Growing up, I wasn’t the nicest girl. In fact, I used to say that ‘nice’ wasn’t a way that I cared to be described. I mean, it still isn’t. ‘Nice’ is just so lukewarm. Was ‘nice’ the only impression I left on you? Nice girls don’t get the corner office and I would hope that I make you feel something other than ‘nice’. That word is the most basic of compliments, if it is, even, a compliment.
When ‘casual’ interactions like a look that your mum gives you, or a beautiful sunset, leave tears in your eyes, you begin to realise that maybe you feel things more deeply than others. I never spoke about this to anybody but I knew that I was sensitive. At that time in my life, there was no convincing me that sensitivity didn’t mean weakness. I thought that they were one and the same.
However, I knew that I wasn’t weak so to reconcile these feelings, I toughened up my exterior and would let everyone I came in contact with know that I wasn’t the one to be fucked with. I was confrontational and I never backed down during an argument. I knew that people, especially boys, were intimidated by me and my 5 ft 1 self took so much pleasure in this. I thought that the more intimated people were, the less likely they would be to attempt to take advantage of me. And if they never even tried to mess with me, my feelings would never get hurt. Simple. Or so I thought.
It wasn’t until I left secondary school and moved to a small town alone for six months and then went in to the corportate world straight after that I begun to learn myself and learn what I valued most in life.
Being away from people I knew and my usual environment made me aware of how much I valued peace and quiet- I craved peace both with myself and the outside world and would do anything to protect that. I started to realise how much I loved solitude and in the few moments where I was around people I knew, all I wanted was to give and receive love.
Slowly, the walls that I had built began to come down. I started with opening up to more of my friends than the very few who knew me for who I actually was. And then there was this blog. Through this blog, I found a voice that craved honesty and truth.
I guess finding myself and the process of coming to terms and falling in love with me, allowed me to embrace everything about myself and slowly made me comfortable with sharing that with the world. I realised how beautiful my sensitive soul was and became more comfortable with sharing that with the world. I also discovered how powerful vulnerability was and the impact of my vulnerability on the people around me, and the people who read my blog.
Being sensitive comes with being emotional. I feel everything deeply, including other people’s pain. It comes with things that other people would dismiss as ‘not that deep’, being, actually, that deep. It comes with holding people in my life to high standards but also accepting that a lot of people don’t love the way that I do or feel as strongly as I feel, and learning to navigate this.
Nevertheless, I have come to love my sensitive soul. And that love for this soul has made me comfortable with sharing aspects of my life which have changed the lives of so many girls who contact me everyday to let me know. Articles such as how I left my job to how I dealt with the rejection that followed to how much appreciation I have for my mum who stood beside me the entire time. My vulnerability has connected me to all of you and is probably the strongest thing that I’ve ever done in my life. It is everything except for weak. Now I just pray for discernment to know what to share and what to keep to myself.
If you live your truth and live your life openly, nobody can use anything against you. And what I have discovered above all else is that people respect and like you for your work, but they connect with you through your vulnerabilities. And when all is said and done, it is those life-changing connections that really shift the needle and create an impact that lasts forever. Think of all the people that inspire you the most. You respect them for their talent and all they have achieved but the true inspiration comes from knowing their stories- where they come from, their wins, losses and the lessons learned along the way.
Self-awareness and then self-acceptance are what I have found to be most important for me this year. So after accepting myself for who I am, here’s what I have grown to love about sensitive souls.
Empathy: There is so much going on in the world today that is causing so many people to hurt. It takes being empathetic about the plight of others for us to continue to pull through as a community during tough times. There is the downside whereby I don’t even read or watch the news anymore because there is only a limit to how much tragedy I can deal with without being weighed down by the weight of the world. But empathy helps you to be a better friend, child, sibling, partner, colleague, heck, it helps you to be a better person. Being able to look beyond what people say and see intent or to go the extra mile in helping a friend or family pull through a tough situation or find happiness, will always be golden. There is also the flipside where you feel your loved ones’ happiness so deeply and celebrate their wins like they are your wins. Because, aren’t they?
Heightened Creativity: Living life as a sensitive person feels kind of life seeing life in high-definition. I’ve created some of my best work during my most emotional moments. It was an in-suppressible feeling of needing to do more with my platform by helping others that led me to create Top Girl, The Full-Time Blogger and KAI. It is for the same reason that many people create their most successful work at the lowest points in their lives. When you learn how to channel all the feelings you feel positively, you are able to dive wholeheartedly into creating amazing work. Think about music or poetry and how it has the power to heal lives- it is the sensitivity to our own emotions and what is going on in the world around us that allows artists to create work that has the power to let people know that they are not alone in their plight, and to heal and to restore.
Self-Awareness and Self-Reflection: Because we are tuned into ourselves and our role in the world around us, sensitive people constantly self-reflect and are able to identify who they are, their purpose and what impact we want to leave on the world around us. We are honest with ourselves which helps us to be honest with others. We don’t know how to live life with an ‘it’s not that deep’ mentality. Everything is that deep to us and we constantly self-reflect and self-improve. We are conscious of the impact of our words and actions on the people around us and constantly seek to become better people and make people feel better.
Attention to Detail: Sensitive people tend to be more perceptive. We notice and feel the little things and are able to pay great attention to detail and create work and experiences that are of a high quality. We tend to be quite critical of ourselves and just know when the details that might otherwise be overlooked need to be fine-tuned.
We Try Our Very Best: Sensitive people like myself tend to be all in or not at all. If we commit to something, we need to give it our best shot. We work extremely hard and feel a personal connection to the work which we create. We don’t want to deal with the feelings that come from not performing to the standards that we have set for ourselves as over-achievers so we tend to create from our heart and do our very best.
Mindfulness: As Drake says, you’re mindful of it all when your mind full of it all. It just makes life so much easier for others when you’re actually mindful of your actions. One of the things I love the most about my mother, who is also a highly sensitive person, is the way in which she is conscious of the little things that I like and don’t like. Things like being mindful of the fact that a friend likes a particular type of shower gel and making this available when they come to stay with you or walking past Paul and picking up a vanilla macaroon on the way to see your bestfriend who loves macaroons. It really is the little things!
Showing Emotion: This was the hardest thing for me to come to terms with as a sensitive person. The fact that I could cry on the train because of something I read in a book or be hurt and cry walking down the street without feeling conscious. Tears are such a healing release of emotion and my bestfriends know to let me cry. When I speak at events, I make sure to let the audience know that I’m an emotional person and I might cry but I’m absolutely fine. Sometimes, all I need is a good two minute cry and then I can get back to business! You tap into a new level of strength when you’re able to show emotion- and this is where vulnerability also comes into play.
Being Alone without Being Lonely: I am my own favourite person. And it is during moments of complete solitude that I have made some of the most powerful realisations about my life and my purpose. My mum told me that I made her more comfortable with doing things alone and she loves that she can now go to a restaurant alone or go to see a movie alone and I thought that was so special. When you’re complete on your own, you don’t look to other human beings to complete you. Instead, they complement you. As Rupi Kaur writes in Milk and Honey, “I do not want to have you to fill the empty parts of me. I want to be full on my own. I want to be so complete, I could light a whole city. And then I want to have you cause the two of us combined, could set it on fire.”
“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a ‘hot mess’ or having ‘too many issues’ are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.”- Anthon St. Maarten