In an eatery tucked away in the corner of town, David and I sat at a table for two. It was a noisy, crowded restaurant, one composed of several small rooms with tables and chairs squeezed in like some kind of furniture Tetris. Old photos and mementos covered every square inch of the walls. I looked around from our tiny table and began to feel anxious and twitchy. I mentioned this to David, and he nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, not much empty space in here, is there?”
“Yeah, but I can live with it if it means a night out for just the two of us.”
A bit later David excused himself to use the restroom, and I took out my phone to check email. I noticed a new post from Tsh of the Art of Simple, one entitled “How to Travel as a Highly Sensitive Person.” I’m not sure why I clicked on the article to read as I’m not traveling anytime soon and never heard of this thing called “highly sensitive people.” Being a fan of Tsh’s words and wisdom, I perused her post anyway. And when my eyes read the following sentence, they couldn’t help but widen with curiosity:
“My entire life, I’ve felt more affected than others around me by seemingly small things—lighting, sounds, smells, violence in movies.”
Me too, Tsh, I thought to myself.
I looked up and saw my husband talking with someone he knew from work, so I clicked over to the online test Tsh referenced in her article. And out of 27 total questions that describe characteristics of highly sensitive people, I discovered 24 of them were true for me.
David came back and as he sat down, I blurted out,
“Baby! Okay, you know the way that I am?”
He looked at me and quipped,
“Uhhh, you’ll have to be more specific.”
I reply, “Like how I just mentioned the crowded tables and decor in here make me twitchy. And how I always turn off the overhead lighting in a room and use lamp light instead. And how you often say I startle easily and have a nose like a bloodhound that smells every little thing.”
“Oh that. Yep, those things about you are all true.”
I’m practically jumping out of my chair. “Well, being that way is a legit thing! I’m an HSP — a highly sensitive person!”
We talked a bit more about what that means before David took the test himself. Not surprising to either one of us, he found only 2 of the 27 true for him. We’re opposites like that.
Still, it was delightful to discover I’m not out of my ever-lovin’ mind because I am easily overwhelmed by my environment. I’m just a highly sensitive person. It’s a real thing, y’all!
(And all the HSPs said Amen!)
I wish I’d learned this sooner about myself — it would have saved me from beating myself up and apologizing for being what I thought was crazy sensitive. Now I clearly see I’m wired that way. And while this makes me more susceptible to certain pitfalls in our busy, blaring world, it also makes me a more compassionate individual who senses and sees things, things that are helpful rather than handicaps to a good life.
On this day after New Year’s, some of us are still shaking confetti out of our hair and holding both good and difficult memories from 2014 in our hands. In time, however, our thoughts will turn to what we hope to see in 2015. As I begin to pray on this to the God of heaven, I want to put into practice the words of Flannery O’Conner,
“Please help me to get down under things and find where You are.” ~ A Prayer Journal
For me, part of getting down under things is taking the time to get to know myself. At first glance, that sentence sounds mighty indulgent. But then again, the better I get to know myself, the better I give to others around me. The more effectively I use my talents and gifts to affectionately love on others in my circles.
The same fingers that flung the stars in the heavens wove your DNA into being. Just like me, you were made on purpose for a purpose. God’s hands purposely designed you as you so you could best complete the hand-picked purpose He’s designed for you.
I’m praying you give yourself the gift of joyfully discovering how these two things beautifully relate.
And when you discover this, may you joyfully discover Him.
Kristen Strong, writer at Chasing Blue Skies