I have no idea how often this has been said to me. There are a few times that stick out clear in my mind but otherwise I’ve lost count.
One of the most vivid occasions was when I was at work. For a little background information, this was my first ‘proper grown up’ job and it took me a long time to settle in and find my feet within the team, we’re talking at least 6 months before I stopped crying on my way in and probably a year before I felt comfortable enough to speak in a staff meeting. (I haven’t worked there for 6 years now and I still have a gorgeous group of friends who I speak to regularly so it wasn’t that the other staff were difficult!) I won’t say what my job actually entailed as it’s not relevant but I was working with children and therefore having a lot of correspondence with their parents. Anyway, one particular parent just did not like me. It didn’t really matter how hard I worked because they had already made up their mind; I was young and therefore not capable.
There had been a few occasions where this parent had made it very clear that they weren’t happy with me but one evening it escalated until I was just sat in the office being shouted at down the phone and basically ripped to shreds. It was awful and I was really upset. In the end I had to get my line manager, and then their manager, who eventually managed to soothe the situation. On the surface, everything appeared to be resolved; I had received a (sort of) apology and the parent had been warned that what they did would not be tolerated. Fine. Except, this parent told my manager that I was ‘way too sensitive’ and needed to ‘toughen up’, who then made sure that this was fed back to me in a way that showed me that she agreed. And that felt horrible. This whole incident had been turned around so that I was at fault, and not just something that I had done which could be rectified, but my character.
Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight and a few more years of confidence, I should’ve made a formal complaint but the problem was that I actually agreed with them. I’d heard it before. I had a teacher tell me I was ‘too sensitive and silly’ at school and these things stick with you.
So I took this ‘feedback’ on board. For a long time it felt like a battle; I was fighting against my natural responses and exposing myself to things that I didn’t like to ‘toughen myself up’ and learn to ‘not be so dramatic’. However, slowly over time, with the benefit of age and surrounding myself with only the best people, I am now (mostly) able to accept that this is just how I’m wired, and actually it might not be a weakness at all.
I have so much empathy for people that I can feel a physical pain in my chest. I absorb the feelings of those around me and am often left exhausted from it. I seem to feel everything so intensely that I have to be really careful what I expose myself to. But is that always a bad thing? Having a real, almost animalistic desire to help people has actually been a real positive in my life.
I felt like I was building to a big conclusion where I tell you that I had a complete metamorphosis but no, I am OF COURSE, still ‘too’ sensitive.
I cry at EVERYTHING which has only been exasperated since having my children. I can’t watch the news or half of Netflix because when I see something distressing it stays with me for months and months. I’ll wake up in the night thinking about something I saw in a film a year ago. As a result I’m VERY particular about what I’ll watch, much to the dismay of my poor husband and I have a ‘one strike and you’re out’ rule on all social media. (And all of this is absolutely ok.)
SO! Instead of trying to be something I’m not, I googled the benefits of being as emotionally delicate as a tissue and listed them below so if any of this resonates with you, try to see it as a strength. And if not, thank you for taking the time to read this.
Here we go:
- Strong self-awareness.
- Increased empathy.
- Intuitive nurturing skills.
- Appreciative of the small things.
- Knack for forming close relationships.
- Extremely high intelligence.
I might’ve made the last one up…