It is not easy being a “sensitive guy.” Boys are taught early on to be tough. Be the protector. Stand your ground and don’t let anything affect you. Anything other than that is seen as weak or incapable.
“Emotions are for the womenfolk.” Men are supposed to be bigger than their feelings. While that generalization is breaking, however slowly, it is not gone yet. So what does that mean for a guy who is unafraid to show sadness or love or fear? Where does that leave him? Does he even have a place in this world? I believe he not only belongs, but he has an incredibly important place.
It is probably not my defining characteristic, but it is there nonetheless. I am painfully in tuned with the people around me. I have this understanding when I look at people. I pick up on people’s stories; I can see the pain in their eyes or the joy in their body language.
I notice the subtle cues and mannerisms. It’s nothing I do intentionally or even want to most times, but it does bring an interesting dynamic to my life. I have shared intimate moments with people from all walks of life, have been invited into incredibly intimate situations because there is an understanding that I will get it. I am an empath so I feel things deeply, and while I wasn’t sure what to do that for a long time, it has taught me a few things.
Being Sensitive Has Taught Me to Pay Attention
Whether it is a bird on my deck or the way a parent is interacting with a child, there is beauty in this life. Some of the most beautiful moments are the ones that get lost in the business of our day to day. It’s there while a couple are holding hands, stealing a moment just for themselves. It’s there when someone takes a moment to cry, hoping no one sees. There are so many things that happen right in front of us that we never even process.
Being sensitive has taught me not to only acknowledge these things, but to look for them. It has taught me to slow down and genuinely enjoy life. Some of my greatest memories have come from pushing a little deeper, by not taking things at face value and asking another question. Because I have learned to pay attention, I have learned to notice that hesitation when someone wants to get something off their chest or is telling me they are fine when they are really falling apart. It’s the subtle cues that create meaningful moments and being able to recognize those opens that door.
Being Sensitive Has Taught Me to Authentically Feel Where I Am At
My internal monologue is a roller coaster throughout the day. It is not uncommon for me to feel great joy or pain or anger all within the span of a few hours. Admittedly, I get emotional at more TV shows and movies than I would like to admit to. There have been have been many books I have had to put down for a few minutes while I go compose myself. One of the most emotional things I ever read was a Spiderman comic book. But feeling this range of emotions makes me feel alive. It makes me feel human.
For a long time, I bottled everything up. I was cool, calm, and collected at all times. I remember sitting on van with a group of my fellow interns doing an encouragement circle (it is a long story) and one of them telling me I am “steady.”
He told me over and over again that I didn’t seem to fluctuate, I was just consistent all the time. It has become somewhat of a joke in my friend circle because of how adamantly he kept reaffirming it. The irony is that I was anything but that in my head. I was all over the place and that created a lot of tension and frustration for me for a long time because it didn’t fit the idea of who I thought I should be. I have since learned to not only allow my emotions to manifest, but to embrace them. When I am in love, I am deeply in love. When I am mourning, I am mourn fully, tears and all.
When I am angry, I can face it head on and work through it. Whatever the emotion, I let it surface and experience it fully.
Being Sensitive Has Taught Me to Have Better Relationships
This is more than just romantic relationships. This is my friendships, my familial bonds, even my coworkers. It not only connects me to the people around me, but connects me to myself more authentically. Being unafraid to acknowledge that I feel things makes it easy for me to be vulnerable with the people around me. It helps me take off the armor and connect to them on a person to person level. People want to know they are not alone and that they are not the only ones feeling the way they do. That is where true connection is born and thrives.
It is because of this that I have my tribe, my inner circle. For a lot of years, I was trying to be the person that people wanted me to be instead of being myself. I was surrounded by a lot of relationships that were either superficial or were grounded in the understanding that I maintained the status quo.
Being sensitive has helped me recognize that dysfunction and connect with a group of people that not only allow me to be who I am, but that accept me even when it isn’t pretty. I have spent many nights as a drunken, emotional wreck, facing whatever break up I was dealing with or old wound that had resurfaced, but that acceptance is the foundation that these relationships are built on. It is why these people have made it through the mountains and valleys that we have come across in our shared journey.
Being Sensitive Has Made Me Stronger
Sensitivity doesn’t correlate with weakness. At the risk of sounding cliché, my sensitivity has made me a stronger man than I have ever been before. Because I know what I feel, when I feel something deeply I fight for it. I am loyal to it whether that be a conviction, a person, or what have you. My sensitivity to my own emotions and the things around me has made me more protective of the things I care about. It has taught me to balance when it is time to surrender to where I am at and when it is time to set my feet and stand my ground.
One of the best compliments I ever received was that I was equally as masculine as I was relatable and genuine. Being able to acknowledge that I am invested emotionally makes me more willing to put it all on the line for the things I love. Being able to feel anger at seeing something wrong makes it make me more stalwart in seeing it righted.
My emotions only enhance the things that make me inherently masculine.
There is nothing wrong with being sensitive to the things inside you and around you. If you are happy, be happy. If you are angry, be angry. If you notice something about someone, acknowledge it. We as humans feel things. It is the thread that connects every one of us and it is what helps us find common ground. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or naive. Allow yourself to embrace your inner sensitivity and see how much more fulfilling your life becomes.