What It’s Really Like Being a Highly Sensitive Person
Hi, my name is Sarah Kaminski, and I’m an HSP.
No, not a hosted service provider, or Harry Severus Potter (how many of you can correct me here?).
HSP stands for Highly Sensitive Person, and it is just what it sounds like: a person who feels things more deeply and intensely.
About 15–20% of the population is believed to be HSPs; and while some of the telltale signs might be similar, HSP is neither anxiety, depression, nor autism. It’s a completely normal state, neither a disease nor a disorder, but it does make life a little bit more challenging.
How can you know if you’re an HSP?
There are many signs you can look out for if you feel you might be just like me.
Personally, I’ve always been aware of the depth of my own feelings, but I thought everyone was the same. Only after overcoming puberty did I come to terms with my “differentness”.
Let me give you a brief glimpse into my mindset, and maybe we can help each other out:
I need time for myself
This may sound like being an introvert, but it’s more than that.
After a long day at work (or once upon a time at school), I need to isolate myself and be alone with my thoughts and feelings so I can process them properly. I will often feel completely emotionally and mentally drained once I get home, having been exposed to so many experiences and stimulants during the day.
I am tense and jumpy
Loud noises literally make me jump. Whenever someone rings the doorbell, I very literally jump out of my seat and need a minute to calm down.
The same goes when I’m outside – car horns, bicycle bells, and all the sounds and even smells of the outside world can, at times, be a bit overwhelming. Not that you could ever tell – I’m very good at behaving just like any other person.
I see everything
Both literally, and figuratively. When someone gets a haircut, I will always notice. I may not end up telling them the second I see them, but my eyes and mind have registered the change, and I will act on it if need be. The same goes for any new or different item of clothing, lunch order, way of talking, everything.
I am also very good at noticing when people behave differently, when someone has been in a fight, when people are mad at each other, and the other subtle changes in the moods and emotions around me.
What I am not good at is acting on these perceptions – I may feel them well, but I need to tell myself to think about them or factor them into my decision making.
I have serious issues with negativity and conflict
Another side effect of being a highly sensitive person is that arguments, disagreements, and conflicts freak me out. I’d much rather run away and hide than confront someone, or worse still, be confronted.
When people around me are being negative, I also tend to look for an escape. I just can’t stand criticism, when someone picks a fight, and unpleasant feelings in general.
The same goes for on-screen violence or extremely difficult scenes. I’ll even mute or change the channel if someone is going through something embarrassing or horrible on screen. I just can’t watch it.
I appreciate the “finer things”
And by “finer things”, I mostly mean works of fiction, paintings, delicious meals and drinks. I am at my best when snuggling down with a very good book, drinking a cup of hot chocolate, with Miles Davis playing in the background.
I’ve also recently realized I can’t wear uncomfy jeans – even when they look great and fit well, if I feel them on me, I can’t wear them for long, as I start feeling very squirmish and fidgety.
Hopefully, I haven’t made being an HSP sound too unpleasant – because it’s not. While it does come with a set of challenges, there are rewards as well: feeling things more deeply is wonderful when the feelings are positive and uplifting. They more than make up for the bit of negative we’re all bound to go through in life.