For as long as I can remember, the word ‘sensitive’ held a negative connotation. It was always used as an insult or referenced as an issue. This particularly sucked for me because I am sensitive—VERY sensitive. For me, everything is personal. I cry even when I’m not sad; sometimes I don’t even know why the tears are falling, but they’re there. I care deeply about everything, and it affects me in all ways. The worst part about it, though, is that most of the time, I can’t control it.
While there are some people who are able to welcome every setback as a challenge and face it head-on, I’m the type of person whose whole world stops. I don’t adjust well to difficulty and I over-feel everything that can be felt, even if it isn’t that deep (and it’s never really that deep). I’ve been told countless times that I’m too sensitive and I shouldn’t take everything so personally. I’ve been mocked, I’ve been scolded, I’ve been ridiculed, and I’ve been shamed for my sensitivity by friends, colleagues, family, but mostly myself. There are countless moments where I wish I weren’t so delicate, that I wouldn’t let people get under my skin for the sake of it, that I could just switch it all off for a little bit, but that’s not how I was created.
I was created to feel. This seeming weakness is in fact my greatest strength. I heal. I heal through feeling it all. Every pain, every mistake, every injustice, I feel it in my whole being. In a world where there is so much prejudice, I’m glad I’m sensitive. In a world where there is so much hatred and violence, I’m grateful to be sensitive. In a world so full of people who do not care enough for others around them, I want to be sensitive. My sensitivity allows me to be compassionate and caring, it allows me to not only empathize with others but also motivates me to continue to do better and give better.
The world is constantly throwing us curve balls from every direction. Facing difficulty is inevitable. How we manage to handle, cope, and react to the challenges in our lives plays a huge role in our mental and physical health. There are no guidelines or a set playbook for how to navigate this perplexing world with its countless contradictions and enigmas. The only thing we can do is to keep facing the challenges that come our way and remember that whatever doesn’t kill us will surely make us stronger. Although this common saying is quite cliché and I won’t even lie, even I roll my eyes hearing it all the time, but I think it does hold some truth. However, I do think it’s incomplete, because in between overcoming hardship and the inevitable strength and resilience we develop, there are several moments of doubt, anxiety, insecurity, grief, anger, and multiple levels of mental breakdowns that finally lead us to the better outcome of being stronger. And that’s okay.
Being sensitive in a hard world is tough because you can’t let things go easily, you overthink everything, and you carry the entire world’s problems on your shoulders. Working on making sure that you don’t let all the emotion consume you should be an ultimate priority, and emphasizing self-care in your life to help balance out the need to always be a fixer, feeler and healer is extremely important to stay mentally and emotionally healthy. It’s not always necessary to allow yourself to be emotional and sensitive for every single thing (if you’re like me, you better read this line twice). With regards to being a sensitive person, I think it’s quite a rare quality in this world. It’s 100% necessary in this difficult socio-political period, and it’s undoubtedly a strength of note. My sensitivity is what makes me who I am, it’s the reason for all the best qualities about me. Although it is a learning process in discovering how to negotiate it in my life and to actively strive to be more emotionally balanced (and it has definitely been a journey so far), I am not ashamed or embarrassed by my sensitivity anymore, for without it, I’d be lost.
“I used to dislike being sensitive. I thought it made me weak. But take away that single trait, and you take away the very essence of who I am. You take away my conscience, my ability to empathize, my intuition, my creativity, my deep appreciation for the little things, my vivid inner life, my deep awareness of others’ pain, and my passion for it all.” – Caitlin Japa