“It’s so nice to see you come out of your shell” is my least favorite phrase ever. It’s right up there with “wasssssuuuuuuuuuuppppp” and “good luck with that’” or “sorry not sorry.” Every time someone says it to me, I just want to scream, “I am a highly sensitive introvert, not a turtle!”
Over the past few years, introverts (of all people!) have united to create a community where the quiet, the reserved, the people who prefer a book on the back porch to a night on the town can come together and feel the warm embrace of acceptance — and more importantly, understanding. It’s refreshing and hopefully will save future generations of introverts a lifetime of feeling like outsiders.
Like almost every other introvert on the face of the planet, I spent so much of my life feeling out of place and absolutely certain that if I couldn’t even rally to attend a concert then there was no way I could be successful at anything. Regular gatherings with my friends in my 20s — while fun — left me feeling exhausted and out of sorts.
Not only am I an introvert, but I’m also a highly sensitive person (which is not unusual — 70 percent of highly sensitive people are introverted!). I would constantly beat myself up for being too sensitive and affected by other people’s moods. I thought I was co-dependent, I thought I had depression. I seriously diagnosed myself with clinical depression.
In short, I thought something was wrong with me.
Learning About My Nature Liberated Me
It wasn’t until I hit my 30s that I even heard about “high sensitivity” as well as “introversion.” It explained so much! The clouds parted and I heard angels singing once I learned that I wasn’t off, or depressed, or weird. Or even an outsider. There were people out there just like me — other highly sensitive introverts.
The self-acceptance that came with learning about my nature was so liberating that I felt like a new person. I suddenly felt a glorious freedom to be the person God intended me to be and live my life as I damn well see fit. I stopped caring if other people understood me. I finally understood myself and learned to embrace my temperament wholeheartedly.
But it was a long road full of questions, doubt, pain, and self-reflection. Now I want to help other people find that same inner peace and stop worrying if people think they’re “not a people person” or, heaven forbid, living inside a shell.
What I Wish Others Knew About Me
So, this is for all my people out there curling up on their couches or sitting in their cars pep talking themselves into going inside the damn party already. This is for all the young highly sensitive introverts who are wondering why they’re the “only ones” who just want to stay home this weekend, and for all the people who have struggled to fit in for decades.
Whether you can only relate to one point or all of them — I get you! Here’s what I wish people knew about me as a highly sensitive introvert.
1. Empathy is my superpower.
I feel for you — genuine, sincere, and honest emotions. You don’t even have to tell me how you feel because I’ve probably already picked up on it. As a highly sensitive person, I can sense your mood from a mile away. Don’t try to hide it; you’re not fooling me. If you’re happy, then I want to be happy with you. If you’re hurt, angry, or sad, then I want to make you feel better.
2. I might be the most emotional person you have ever met.
Everything. Every single little thing elicits a strong emotional reaction in me. Being an introvert, I don’t necessarily express it, but I have to wade through how I feel about something before I can look at what I think about something. It’s like living inside a category five hurricane with an eye the circumference of a thumb tack. While I occasionally burst into tears at inconvenient times and can easily get frustrated over simple problems, I also get great joy from simple little things that other people might not notice. The pros of being an emotional hurricane far outweigh the cons.
3. Evolution is my full-time job.
Seriously. I’m always in a state of learning and reflection. I’m not self-absorbed; I just believe in active growth.
4. I’m not ready to get to know you just yet.
If we’ve just met, I will be polite and am probably happy to meet you. But I likely will not engage you until it feels natural for me to do so. I am terrible at making conversation, especially small talk. I just can’t do it, and yes, dating is my worst nightmare.
5. I’m analyzing our conversation before it’s even over.
I’m going to hit the replay button and examine every aspect of the conversation we just had. How was the rhythm? Were there any awkward pauses? What was said before the pause? What was the eye contact situation? How was the body language? I’m not obsessing, I just want to learn to speak your personal “language” so I can communicate with you better.
6. Oh, and yeah, I just had a much better conversation with you… in my head.
If I see something that makes me think of you, then I’m going to tell you all about it — in my head. I’m going to be so articulate and expressive, and it will be the most awesome conversation ever. But then when I actually see you in person and try to tell you about it, it will probably sound something like, “Hey, so I um, I saw a squirrel earlier that kind of looked like Batman. Like if Batman had a brown suit instead of a black suit… so okay, I’ll talk to you later.”
7. Even though I’m an introvert, I can sometimes be the life of the party.
I love to make people laugh. Outside of lacing up my sneakers and running on the nearest trail, making people laugh is my favorite thing to do. There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for a laugh, and if I’m out socializing, then you can bet your ass I’m working it. But, God, it takes a lot of energy. It takes a monumental amount of energy to go out and do one of the things that I love the most: connect with people and bring them joy. So, if I’ve mustered up the energy to hang out, it will not go to waste. You can be damn sure we’re going to have a blast. Then you probably won’t see or hear from me for a week.
8. I love you with all of my heart.
Every single piece of it is yours. I want to understand you, I want to anticipate your needs, and I don’t want you to just know how special you are to me but rather feel how special you are to me. Making you happy makes me happy. But if you break my heart, you are out of my life. Like maximum security prison in the frozen wastelands of Siberia done. In my nearly 40 years on this planet, I have never made an exception. Not once.
9. Yes, I need to be alone.
Time to myself is as essential as water and air. It is a non-negotiable fact of my existence. If you know what I mean, then you know. If you don’t quite understand it, then I am not sure how to explain it. I am not lonely, I am not shy, I am not in a shell, I am not mad at you or hiding from the big bad scary world. When I spend time alone, it has absolutely nothing to do with you or anyone else. I’m at peace and loving it.
You might like:
- 21 Signs That You’re a Highly Sensitive Person
- Why Do Highly Sensitive People Absorb Other People’s Emotions?
- 14 Things Highly Sensitive People Absolutely Need to Be Happy
- Why Highly Sensitive People Get Mentally and Emotionally ‘Flooded’
- What Happens When a Highly Sensitive Person Grows Up with Emotional Neglect?
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