering if they’re right or if you’re just misunderstood.
It could be you (to an extent), but it could also be them. This is how they were raised, and they’re simply speaking from their own experiences and what they know. A lot of people are uncomfortable with Big Feelings and Being Vulnerable, so whenever they sense it they do their best to push it away. If they can’t do anything about it (or fix it), then it’s not worth discussing. It comes from a place of frustration, of powerlessness and having little control.
And as much as you want those people to get it, it’s a waste of time and energy to try. On the other hand, you cannot just flip a switch and act like your emotional triggers and sensitivities don’t exist. It’s really about how you choose to deal with them, and whether or not you allow other attitudes and ideas to get the best of you. You can still respond calmly and maturely in an argument without holding everything in. You have every right to remove yourself from a situation if it genuinely becomes too much or if it’s too hard to hear. Get up and get out of the room. Go for a walk. Pray. Write. Whatever calms you down so that you don’t do anything regretful out of impulse or anger. Instead of stuffing it all down, find a way to acknowledge what hurts and set it free.
It’s not about proving which side is right and which side is wrong, but accepting and loving the way God made you. There are so many blessings that come with being a sensitive person—being able to actually feel in a culture that prides itself on not caring and going numb is just the tip of the iceberg. You have the ability to know when to speak and when to listen. You have a natural ability to slow down and appreciate beauty and wonder, rather than glorifying business and productivity. Compassion and empathy are practically second nature, and that’s what’s going to make you a gem in the eyes of those who are ultimately going to build you up and allow you to love yourself. Ultimately, you love deeply and without reserve; despite the risks and possible pain that come with it, it helps you to live a life of freedom, joy, and fullness.
Yes, we should always strive to improve and be the best that we can be. But don’t forget to stop and truly ask yourself if it’s for God’s glory (and your benefit), or if you’re trying to live up to others’ expectations.
The way I see it, caring too much has become an advantage more than the other way around. It means you’ve stayed true to yourself and your convictions, and gave whatever it was everything that you had. And the world needs more of that. It needs more of you.
There’s no denying that it’s tough, especially when you feel like you’re the only one (or at least one of the few). But trust me when I say that it’s worth it.
Keep going. Keep feeling. Keep living.