Sensitive People Aren’t Flawed. They’re Just Misunderstood
There’s nothing wrong with you, even if the world doesn’t understand that
Every so often, I seem to need a day to just do nothing.
Today was that kind of day.
I spent the entire day doing stuff for me — watching interesting and enlightening documentaries, sitting quietly on the couch with a cup of coffee or tea doing absolutely nothing, and going for a slow evening walk in the dark.
In the past, I would have viewed this kind of a day as wasted time, and would likely have ended up beating myself up for accomplishing so little and being so lazy.
But today was not the day for that.
Today, I needed to rest. My mind, my body, and my soul simply needed space to breathe and to just be, without doing anything or rushing anywhere or being “busy.”
Take care of yourself, because no one else will (or can)
As I become more aware of how to care for myself and my personality traits of introversion and high sensitivity, I am also aware of how little these particular characteristics are valued in our society, and how much they are actually looked down upon by society in general.
I am now aware that I’m someone who needs these kind of “down days” or alone time to function at my best, but they’re not something I readily and openly share, because admitting this need is generally not well received.
People tend to think you are just lazy, a slob, or privileged in some way, as if having a mental break is a luxury afforded only to some.
“Oh, it must be nice to sit around all day,” they say. “I don’t have the time for that.”
Others simply shame you for it.
“You took a day off because you were feeling overwhelmed!? Wow. I’d never be able to get away with that.”
These are the people who tell you they just “suck it up and get on with life.”
Not only do they not understand, but they also then make you feel inferior to them, as if you are too weak to function and don’t have the strength required to “just get on with it” like the rest of the world does.
The danger in this comparison
If we’re not careful, sensitive people can be made to believe that maybe there is something wrong with them, and that maybe they are just too weak and emotional.
We start to blame ourselves and feel less than that person who functions through brute force.
We try to change ourselves into non-sensitive people, mimicking others who seem to thrive on the overstimulation that exists in the world today.
But because we’re not made for that world, we wind up getting sucked into the whirlpool and dragged down, kicking and screaming and out of control.
Our emotions rise up and eventually we lash out, and all of a sudden we’re drowning in a pool of our own creation, wondering why we can’t cope anymore.
Sensitivity is not a flaw
In a film I watched recently about sensitivity, psychologist and author Elaine Aron argued that sensitivity is not a flaw in human beings; it’s just a personality trait that is misunderstood and disrespected.
About 20% of the population has this trait, yet it remains completely disregarded in the fast-paced mainstream society we live in.
This leads to members of this group who have this type of personality feeling misunderstood, disconnected, and undervalued in the workplace for the most part.
I can resonate with this feeling of confusion and discomfort in the world of work, having changed jobs dozens of times already in my 30 years.
I’ve always found finding the right career a challenge, and therefore move from job to job often, trying new things and making new paths.
I’m looking for something different
I’m looking for what feels right to me — something that aligns with my personality, but also something that aligns with my values and the greater good.
I can’t settle for a downtown office job with a fancy title and high pay.
I’m not saying that’s wrong; that’s just not me.
It doesn’t suit me, and I can’t make it suit me no matter how hard the world tries to convince me that it’s the “right” path. It suits plenty of other people and if that’s what they want — then by all means they should go for it!
Not me, though. I want more than that.
I want something that reflects me and what I believe in.
I want to work somewhere that respects me and understands me, and where I believe I am doing work that matters to people and that makes a difference in the world.
I need more meaning.
I realize that if I can’t find it, I may have to create it for myself.
I may not have all the answers or know how to do that yet, but I’m okay with that.
If it’s important to me, I will find a way.