Saturday, March 22, 2014
Earlier this week a friend posted a link on Facebook to a page from The Huffington Post entitled 16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/26/highly-sensitive-people-signs-habits_n_4810794.html. Despite my skepticism (IT IS The Huffington Post), I clicked on the link and read on.
All my life I have felt different. Different from any other person and completely different from any other guy. I've always been so emotional and sensitive and have never been able to pin point why. My inability to manage my intense feelings has often led to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and burned bridges.
Surprisingly this article helped me much better understand myself and what makes me tick as a person. As the title mentions, it lists 16 things that are characteristic of individuals that would fall under the category of "highly sensitive."
1. They feel more deeply
I process things much differently than other people. When I ask someone how they're doing, I genuinely want to know. When someone has a problem, I want to be able to listen and help in any way that I can. It's one of the reasons I want to be a doctor. I like to get to know someone and help them. I love hugs. I love feeling physically close to those I love. I love being told that I'm loved and appreciated.
2. They're more emotionally reactive.
This morning my car wouldn't turn over and what was first thought to be my battery turns out is probably my alternator. The repairs are going to be expensive and I hate that I have to get help from my parents because I'm too broke to pay for it. I feel guilty taking any money from them, especially when they've already done so much to help me. The auto repair shop is closed till Monday and if any of you know my schedule, I'm freakin' busy. I'm going to have to rely on other people which I hate doing because I'm the most impatient person alive and I don't trust anyone enough to rely on them. I spent the better part of this morning wanting to scream, cry, and suppressing an anxiety attack.
3. They're probably used to hearing, "Don't take things so personally" and "Why are you so sensitive?"
Every conversation that I've ever been upset with someone they've told me this. Whenever someone tells me this it cuts me. I feel like it's a personal attack on who I am as a person. It's not something I can control or better yet even understand.
4. They prefer to exercise solo.
This one I register with for the most part. Exercise for me is a time that I like to think, decompress, and let out emotions. Occasionally I like to exercise with someone else for the companionship, but for the most part I like to get my routine done without interruption.
5. It takes longer for them to make decisions.
I analyze decisions for much longer than the average person. I will spend hours even days thinking about a decision, analyzing every angle to make sure it's right.
6. And on that note, they are more upset if they make a "bad" or "wrong" decision.
I tend to rake myself over the coals if I make a decision that I deem as "bad" or "wrong." I will berate myself for days, sometimes even months over something. I will tell myself things like "You're stupid," "You're a loser," or "You're a terrible person."
7. They're extremely detail oriented.
If you've spent any time getting to know me, you know that I'm extremely organized and extremely OCD. I'm a neat freak. I like my things kept in a perfect and exact order that I only understand. Making lists is calming to me. I schedule my entire life. I straighten the pillows on my bed several times in the morning while making it just to be sure I achieve perfection.
8. Not all highly sensitive people are introverts.
This rings true for me as well. I am an extrovert. I love people, I love being around people. I love to invite people to do things, I love to be invited to do things. My dad is an introvert, so I grew up in a household where people didn't come over too often. I'm the exact opposite. Once I'm established with a family of my own, I want my home to be the place where my kids and their friends hang out. I want there to be an open door policy where anyone can come over anytime and always feel welcome.
9. The work well in team environments.
I had to laugh at this one. In a work setting this is true. In the hospital a surgeon needs an anesthesiologist, the nurses, the tech, and he orderlies just as much as they need him. They all come together to work as a well oiled machine that brings the best care possible to a patient. I'm all for that. When it comes to a school setting though, I don't like putting my trust in other people when my grade and future is on the line. I'm convinced group projects are a child of hell created by professors specifically to punish students.
10. They're more prone to anxiety or depression (but only if they've had a lot of past negative experiences).
I've actually been clinically diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I take medicine for it which works the majority of the time. I'm approaching the end of the semester which means que the daily panic attacks and reevaluations of my life. Mental illness runs deep on both sides of my family, so considering what I could have inherited, I don't think I turned out too badly.
11. That annoying sound is probably significantly more annoying to a highly sensitive person.
The right side of the room in my Organic Chemistry class has this problem where they cannot shut up while Sister Stowell is talking. Not only is it rude and distracting, but it annoys me so much. I literally seize up and Sister Stowell attempts to speak over them. I can't focus on what's going on and I get angry about it.
FUN FACT: The sound of pouring liquid bothers me. I don't know why, it just does. It always has.
12. Violent movies are the worst.
A couple weeks ago I saw a YouTube video of a prank gone wrong that a friend had posted. This guy scared his friend and she ran out of the house, into the street and was run over by a car. I couldn't sleep that night, every time I closed my eyes, the video would play over and over in my head. Just thinking about it upsets me.
Disaster movies are the worse. I can't stand all the destruction and death. It gives me anxiety and makes me sad. It gives me this terrible feeling that takes a while to shake off.
13. They cry more easily.
I don't cry in public. But when I get extremely angry, frustrated, or upset, the tears come. If the meaning of a particular song resonates with me, I will cry. Acts and words of love and kindness from those I care about will cause tears to fall. I've actually always been super self conscious of this, feeling like I'm a girl because I cry. That unfortunately is the result of growing up in a chauvinistic world where emotion in men is seen as weakness. I gave it some thought and came to realize that the men that I really respect and look up to DO CRY. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, President Thomas S. Monson, & Joseph Smith. Valiant men of God. They all shed tears, express emotion, and are all men worth striving to be like.
14. They have above-average manners.
I've always been a polite kid. My mother taught me my "please" and "thank yous." For the last 5 years my family has had the privilege of living in the Southern United States where manners are a way of life. It has a had a tremendous impact on me. "Yes Ma'am" and "No Sir" are forever integrated into my speech.
15. The effects of criticism are especially amplified in highly sensitive people.
I have such thin skin. I like to pretend that nothing affects me and that I don't care what other people think, but when someone says something critical or mean to me it cuts me to my core. I hurt, and I think about it over and over and over again. It often makes me upset towards the person who the criticism is coming from.
16. Cubicles = good. Open-office plans = bad.
This one I don't relate to at all. Cubicles make me claustrophobic and depressed. Open-office plan is much more inviting because I can socialize and see what's going on.
Reading this article made me realize that I'm not crazy, I'm not weird; I'm sensitive. There's others out there just like me. I have my struggles and things that make life a bit more difficult being this sensitive, but it also gives me the ability to help and understand people in a way that many others can't. It is a blessing, not a curse.
Elder Uchtdorf in his talk Four Titles from the Priesthood Session of the 2013 April General Conference said
"While the Atonement is meant to help us all become more like Christ, it is not meant to make us all the same. Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin. We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold—that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other. This would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different from his brother, every son different from his father. Even identical twins are not identical in their personalities and spiritual identities.
I'm grateful for my ability to love and understand people so deeply. I hope that y'all can love me as I am and understand the crazy parts of a person that is highly sensitive.