“Am I too much for the world, or is the world too much for me?”
Being intense and sensitive— seeing the world through different eyes and feeling the world on a distinctive wavelength— does not lay an easy path.
You are most likely a deep thinker, an intuitive feeler, and an extraordinary observer. You are prone to existential depression and anxiety, but you also know beauty and rapture. When art or music moves you, you are flooded with waves of joy and ecstasy. As a natural empathiser, you have a gift; yet you are also overwhelmed by the constant waves of social nuances and others’ psychic energies.
You might have spent your whole life trying to fit in with the cultural “shoulds” and “musts In school, you wanted to be in the clique, but you were unable to make small talks or have shallow relationships.
At work, you want the authorities to recognise you, but your soul does not compromise on depth, authenticity and connections.
You feel hurt for being the black sheep in the family, but your success is not recognised in a conventional way.
In these following paragraphs, I want to remind you how precious your unique life path is. Rather than pretending to be who you are not, you only do yourself and the world justice by celebrating your sensitivity and intensity.
Emotional sensitivity is a brain difference—an innate trait that makes one different from the normative way of functioning.
While the mass media and medical professionals are eager to use labels to diagnose people with a way of being that is different from the norm, findings in neuroscience are going in the opposite direction. More and more, the scientific community acknowledges “neurodiversity”—the biological reality that we are all wired differently. Rather than being an inconvenience to be eliminated, neurodiversity is an evolutionary advantage, something that is essential if we were to flourish as a species.
Like many brain differences, it is misunderstood. As people naturally reject what they do not understand, the emotionally sensitive ones are being pushed to the margin. Those who feel more, and seem to have a mind that operates outside of society’s norm are often outcasted. In the Victorian era, women who appeared emotional were given the humiliating label of “hysteria.” Even today, emotional people tend to be looked down upon, and sometimes criticised and shunned.
The stigma attached to sensitivity is made worse by trends in the mass media. In 2014, author Bret Easton Ellis branded Millennials as narcissistic, over-sensitive and sheltered; from there, the disparaging term “generation snowflake” went viral. The right-wing media ran with the insult. Last year, a Daily Mail article described young people as “a fragile, thin-skinned younger generation.” This notion is not only unfounded but also unjust and damaging.
The sensitive male is also misjudged and marginalised. Under the ”boys don’t cry!” macho culture, those who feel more are called “weak” or “sissies,” with little acknowledgement of their unique strengths. Many sensitive boys and men live lives of quiet suffering and have opted to numb their emotional pain of not fitting the male ideal with alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, or other addictions.
Being sensitive and intense is not an illness—in fact, it often points to intelligence, talents or creativity. However, after years of being misdiagnosed by health professionals, criticised by schools or workplace authority, and misunderstood by even those who are close to them, many sensitive people start to believe there is something wrong with them. Ironically, low self-esteem and loneliness make them more susceptible to having an actual mental disorder.