The day after I moved out of my dorm, I fell into a great big sea of tiredness. Everything was so intense and draining. It took months to get over the intensity of three years of college.
Meanwhile, my college friends were going on with their lives as if nothing were wrong. I was confused. Why was I having all this trouble and they weren’t? We did the same things in college, had the same deadlines, and hung out together. So why was I a burned-out mess, while they were fine?
The answer came a few weeks later when I read a book called The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron. It felt like home.
A Life-Changing Revelation
I learned that I am a highly sensitive person. HSPs process stimulation deeply and feel things intensely, due to our biological wiring. We move a little slower, think a little deeper, and need more downtime than others. Because we pick up on details that others miss — and throughly reflect on those details — we can get stressed, burned out, and overwhelmed quicker than non-HSPs.
Learning about high sensitivity was a life-changing revelation. I finally felt like there was nothing wrong with me. I finally understood why I needed time after college to process all that I had experienced.
But I also thought it was very, very unfair.
Why Couldn’t I Keep Up?
When my college friends moved quickly and effortlessly from one place or activity to the next, I looked at them with envy. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t keep up that pace. I needed lots of quiet downtime to process in between events.
Still, high sensitivity is a character trait, not a disorder, so it should have good parts too, right? That’s what I kept telling myself. I researched the benefits of being highly sensitive. Every article I read said basically the same thing — that being a sensitive person means being creative, having high levels of empathy, and being keenly aware of subtleties. To me, those things didn’t sound as great as not being overwhelmed all the time.
It took me a while to see my sensitivity as a good thing — the gift that it truly is. I came to realize that it does have benefits. But for me, these benefits were different from the ones mentioned in all those articles.
Here are seven “secret” benefits of being a highly sensitive person that I have discovered to be true for myself. Dear HSP, when you’re feeling like your sensitivity is more of a curse than a blessing, I hope you will keep these things in mind.
Secret Benefits of Being a Highly Sensitive Person
1. The simple life is good enough for me.
There are few things that make me happier than a good conversation in a quaint cafe with a friend. I also love walking to the grocery store through a quiet neighborhood in the morning when the world is slowly coming to life. One of my favorite things ever is taking a bath and reading a good book. These little things are easily accessible, making it so much easier for me to have a nice life. No need to spend a lot of money or push myself to extremes.
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2. I see connections that others miss.
People who can remember a lot of facts always intimidated me. I went to an honors college, where lively discussions were a favorite activity of both teachers and the other students. But me? I hated those discussions. Especially because the other students could pull out specific facts and talk circles around me. The result was a lot of insecurity on my part combined with absolutely no chance of me joining in.
What surprised me, though, was that usually my final grade was higher than those who sounded so smart in class. Eventually, I realized that my brain works differently. Instead of remembering facts, I see connections. I understood the material, but I tended to forget the specifics. What this meant was that writing papers, creating presentations, or using the material in any other way came more naturally to me. Many HSPs intuitively make connections. Because of this, I can link and combine different ideas in new and creative ways.
3. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.
I always thought the saying, “It’s the small things in life” sounded very, very cliché. Then I realized that I am capable of being happy all day long just because I saw a parakeet flying in the wild. It wasn’t a hallelujah-my-life-is-complete kind of happiness, but more of a childish excitement — and who wouldn’t want to be able to feel that type of awe so easily?
4. I feel physical sensations intensely.
I love the feeling of a soft blanket against my skin. The touch of a loved one has a similar effect. When I walk out the door and the smell of spring hits me, I’m in a good mood for the rest of the day. Similarly, an HSP friend of mine has a particular sensitivity towards sounds. The right soundtrack with the right film will truly move him to tears.
5. I’m a good judge of character.
This one originates from my life coach who said that whenever she travels, she automatically knows who to trust. I think I have this skill, too. As an HSP, I am very focused on the people around me and notice all the small things. Whenever something feels or looks off, I do not approach.
6. No need for high doses of medicine, caffeine, or alcohol.
Along with having a sensitive mind, I have a sensitive body. I used to take the amount of aspirin prescribed for three year olds and my headache would be gone. One cup of coffee is more than enough to last me a whole day, and I feel tipsy after 1.5 glasses of wine. This means that I don’t have to spend a lot of money and don’t have to put a lot of foreign, and potentially harmful, substances in my body.
7. I live for a good atmosphere.
When a get-together with friends is nice and the conversation flows naturally, it feels as if I can surf on the atmosphere. My mood is linked with the general atmosphere of the room. This can be annoying when the atmosphere is bad, such as when there are crowds and noise, or just not the right vibe. But when everyone is enjoying themselves and we’re in a great place, it makes me feel wonderful.
Perhaps you recognize yourself in some of these benefits. Most importantly, I hope you see your sensitivity as a gift. For me, noticing the “secret” benefits of being highly sensitive helped me accept and love myself.
I am no longer envious of those who can keep going and going, for I know my life is rich in detail and color.
You might like:
- Why HSPs Burn Out So Quickly (and How to Get Relief)
- 27 Things You Do Because You’re a Highly Sensitive Person
- 20 Self-Care Ideas for HSPs
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