The title of this blog post is a bit sarcastic because, spoiler alert, there’s nothing wrong with you! Or with me! Hooray! But no matter how true that may be and how much we may fight against the hold society has on the way we think, the fact is that if we don’t understand something, we tend to think it’s wrong.
Most of my life, I’ve been introverted. I wasn’t always an introvert and I didn’t have some traumatic experience that caused me to swing from extroverted to introverted. I simply grew more inward the older I got. (Because of this, I do foresee hermit-hood in my future. I’m okay with it.) I don’t enjoy being in crowds, nor do I like having plans to be out-and-about every weekend. I am a jammies-and-TV kind of girl.
But I am also a functioning adult with a job that requires me to interact with others on a regular basis. And the combination of my introversion and my resting bitch face has repeatedly made problems for me. Most commonly, it’s resulted in these two identifiers:
I am neither of those things. I am, however, a highly sensitive person. Now, don’t confuse this with the buzzy word combo of “snowflake” and “millennial.” I have only recently been able to put a name to my sensitive nature, after simply typing the words “why am I so sensitive” into a search engine and voila! discovering Elaine Aron and her research on highly sensitive people.
The purpose of this post is not to educate you on highly sensitive people. You’re more than welcome to do that research on your own, as I have. But I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the public at large does not know about this research. Therefore, they don’t adjust their behavior to accommodate the needs of a highly sensitive person. My coworkers do not know or understand this trait of mine that causes me to need quiet so that I can process the stimuli around me and get through the day without feeling utterly exhausted. They don’t understand that my hesitancy to participate in conversation doesn’t come from a dislike of them, but rather from a brain that processes so deeply that I just can’t get the right words out in time.
Unfortunately, this lack of understanding on their part actually requires me to adjust myself. And this is where I get frustrated. We are living in an age of tolerance, yet we still believe we have to be aggressive, loud, feisty, insert-power-related-adjective here to be successful. We have to fight and fight hard. There is no place for the quiet, thoughtful person in success. If you want to fit in or if you want to get ahead, you had better open your mouth and make a scene.
I am a performer at heart. I believe spending my adolescent years on the stage is the main reason I can overcome my sensitivity enough to play nicely with others. But on those days when I just don’t have it in me, when I’ve been stretched to my limit, when my brain cannot process one more piece of information – on those days, what I am is wrong.
Except I’m not wrong. I’m just Lauren, trying to figure things out while working with what I’ve got, same as everybody else.
Today, I encourage you to take stock of things that make you uniquely you. Even if it hurts, think about how people have made you feel wrong. Then spin it. Polish it. Dance with it. Realize that the very thing people believe is wrong about you is what makes you not wrong at all. In fact, it’s probably vital to your function within your social circle.
Not everyone is going to get you. Even the people who love you more than anyone else may be at a total loss with you sometimes. And that’s why it is so important to see yourself exactly as you are and find a way to love what you see.
Let’s get the beach ball rolling: What do you feel is “wrong” with you? How can you spin it to see it as something that’s “right” about you?