The World Overwhelms Me

I’ve mentioned that I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), but I haven’t wrote anything about how it has an impact on my day to day life. I’ve known for most of my life that I was highly sensitive just due to my emotional nature, but I didn’t know or even understand the other factors of being highly sensitive. And for many years I thought it was a flaw I needed to overcome.

When I learned in depth what it meant to be an INFJ I assumed a lot of my more complicated personality attributes were due to that. I was also in a state of denial about being an HSP because I thought I was trying too hard to find explanations for being different. I took an online quiz several times to see if I fit the description of highly sensitive and every time I fit the definition, but that wasn’t enough. So, I finally had my husband take the quiz with me and that’s when I came to the conclusion I was highly sensitive. I still didn’t understand though what it meant and how it had an impact on my life. So, I bought the book on it, and went through a wave of emotions making sense of the past and discovering where I fit into society.

When I was young I was told I was shy by a lot of people and told that I was too sensitive on more than one occasion. I was told this in a sense that it was fault and something that needed to be changed. Well, as it turns out I wasn’t shy, I was just highly sensitive, and being highly sensitive isn’t something that needs to be changed. It’s not a flaw or a weakness it can actually be a strength. Being shy is a fear you develop, but being highly sensitive is often a trait your born with. I’m not quite sure I know whether I was born an HSP or not.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with HSP’s here are some of the traits: You absorb other people’s emotions, your highly empathetic, overwhelmed by bright lights, loud noises and smells, more easily stressed and overwhelmed, rich & complex inner life, deeply moved by arts and music, annoyed when having to do too many things at once, very sensitive to pain and unpleasantly aroused when too much is happening around you.

This trait had a huge impact on my self esteem growing up and helps to explain why it was so low. In our society this trait is misunderstood and not valued even though it’s 15%-20% of the population. However, in China it is a valued trait and people who are sensitive are usually the popular ones. It makes me sad to know this. Luckily, my best friend is an HSP too, which explains why we grew so close as friends. We kind of always had this unspoken understanding that provided a stronger friendship then what other people had. Over the years we have just grown closer with friends even though she has moved across the country.

Growing up my parents would ignore all signs that I was different, even after I tried to convince my Mom with solid facts years later. She wanted me to be normal, so there for to her I was. She blatantly ignored all signs that I wasn’t. It was a difficult childhood at times because my Mom would yell a lot at my sister, my Dad, and I. I hated it when she yelled, it made me absorb all her anger and get angry myself. Yelling to me is pointless, it doesn’t help anything. I used to yell and scream so much when I lived there, and now I can’t remember the last time I raised my voice even a little. In my book it says that you need a strong bond with a parent or else you find it in someone else. I lost comfort and trust that my parents knew what I needed early on, and I felt lost for a long time, but found some comfort in talking with two of my closest friends.

My husband was that close bond I needed. I met my husband long before I understood my personality and how different I was. I was still very much struggling with my self esteem too, but he was completely intrigued by my uniqueness. Even with all my crazy little quirks and crazy in-laws he chose to marry me. He helps me to feel normal. But, also helps me to avoid getting into situations that may overwhelm me. He knows I’m different and that’s what he loves about me.

Feeling flawed for so many years still has an impact on me, but understanding why I am different and knowing there’s other people out there just like me does make it easier. But, I’m struggling lately with my emotions and I’m overwhelmed by stress. I can accept a lot of traits of being an HSP, but being easily stressed really bothers me.

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